Roc-aux-Sorciers


Useful Information

Location: Angles-sur-L'Anglin, near Poitiers, département Vienne. About 1.5km from the village, on the right side of the Anglin river.
Open: JAN closed.
FEB to MAR Sun 10-12:30, 13:30-17:30, last entry 16:30.
APR to JUN Thu-Sun 10-12:30, 13:30-18:30, last entry 17:30.
JUL to AUG daily 10-12:30, 13:30-19:30, last entry 18:30.
SEP to OCT Thu-Sun 10-12:30, 13:30-18:30, last entry 17:30.
NOV to DEC Sun 10-12:30, 13:30-17:30, last entry 16:30.
On closed days open for groups after appointment.
[2008]
Fee: self guided: Adults EUR 6.50, Children (7-12) EUR 3.50, Children (0-6) free, Students EUR 5.50, Unemployed EUR 5.50, Disabled free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 4.50, Children (7-12) EUR 3.
guided: Adults EUR 8.50.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6.50.
[2008]
Classification:  Cave Replica
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided and guided. D=90min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Lucien Rousseau (1933): Le Magdalénien dans la Vienne. Découverte et fouille d'un gisement du Magdalénien à Angles-sur-l'Anglin (Vienne), Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française, n° 30, pp. 239-256, ill.
Address: Centre d'interprétation de la frise magdalénienne du Roc-aux-Sorciers, 2 route des Certeaux, 86260 Angles-sur-l'Anglin, Tel: +33-549-833727, Tel: +33-810-699771.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:54:45 $

History

 
1927first explored by Lucien Rousseau.
1933Lucien Rousseau publishes results.
1947first campaign by Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and Dorothy Garrod.
1950cave discovered.
1957end of intensive examination.
1964last campaign by Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and Dorothy Garrod.
21-MAR-2008museum opened to the public.

Description

The Roc-aux-Sorciers (Sorcerers' Rock) was named after suggested pagan rites, which legend says were held here. However, pagan rites refer to Celtic times, about 3000 to 2000 years ago, before the arrival of the Romans. The name was coined long before the prehistoric remains were discovered.

There are two different caves at the cliff face. The lower level cave is an overhanging cliff face called Abri Bourdoi. This is a typical rock-shelter site without a cave behind. On a higher level lies Cave Taillebourg, which is much deeper.

The Cave Taillebourg was first explored by Lucien Rousseau in 1927. But he did not find Bronze Age (Celtic) remains, he dated his findings as mid-Magdalenian, which means around 15,000 years old. He discovered an engraved stone which was examined by Henri Breuil, who interpreted it as a mammoth. Rousseau published his results in 1933 and then the site was almost forgotten.

The French archaeologist Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and her British assistant Dorothy Garrod had read about this place in Rousseau's paper and started their excavations in 1947. They discovered various carved blocks with sculpted and incised figures, showing animals and sometimes humans. Those were fragments damaged by a roof collapse, the cavern walls with the reliefs were dislodged. Only one single wall relief, the carved and painted figure of a bison had remained in place.

The most important find was the 20m long frieze of bisons, horses, felines, goats and erotic female figures, which was discovered in 1950. It is located in the lower cave, Abri Bourdoi.

The caves are facing south, during this cold stage, with Siberian climate influenced by massive glaciers in the south and the north, such a sunny spot made a nice hunting station. The micro climate in the entrance of the cave, the protection against the cold winds, made it ideal to live in, at least for a certain period of time. While the Lascaux caves and other similar sites are interpreted as sanctuaries, this was a dwelling place. But the relief carvings are absolutely exceptional, they are unique in Europe.

To protect the cave from destruction it was never opened to the public. Temperature changes and carbon dixode and steam from the breath of the visitors, as well as dust and spores visitors bring with them in their clothes destroy the fragile artworks. But the dislodged sculptures and paintings from the collapsed upper cave were removed and restaurated. 50 of those sculprtures are now on display at the Musée des antiquités nationales (National Archaeology Museum) at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris.

To make the sculpted frieze available to public inspection, a replica was created using the most recent technology. The cave was scanned with a laser based 3d technique, the survey used to create an original size 3d copy. This replica is a sophisticated copy, including both the form and the surface of the original cave wall. The new museum which cost 2.7 million Euro is intended to allow the visitors to explore the cave themselves. Obviously nobody knows the whereabouts of the sculptures, so the interpretations of the visitors are as good as that of anyone else. But a half-hour son-et-lumière (light show) display, which explains how the carvings may have been created and how they were discovered, will be projected on the cave replica.


See also


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