Ben is shortly to post this on his website but he said I could also post it on here to answer many of the questions asked about the DRAC meetings. And to put the record straight, hopefully once and for all, by someone who was actually at these meetings - Ben Hammott:
There have been 3 meetings with the DRAC.
Ben Hammott, Jean-Pierre Giraud and Bruce Burgess
Meeting 1 - Location: DRAC offices in Montpellier:
Those in attendance were Jean-Pierre Giraud, Bruce Burgess and Ben Hammott.
To report the Tomb an appointment was arranged with Jean-Pierre Giraud, head of the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles for the Languedoc. The meeting took place at the DRAC offices in Montpellier. Bruce Burgess and I first explained the history of my discovery - how and when I had found it, etc. All three Tomb films were then shown. Although at first giraud seemed sceptical because of the mention of Rennes-le-Chateau, by the time the third film had ended, Jean-Pierre’s scepticism had diminished and he now thought that we had indeed found something - he just wasn’t sure what. He then gave us his opinion on what he had just witnessed, saying it was a very strange and unusual burial but the objects were definitely real objects - whatever they were made of or how long they had been there. He said the body was also real and looked very old and mummified, which tallied with the results from our consultations with other experts. Just like us, Jean Pierre was keen to excavate the Tomb to find out exactly what was inside. After I had explained there was no obvious sign of an entrance, Jean Pierre said he would arrange for a couple of his colleagues, who were professional spelunkers, to come and view the tomb site to see if they could find a way inside.
Meeting 2 - Location: Tomb Site:
Those in attendance were Phillipe Galant, another DRAC representative, Bruce Burgess, and Ben Hammott
The two DRAC representatives were taken to our hotel and shown all of the Tomb footage so they could get an idea of its layout and the rock formation. They were intrigued and duly impressed and thought it a very exiting find. We then discussed the Tomb and the surrounding area and both parties signed a confidentiality agreement to safeguard the site, so that no details giving away the location of the Tomb were made public until it was safe to do so. They were then taken to the Tomb site.
It felt very strange taking strangers to the site but I knew that if I wanted the Tomb excavated we had to find a way in and these two men may be just the ones to find it. I took them inside the cave being careful not to disturb the bushes around the entrance too much, and showed them where the shaft was that I had filmed through and what I thought was the direction of the original entrance.
After examining the interior we all returned outside where they examined the surrounding rock formation . They noticed that there were signs of dynamite having been used, probably in the past fifty years or so. They did give a reason for this but to safeguard the site I will not reveal it here. When I asked if the explosions could have caused the collapse of the original entrance into the tomb, they said it was a possibility. Like me they could find no sign of the original entrance. This could explain why the Tomb has not been discovered before now and why it has not been looted - there is no longer any access. This does not make the job of excavating the Tomb an easy one. We already know by the rock fall in the Tomb that the cavern roof is possibly unstable, preventing access from the top.
I drew them a plan of the Tomb, the shaft and blocked entrance position. We spent the next hour taking measurements, working out the size of the Tomb, the size and depth of the shaft, height of the Tomb, etc. A GPS reading of the Tomb’s location was also taken. After consulting a detailed map they told us who owned the land. When all was done they said they would send their report to Giraud and he would decide what the next step to take might be and we would be contacted with the outcome.
Meeting 3 - Location: DRAC offices in Montpellier:
Those in attendance were Jean-Pierre Giraud, Phillipe Galant, Bruce Burgess and Ben Hammott.
During this meeting Giraud consulted the file that contained the report prepared by Phillipe on his visit to the Tomb site. We all agreed that the next step was to find out the best way to gain entry to the tomb without damaging further any of the artefacts inside. To do this we thought the best thing was to return to the site outside of the tourist season when there wouldn't be so many people about, and put the remote camera down the shaft to have a look at the roof structure of the cave to try and see how stable it is. Also we would try and see if we could remove some of the rocks from the blocked up entrance to see if there was a clear tunnel on the other side. It would be hard to do but it was worth trying. There was also the possibility we may be able to hook out an object for dating purposes. I had already tried this with a couple of other objects without success. Unfortunately there were not many hookable objects in the right position in relation to the shaft to be easily snagged but if we could open one of the chests, again something I had already tried without success, there may be something inside we could grab safely without damaging it.
As Philippe had other projects booked up it would be a few months before we would be able to do this.
It was shortly after this meeting that my son was diagnosed with cancer and at the time the meeting was to take place my son was in hospital undergoing a major operation. I then decided I needed to be with my son and my family during this time and I did not wish to be away for long periods until my son was better so any further work on the Tomb and excavation was put on hold.
A provisional date of 17th September 2008 was discussed to resume our joint exploration of the tomb prior to setting an excavation date. This date was originally chosen as my son's treatment should have ended by this time but there were complications and he is still undergoing treatment. So regrettably the meeting was postponed further. As it turned out I wouldn't have been able to visit the site during my recent visit to Rennes-le-Chateau when the Bloodline film was screened as too many people knew I was there.
Answering some of the false reports:
There IS a file with the DRAC that contains records of our meetings and the report made by Phillippe on his visit to the Tomb site - I know because I saw it at our last meeting, it was on the table in front of me and was referred to by Jean-Pierre Giraud.
I have no idea why this was deemed important enough to lie about but contrary to reports, Jean-Pierre Giraud did have a secretary at the time of our meetings. The Bloodline team and I have had contacts with her when arranging and attending some of the above meetings and follow-ups. She may not be Giraud's personal secretary but she was the one that worked for him, handling his phonecalls, etc. while Giraud was out of the office.
The quote Giraud gave was not given after the first meeting but many weeks after the third meeting and after the excavation was put on hold. Not that it matters when the quote was given, what is important is that the DRAC took the Tomb seriously enough to warrant a quote for Bruce to use in a press release, this is not the action of a man who thinks the Tomb does not exist or is not important enough to warrant further exploration.
Quote from Jean-Pierre Giraud:
"This is certainly a very intriguing discovery, but it's just too early to tell how important it is. We need to do a full survey of the site to determine the age of the corpse and the other items in the tomb. The archeology department of the DRAC-LR will be carrying out an examination of the site as soon as access has been made possible."
These meetings took place - I know - I was there and we have the correspondence with the DRAC, film and photographs.
There is still a confidentiality agreement in place between both parties so don't expect to see an area of land taped off with brightly coloured tape with a notice 'SECRET TOMB KEEP OUT' anywhere around Rennes-le-Chateau.