THE isolated French mountaintop village of Rennes le Chateau is a tourist destination these days, fuelled by the mysterious activities in the nineteenth century of the local parish priest, Berenger Sauniere, whose sudden enormous wealth led many to believe he had found some vast buried treasure there.

One of those who have tried to solve this historical riddle is researcher and dowser, Steve Dawson, who shared his findings at a talk given at the South Herefordshire Dowsers' July meeting at Aston Ingham Village Hall.

Sauniere was certainly a rogue with a somewhat loose interpretation of official Catholic doctrine, even displaying his true religious affinities by decorating his church with Cathar and Martinist images.

But the treasure? Steve has collected evidence to suggest that Sauniere actually became rich not from digging up treasure but from illegally digging up bones from the church graveyard and selling them across Europe as valuable holy relics - before being reduced to poverty once again after the bottom fell out of his market with the coming of the First World War.

The next SHD meeting is a dowsing training evening for all abilities at 6.30pm on August 2. Visitors welcome.