Last Sunday, the Network in charge of Patrimony of the Community of Communes Sor & Agout organized an interesting visit of the small village of Escoussens, few kilometres from here on the foothill of the Montagne Noire.
The place has been occupied since millenaries and the local toponymy contains several Celtic terms: Mountain and forest of Cayroulet (Small Dolmen), le Breil (small group of trees), Vernazobre (creek of alder forest). Later, Romans and Gallo romans exploited the sites of a marble and iron quarries deep in the nearby forest.
Source: Mission d’inventaire du patrimoine bâti - CAUE du Tarn
The name of Escoussens appears officially in 1185 when Roger II Trancavel, Viscount of Carcassonne, allowed a castle to be built, probably replacing a former castrum. According to oral tradition, the village was destroyed and the castle burnt, like several other around, during the Albigensian crusade (Cathars).
After legal and financial problems between the local lords and the bankers of the city of Castres, the village, its rich forest and factories (watermills, sawmills, glass and charcoal) ended in the hands of the Carthusian Order, already settled in Castres. They kept this entire heritage from the 14th century to the French Revolution (end 18th).
Even if it has been modified the church mainly from 16th century, in gothique flamboyant style is a testimony of the history of the place. The altar is in red marble from the Caunes quarry (same has been used for the Trianon colonnade in the Versailles Castle). Several old and intriguing corbels can be found in the lateral chapels.
This visit was the occasion to enjoy many nice small remains from the past like doors made of stone or wood dated end 15th, crosses and fountains dated around 1860.