Grotte de Roque St Christophe


Useful Information

Location: 9 km north of Les Eyzies on D706, on the south bank of the Vezere River.
Open: FEB to JUN daily 10-18:30.
JUL AUG daily 10-20.
SEP to 11-NOV daily 10-18:30.
12-NOV to JAN daily 14-17.
Last admission 45min before closing.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (12-16) EUR 4.50, Children (5-11) EUR 3.50, Children (0-4) free, Students EUR 6.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 6.
[2011]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=1,000m.
Guided tours: Self guided: D=45min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Grotte de Roque St Christophe, Peyzac le Moustier, F-24260 Les Eyzies. Tel: +33-553-507045, Fax: +33-553-510321 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

 
70,000 BColdest human remains in the abri.
6th ctybegin of Medival settlement.
10th ctyRoque fortress erected by the Bishop Frotaire.
1588village abandoned.
1912-1913excavated by Denis Peyrony.
1979-1981excavated by Julia Roussot Larroque and Alain Roussot.

Description

The Roque St Christophe is a steep limestone cliff above the Vezere river. The oldest human remains discovered here are 70,000 years old, main inhabitation was between 40,000 and 14,000 years ago. And it was inhabited by a small town of 1,500 people during Medieval times. The reason are about 100 abris or rock shelters which exist along the 1,000m long and 80m high cliff face on five different levels. There is a terrace about one third from the top, where the rock is abviously softer and the natural overhang was widened by the Medieval people. This place was a natural castle, so it is logical the people used this advantage. During the Pleistozene it was a protection against wild animals, probably other clans. But during the Middle Ages it became essential to have a well fortified city against the Norman raids in France, the countless battles of the 100 Years War and the French Wars of Religion. During the latter, the village was finally destroyed and abandoned in 1588.

The visit on the Roque St Christophe concentrates on the Medieval history of the place. There are so many remains from this era, like holes in the walls, terraces, staircases, fire places with chimney, water cisterns, and artificial caves. Much has been reconstructed, a complete boxwork house, and some construction machinery like a wooden crane.

According to legend, the fortress was built at the end of the 10th century by the Bishop Frotaire. After more than 300 years, in 1401 on Holy Thursday, the fortress was conquered and destroyed by Nicolas Roger de Beaufort, comte de Beaufort, and a fried of the English. He burned down the fortress and killed all inhabitants. His English allies understood the great atrategic importance of the rock and occupied the place. They built a new castle, where they collected the valuables they stole and raided in France. After only five years, the French reclaimed the castle and the English were thrown out. As they were not able to take the stolen treasure with them, they hid the gold and jewels in a secret chamber of the rock. The treasure has never been rediscovered.

The long inhabitation destroyed obviously a lot archaeologic remains. The intensive Medieval use must have destroyed most of the prehistoric sediments. But there were some illegal excavations around the turn of the 20th century. Then in 1912 and 1913 there were excavations by Denis Peyrony, the teacher from Les Eyzies, in the name of the French Fine Arts Society. They revealed flint tools, chisels, engravers, scrapers, and blades characteristic for the Périgordien IV. Rather enigmatic is a conic ivory object, which was probably the stopper of a goat skin water bottle.


See also


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