Here is an interesting landmark. We pass it on every trip to Esperaza, for the Sunday market. The Tour Visigoth of Fa. It is a short detour off the main Cahalbre-Esperaza road, through the sleepy village of Fa and up the hill behind. A stop for lunch at the fabulous Cafe de Fa would only enhance the outing (the actual walk around the tower is gonna take 10 minutes max).
It is called the Visigoth tower. Perhaps it gets its name due to it sharing its distinctly plain architecture with other Visigoth buildings left behind when their kingdom disappeared in the early medieval period. Around the tower are crumbling foundations, evidence of more than just a tour. There is a well preserved balistraria (arrow slit window) – part of the defense. On the east side there is what could be the well. The tower itself has a new entrance (a hole knocked through at ground level). The original entrance was higher up, reached by a wooden staircase. If attacked they could burn the stairs and hold out till a relief force came.
The Tour is remarkably similar to the architecture of the crumbling Chateaux at Renne-le-Chateaux, also believed to be Visigoth. Renne-le-Chateaux was a regional stronghold of the Visigoth. Another tower, Chateaux Blanchfort is claimed to also be Visigoth, though its tour would have been much narrower. The Visigoth are a Germanic tribe. Their activities here date back to 418 AD when the weakened Roman Empire granted them lands in Gallia Aquitania as part of a pacification strategy. A string of military fortifications suggests that they were frequently at war. Or else they had something to hide. Some suggest that after the sacking of Rome, they carried out with them a great treasure. The Ark of the Covenant. The Grail. The Book of Love. The Visigoth (King Alaric – of whom a mountain near here is named after) eventually lost out to the Franks. Clovis I, the founder of the Merovingian dynasty. The Merovingian line famously never gut their fire red hair. Some popular authors claim that the Merovingian line is of sacred blood. Traced back to Jesus.
Moving on from the colourful fancies of history, the village of Fa is itself very old. Roman or earlier. The word Fa means either ‘Fairy World’ or ‘Watch’. Most likely Watch. The tower stands on the site of an old Roman shrine. But who knows. Perhaps if you ascend the tower hill on an auspicious night under a full moon you may stepo through the cloud that separates us from Fairyland. I heard that there are Roman villa remains on the western side of the village but I have not found them yet.