Abri Préhistorique du Cap Blanc


Useful Information

Location: 6.5 km from Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, right bank of the Great Beune valley. Follow D48 from Les Eyzies to Saint Geniès.
Open: 15-MAY to 15-SEP Mon-Fri, Sun 9:30-17:30.
16-SEP to 14-MAY Mon-Fri, Sun 9:30-12:30, 14-17:30.
Closed 01-JAN, 01-MAY, 01-NOV, 11-NOV, 25-DEC.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 7, Children (0-17) free, Reduced EUR 4.50, Students (18-25) from the EU free, Disabled free, Unemployed free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5.50.
[2011]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=25min. self guided
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Abri Préhistorique du Cap Blanc, F-24620 Marquay les Eyzies. Tel: +33-553592174, Fax: +33-553283954
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 21:54:51 $

History

 
1908discovered by Raymond Peyrille.
1926declared a Monument historique.
1979enrolled on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
1995entrance building constructed.

Description

The Abri du Cap Blanc (White Cape rock shelter) was named after the white colour of the limestone cliff above the shelter, the Cretaceous limestone of Cognacian age. It is famous for a huge relief of Magdalenian age which is unique for the Périgord. Similar reliefs are known from the  Roc-aux-Sorciers near Angles-sur-l'Anglin, Département Vienne and in the  Abri Reverdit near Sergeac.

The relief is divided into two panels, the left one is nine meters long, the right one is four meters long. They show 14 different animals, six of them are horses. All of the horses head to the right, only one heads to the left. This one is at the central position of the abri and also the biggest horse relief, 2.5m long, which is about life size. It is also at a slightly lower position and the feet and part of the belly are missing. There is a horizontal line along the wall, below which the cliff surface is weathered away and the art completely destroyed. The erosional process which caused this is said to have been frost. But it is hard to understand how frost could harm the lower part of the rock and ignore the upper part. Probably a pile of debris created a cold trap behind at the foot of the wall, or the foot of the wall was wet because of the sediments while the upper part was dry and not harmed by the frost.

Three wisents (Bison bonasus) were probably less important, one of them lost its head in favour of a horse head. A fourth wisent was found on a rock which fell off the wall and is now on display in the Musée d'Aquitaine. A copy is on display in the cave. The rest of the pictures are hard to identify, some are probably deers.

Traces of red ocker on the wall suggest, that the whole relief was once painted. It seems they were removed by an very early cleaning attempt.

The abri is today part of a museum with explanatory exhibits. It explains the different techniques used here and in other sites to create the reliefs. It also shows various reliefs found at other places. The whole building protects the cliff face from further erosion. Before the discovery the reliefs were protected by a thick layer of sediments, which caused constant temperature and humidity and no influence from outside. After the discovery the wall was only protected from rain water by the overhanging cliff. A sort of eaves trough cut into the rock above protected it from the water running down the cliff face. But the Cretaceaous limestone is very soft and easily eroded, and even weather changes, changing temperatures and especially frost immediately started to destroy the friese. The building constructed in 1995 covers the whole cliff face and creates an atmosphere similar to the local caves, with constant temperature and humidity.

The Abri du Cap Blanc is one of the sites where tickets are sold at Font de Gaume. It is the reached on a 15 minutes drive on well signed, winding roads. From the shady parking lot a 200m long trail leads downhill through forest to the foot of the cliff below the parking lot. The trail is paved but uneven, the museum has no steps, the place is more or less wheelchair accessible.


See also


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