Not far from the main Guingamp-Callac trunk road lies the commune of Gurunhuel – the highest commune in the Cotes d’Armor. Its church spire looks out over a vast expanse of countryside and rolling fields. The village itself is situated on a hill 300 metres high. It is located to the west of the Coat an Hay forest, between Pont Melvez to the south and Treglamus to the north. Still a Breton –speaking village, this tiny commune is at the same time forward-looking, and whilst planning significant economic and housing investments, is doing so without endangering its attractive setting.
Inhabitants : the “Gurunhuellois”
A few Gurunhuel statistics :
Land surface area : 1957 hectares
Population in 1999 : 387
Length of road network : 25 kms
There are a variety of meanings for Gurunhuel’s name :
Gurun = crown: Huel = elevated \ the elevated crown
Gurun = thunder : Huel = from above \ thunder from above
In ancient Breton :
Cun = summit : Run = hill \ the top of the hill
However, in the extremely old texts a third meaning emerges: Gurunhuel was called Guern Huel :
Guern = marsh : Huel = on high \ the marsh on high
This theory makes sense when you see how damp the land is on high ground.
The first pieces of evidence of Gurunhuel’s history date back to the 9th century. Gurunhuel appears during the 10th century as a early parish dependant on Bourbriac. In 1790 following the Revolution, the commune elected its first council, and Gurunhuel was subsequently the administrative centre of the canton of Belle-isle-en-Terre until 1803.
In 1796 Gurunhuel had 1941 inhabitants living in 202 households. There were 30 elderly people, 6 house-bound, 20 beggars and 19 children under the age of 14.
Gurunhuel has experienced a progressive population decline – in 1999 the village possessed 387 inhabitants in 231 dwellings (of these 163 were permanently occupied, 23 were holiday homes and 45 were empty).
AGRICULTURE AND SKILLED TRADES
Gurunhuel is a predominantly agricultural commune (cattle breeding, dairy herds, pigs, 3 chicken farms), as well as being home to several tradesmen (2 stone-mason businesses, 1 painter \ decorator, 1 electrician \ plumber).
This emphasis on agriculture is nothing new : in 1795, a certain Camus began a potato-growing business, an activity quickly adopted by his neighbours. This was a sign of things to come as the potato didn’t start to appear on the Breton dinner table until 1880.