Category Archives: News 2014

Bm359: a cliff-hanger

The bordercros bm359 – engraved in 1863 – has never been refound on the very steep hillside between bm358 and 360. Jean Sermet was convinced that a 4x10m rockwall must have been the original spot and in 1957 he engraved a cross there. In 2009 Paco Nudels discovered a cross on a similar looking rockwall and I visited that cross twice.


But: is this the same cross as Jean Sermet engraved? And was this rock the very spot of the original bm359?

I will try the answer these questions in the next update of my website. But I can already reveil some of my conclusions on this map.


For my arguments, you will have to wait. A cliffhanger as it were and as a term corresponding to this very steep hillside. (Update 4/1/2015: update is ready -> see this page)

The archives question

A recurring question: in which archives can we find bordermarker-related information? For example about the mysterious bm408-submarkers, the dubious bm359 or the reportedly destroyed bm271bis. We’d like so much to discover old pictures, cadastral maps, proceedings of border-committees etcetera to solve remaining questions.

I’m not living in France or Spain, so  exploring archives there is not an option. The wikipedia article on the French archives  is not encouraging about the online search possibilties. But through the years I got some information where to find what. It might help you. And you might help me with additional info on this subject.

There are three kinds of sources:
– personal archives: I know of one example: the archives of Jean Sermet stored in the Musee des Pyrénées in Lourdes but not yet indexed. The Darrieu’s have visited the museum and copied a lot of documents.
– archives with a (inter)national scope: all the documents regarding the bi-national committees on the Pyrenean border through the years (since 1973 the “Commission Mixte d’Abornement”). Well: that’s a big question. One of the French ‘délégues’ – Jean-Paul Laborie –  reported that he couldn’t find any documentation regarding the esfr-border in the Toulouse-archives. And apparently he has – as a member – no access to the archives of the “Commission Mixte d’Abornement”,  if they exist at all as a separate entity. He suggests that those files are in national archives (Paris?).
– archives with a regional scope, for example the proceedings of annual communal bordermarker checks. We have a fine example provided by Jacques Koleck: about bm261 in the minutes of the “Commissions de vérification des bornes internationales”, found in the Archives Départementales of Pau.

Of course, they will have their Spanish counterparts. We have a particular example: the source of a picture of the lost bm364: the “Archives de La Guardia Civil”

Visiting bm196

This year – on my usual september-trip to the Pyrenean bordermarkers – I had no choice than to visit the recently reinstalled bm196. Last year, Jan-Willem and I excavated this bm which had been underground for 40 years. The authorities then took their responsibility and raised it from its grave a few weeks ago.

The marker makes a massive impression and the typography of the number is like some markers upon the ridge to the west. It must have been a replacement of a lost original in the ‘grand’ restauration of bordermarkers in the fifties of the 20th century.

New update of “The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees”

pic-of-grpdesbf-homepageI’m proud to announce an update with a new series of stages of my coast-to-coast GRPdesBF-trail: the 18 stages from bm262 to 410 have been worked out in full detail.

And there are more additions: check the update-log.

Bm196 raised from the grave!

Yesterday – on 12 august 2014 – the 40 year buried bm196 has been raised from it’s grave. Pictures were sent to me by Captain José Luis Sánchez Tello of the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional for which I’m very grateful. Read more about bm196 on this page.


The operation took about 3 hours to complete when we examine the picture’s data.

As you can see, the bm has been lifted half-way to appear again for every passer-by and to honour it’s significance as a cultural-historical monument as all bordermarkers are.

We thank the two delimitation delegations of Navarre and the Pyrénées Atlantiques for doing this. They have been a successful couple on more bm-restauration tasks. In this case I know that they have been reminded by bm-expert Javier Martínez Ruiz of the sad situation of bm196.

And perhaps I may suggest three other nice jobs on their common borderline: the bm236, bm255 and bm271bis



The mysterious 408-submarkers

Around 1964 a set of 4 submarkers (408 I to IV) were placed high above the river Garonne near the village of Fos. From 1959 onwards, Spanish foresters had tresspassed between bm408 and 409 the Ruisseau du Terme, claiming that another stream – to the north – was meant as the borderline in the 1862-treaty.

From the beginning, the border-commissioners Jean Sermet and his Spanish colleague Alija were inclined to that theory which led ultimately to the placement of the four submarkers.


The available documents (kindly provided by the Darrieu’s) tell a fascinating story. My conclusion: Sermet & Alija were wrong! Judge for yourself on this (elaborate) special page



Steel protection

On 29 may 2014 we (Jan-Willem Doomen and I) were in Bourg-Madame to check – among other goals – to see how bm481fr was doing: both the new – tarmac-covered – plaque and the old borderstone.

Well: the old one has been re-erected again besides the newly constructed customs-office at Rue des Narcisses. But we were surprised that its bronze replacement at the original spot (see this webpage) has got a special protection:


A steel manhole’s cover! Jan-Willem uses a rope to lift the cover which was quite easy.


Bordermarkers should be visible – we think – but we like the way this bm is protected now and appreciate the willingness to take such measures.

Meeting Murgoi

On 25 may 2014 we (Jan-Willem Doomen and I) met finally Jesús Murueta Goikoetxea, aka ‘Murgoi’. Our meeting place was appropiate: in the Basque country on a borderbridge between Hendaye and Irún.

Murgoi undertook countless trips in the years 2000-2003 to find and photograph all the esfr-bordermarkers of the Basque country (no. 1-272). He compiled “the Murgoi files” giving each bordermarker its own page with descriptions, directions and pictures. See this post for more information and a link to download the Murgoi-files.


Together we spent a very pleasant afternoon, visiting Col de Lizarrieta  and redoing the bordermarkers bm044-045 with its many submarkers.


New update of “The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees”

pic-of-grpdesbf-homepageI’m proud to announce a new update with a new series of daytrips and  GRPdesBF-stages.

And there are more additions: check the update-log.