If you are intrigued by legends and mysterious sites, this trail is for you. In Sailly-en-Ostrevent in the east of the Pays d’Artois and east of Arras, the Sept Bonnettes burial mound is one of the most surprising places in the Hauts-de-France region. It is a megalithic site whose mysteries have not yet been entirely uncovered. The trail takes you into the heart of the Sensée Valley.
A magical landscape
This almost supernatural hill can be made out from afar, as if straight out of a Tolkien film.
You have to follow a farm track, on foot, to reach the Sept Bonnettes mound, a 75 metre-high barrow topped by 70 cm-tall standing stones forming a crown. The top of this little mound, approximately 35 metres in diameter, about 40 long and 30 wide, offers a magnificent view over the surrounding landscape. You feel alone in the world amidst the great Pays d’Artois plain which is crossed by two rivers, the Sensée and the Trinquise.
Stories and eras intersect at the burial mound. Excavations carried out in tne nineteenth century failed to date or establish the exact function of this place: Neolithic, Bronze Age or Gallic, the Sept Bonnettes site has never yielded its secrets.
The legend of the Bonnettes
Here you are, standing in the middle of the stones which seem to form a round. This is a cromlech, a rare example of megaliths forming a circle.
Although only five stones remain standing today, a group of seven once stood upright here. One has fallen down the hill. A central stone is thought to have been removed, but mystery still surrounds its disappearance. According to legend, these were in fact six young girls and a musician (the lost central stone) who were turned into statues by Heaven. A divine punishment for going off dancing instead of attending Vespers. Although it’s a good story, the historical reality is more pragmatic.
Les Sept Bonnettes in practice :
- Accès : à partir de la D39 en venant d’Etaing, tourner à gauche à l’entrée de Sailly-en-Ostrevent (D43, en direction d’Hamblain-les-Prés) puis tout de suite à gauche, prendre un chemin rural, puis emprunter à pied le 2e chemin à droite, le tumulus est à environ 100 mètres à droite.
- Circuit de randonnée “Les Bonnettes”, 21 km, 6h40, au départ de la place de l’église à Sailly-en-Ostrevent.