The Limousin region lies on the western slopes of the Massif Central. This is an area often considered off the beaten track, where romantic notions of rural French life still exist. The region is well known for its farming – the Limousin cattle, and the city of Limoges is known for its long traditions of porcelain and enamels. The departments in Limousin are: Corrèze, Creuse and Haute-Vienne.
A typical dolmen, with four stones supporting a capstone thus creating a four sided chamber in which bodies and other cremated remains would have been placed. About 30 metres away is a single standing stone. The dolmen was excavated in 1895, when fragments of Neolithic pottery and various stone implements, including an arrow head, were recovered. The stone used for these implements came from neighbouring regions.
On 10 June in 1944 German soldiers entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, they killed 642 people and all but destroyed the village. What remained of the village has been left as a shrine, with only minimal preservational measures to stabilise the ruins. Today you walk down the streets, with the reains of the tramway, cars left as they were abandoned on that fateful day … go to Oradour-sur-Glane.
Until 1980 this Neolithic dolmen was little more than a pile of stones. Excavations then enabled the cap and upright stones to be reassembled. At this time archaeologists were able to recover the Neolithic deposit, which was typical of funerary megalithic monuments of this kind, containing pottery fragments and stone arrowheads. The acidity of the soil, however, has prevented any human remains being preserved.
This charming museum, located in the heart of the Medieval city of Tulle, is housed in what was once the cloister of a thirteenth century Benedictine monastery. Now, spread over three floors and with a wide variety of objects, this museum displays the prehistory and history of the lower Limousin. Although Medieval in focus, sculpture and embroidery, the museum also has displays of Gallo-Roman artefacts. Website
In 1908, in a cave in the commune of La Chapelle aux Saints, archaeologists discovered a near-complete adult male Neanderthal skeleton. As an intentional burial, this was the first ever recognised interment of a Neanderthal body. Excavations also produced numerous artefacts and bones of extinct animals. The museum has exceptional displays about the importance of Neanderthals … go to La Chapelle-aux-Saints.
Photo Credits, thank you to Barbara Walton for the photographs of the two dolmens.