Site: Rock Art
Abri du Cap Blanc is a small shelter with a number of bas-relief sculptures of animals, mostly horses. These carved animals at Cap Blanc are the finest examples of sculptured Palaeolithic art still in situ, and open to the public in France. The highlight of the frieze is a carved horse, the body of which measures over two metres in length.
The cave was discovered by workman in 1909 digging in the cave. Because nothing like this had been seen in the area before, and the authenticity of Palaeolithic cave art had only just been accepted, much damage was done to both the carved panel and the archaeological deposit in front of the panel. Archaeological excavations revealed a number of stone tools, some of which at least had been used to make the carvings. As the tools are thought to be of the Middle Magdalenian, i.e. about 15,000 years ago, this is a good indication of the age of the carvings. Excavations also revealed the body of a young female – the original has been replaced by a cast.
Facilities & Visiting Cap Blanc:
The shelter has been enclosed with a substantial building, which now also houses a very good museum. Although the building is wheelchair accessible, it is down a steep slope from the car park. There is a road leading to the front door that can be used for people with mobility issues. Otherwise it is a walk down from the car park, about 200 metres.
Buying tickets for Cap Blanc
Tickets for entry to Cap Blanc can only be bought at the ticket office to Font de Gaume. There are not the restrictions on numbers visiting Cap Blanc, and it is not as popular as Font de Gaume (it should be!). Consequently, getting tickets is not as difficult as it is for Font de Gaume and Les Combarelles. But it is probably advisable to get to the ticket office as early as you can on the day you wish to visit.
Where is Cap Blanc?
Objects & Artefacts in Museum Collections Elsewhere:
Two carved blocks are now on display in the Musée d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux, along with many of the artefacts found recovered during archaeological excavations of the deposit. The original skeleton found in the excavations in front of the frieze is now in the collections of The Field Museum in Chicago – and was on display as part of Scenes from the Stone Age, Lascaux III exhibit there.
- Official Website
- The Vézère Valley and Cap Blanc on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Archaeology Travel article: Tips for Visiting the Dordogne’s Ice Age Caves with Children
Photographs of Cap Blanc