The Mayor That Was Me

The Mayor That Was Me

USSON CASTLE - Book and land

The Unknown Cathar Castle!


How would you feel if you bought a castle and found the treasure of the Cathars had passed this way?

That is the riveting sub-title on the cover of this book!  And it was the experience of David Warr, the English Distributor for Val Wineyard Publishing.

  Val has known David for more years than either of them care to count.  Way back in 1990, when a mutual friend suggested she contacted David about visiting the castle he had bought in the Pyrenees, and she had planned a holiday touring Languedoc, she visited this remote place with its romantic ruined castle, perched on a crag. 

 Val and her partner took the Andorra road from Quillan, heading deep into the mountains towards the old border between France and Spain in medieval times.  Usson castle is sign-posted now, but it wasn't in 1990!  "I have always remembered that magic day," Val says.

FromNorth .jpeg   CarWindow.jpeg 
  At the time the castle had not been restored, and country life around the castle was relatively unchanged since Medieval times.

  Usson castle has only recently been known as a Cathar castle.  The Cathar history is nearly forgotten. Before Montségur was taken and the Cathars were burnt alive, three daring Perfects smuggled out the Cathar Treasure and it passed through Usson on its way to Italy.  The villagers told David the treasure included the "Gospel of St. John the Beloved" in Occitan - and that the archeologists were looking for it!

  Now Usson castle houses a museum called Maison de Patrimoine de Donezan, Donezan being the old name for the area ruled from Usson.  You can see there what the archeologists found.

   In the summer of 2014, when David came to stay to research possible moorings for his boat on the French Mediterranean coast (as described in Val's Publisher’s Blog) and declared he was thinking of selling his land around Usson.  Intrigued, Val decided to research some Cathar history and became so immersed her friends said she was living in another world!  Hence this book.

  The book is a story of two English people who loved the south of France, "the Englishman up the hill" beside the castle, David, and Val who was in the throes of moving to France.  It's also the history of the castle, and especially the people who lived in it, which included the fair Esclarmonde, she who was apparently burnt alive at Montségur but changed into a dove, and flew to Heaven.  That's why the Dove became a precious symbol for the Cathars.

  SneakingoutTreasure.jpg  otto_cav.jpg
 Val explored many other legends too, about the Cathar treasure from Montségur, intimately connected with Usson, and the Neo-Cathars, who included Otto Rahn.

  Everyone who loves the Cathars, or believes they are reincarnated from them, will enjoy this book, which includes the breathtaking story of how Val discovered little known history through all the connections between her own life and Cathar life in Occitania in the thirteenth century.

  Especially captivating is the life of Esclarmonde, the "white lady" of Montségur, who lived at Usson.  The name Esclarmonde means "the light of the world," and that light which will never die illuminates this book.

  Comments and reviews

 I am intrigued to learn so many of the Castle legends, more than I ever imagined.  David Warr

I am run off my feet at present with writing several other projects all clamoring for attention at the same time but couldn't help dipping into your book over my morning coffee. Two hours later I was finally able to put it down, having read it from cover to cover! Compelling stuff.  The book is a delightful mix of auto-biography, mythology and a valuable historic account of a little known fascinating location that clearly played a vital role in the so-called 'Albigensian crusade'. Thank you for putting this history between two covers. It is hugely appreciated and put a huge smile on my face.  Richard Stanley Founder of Terra Umbra Group on Facebook, currently researching and writing a life of Esclarmonde.

  Available through our Paypal system; you don't need to have a Paypal account yourself, you can use a credit card in the usual way.  Click on the little arrow to find your option, and then click "Buy now."

Prices including postage

 And now?

The book began when David told me he wanted to sell his land there.  i decided to research the story of Usson, to tell possible buyers all about it, and the research grew into the book above.

  This ruined Usson castle in Ariège played a major role in Cathar times, for it supported the Cathars taking refuge at Montségur with supplies and soldiers during the siege of 1242 to 1244.  It was also a safe house - the Perfect Guilabert de Castres stayed sometimes at Usson.


   I first knew about Usson in 1990 for my friend and now business partner, David Warr, had purchased some land around the castle in 1980, and I visited while on a touring holiday, when the above picture was taken.  The castle and the land around it was so wild and beautiful!

FromNorth .jpeg  Tower1.jpeg 
 This was before I knew my previous life was associated with the Cathars at Montségur.  Click here to read more.

  Now David is retired and his interest in sailing has led him to Mediterranean shores, so he wants to sell his land around Usson.  He has around 11 hectares in various fields and scrubland.  This is agricultural land but one field is designated as "garden" so you would be able to stay overnight or for holidays, getting fit by climbing down to the water supply by the road up to the castle!


The plots numbered less than 2000 are David's including the Pré du Baillé - Bailiff's field - which is classified as a garden and is beside the road.  Some of his land is hilly or scrubland.  So the "domain" would be suitable for anyone who wanted their own slice of ancient Occitania for holidays in wild natural countryside, or for people who want the status of landowners so that they could live here - people from the States, for example.

  The nearest village is Rouze, which is "up-and-coming" in the region, with all facilities and friendly people.

  The price?  4000€ negotiable with around 300€ for legal fees.  If you are interested please contact me on or David on

  But be warned!  You'll want it if you go and see it . . . 

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