Grotte de Régourdou

Le Régourdou


Useful Information

Location: Dordogne, 2km south of Montignac on the D704.
Open: FEB to JUN daily 11-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP to NOV daily 11-18.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-12) EUR 3, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 3, Children (6-12) EUR 2.50.
[2011]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=40min
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotte de Regourdou, F-24290 Montignac s/ Vézère. Tel: +33-553-518123, Fax: +33-553-518123. E-mail: contact
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 21:54:56 $

History

 
1954discovered by the local farmer Roger Constant.
22-SEP-1957lower jaw of a Neanderthal discovered.
1961-1965excavated by Eugène Bonifay and B. Vandermeersch.
1993complete site protected as a Monument Historique.

Description

The cave Le Régourdou is famous for the discovery of a Neanderthal burial. In French it is mostly called Gisement Régourdou, because there is actually no cave. It is a huge collapse doline with some shafts, one of them excavated to a depth of 35m. The cave was named after the farm Régourdou where it is located, only 600m from the famous Lascaux Cave on the same hill. It was discovered in 1954 by the owner Roger Constant.

Actually there was no cave entrance before the collapse in 1954. Such collapse dolines are common in karst areas, when the ceiling becomes to unstable, it collapses and the debris covers the floor. But this collapse happened in the backyard of Roger Constant, He was convinced, it was a yet unknown entry into Lascaux cave. He started to remove the debris from the collapse so he could enter the cave. On his private property this work went on almost unnoticed for years. But he discovered numerous stone tools and other artifacts. And while he was not able to work in an archaologic manner, he still collected the findings.

After three years of work he discovered the lower jaw of a Neanderthal on 22-SEP-1957. After this find, he went to the city hall to obtain an official excavation permit, which was granted to him. However, the permit was revoked when the importance of his discovery became known, and the archaeologists even brought police with them, which should arrest him if he refused to stop with his excavations. Obviously there were some misunderstandings and some quarrel about who was allowed to do what. They made an arrangement, the archaeologists were allowed to excavate the Neanderthal burial, while Mr Constant continued his work in another part of the doline. He dug a deep shaft where he discovered fossils and an ocher deposit, which was used to paint the reproductions at Lascaux II. When the whole site was declared a Monument Historique in 1993 his excavations finally ended. He never discovered the Lascaux connection,

The Neanderthal burial was covered by a huge rock, a funeral slab, which weighed 850 kg. The rock was removed, but it was unstable, so it was destroyed in the process. Under the slab there was the skeleton of a Neanderthal in a fetal position, surrounded by his weapons and hunting trophies. Among the trophies were numerous bones of a brown bear, probably sacrificed for the burial. The burial was surrounded by about twenty stone boxes which contained the bones of bears. It was dated to be 70,000 years old. This burial is extraordinary, as it contained an almost complete skeleton of a Neanderthal. Just to give an impression: other Neanderthal sites revealed a few teeth and pieces of the skull and are considered important sites! The skeleton is now on display in the Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie du Périgord.

Today the house of Mr Constant is transformed into a museum. It shows all the discoveries Roger Constant made in his doline. This includes a high quality replica of the jaw he discovered. He was impressed by the numerous remains of brown bears so he decided to add a small zoo with brown bears to the site.


See also


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