Site: Cave Art
There are two caves at Cougnac, one with that is shown for its geology – it does have spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations – and the other for its archaeology – more specifically its cave paintings. The decorated cave has some of the finest examples of cave paintings in France, and this was the first site at which radiocarbon dates were obtained for European Palaeolithic cave paintings. A sample was removed from a black dot made using charcoal and produced a date of 14,290 years ago. Samples taken from animal figures produced a range of dates between 23 and 25,000 years ago.
Cougnac has a number of intriguing and enigmatic depictions – and the guides are very good at pointing these out to visitors. Interestingly there are no bovids depicted in the cave, there are some fine examples of mammoth and ibex. Of particular interest are the large paintings of megaloceros – an extinct deer. A very rare image is the so-called the ‘wounded man’ motif: a human figure has a number of lines drawn leading out from the body. These have been traditionally interpreted as spears sticking into the body. There are only three known examples of this image in European cave art, and there are two in Cougnac. In a number of places the artists has made use of natural features on the rock face in his or her depictions.
Facilities & Visiting the Cougnac Caves:
The guided tour takes in both caves, and starts with the geology. A tour of both caves lasts about an hour.
Where are the Grottes des Cougnac?
Archaeology Travel’s Tip for visiting Cougnac:
Because the cave permits large groups, it is a popular attraction for local school groups during school terms. If you get included in a guided tour with a school group be advised the commentary will be aimed at the age of the school children. For this reason, if you are travelling without children and prefer to visit without a large group of children – it is best to visit the cave in the afternoon.
- Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours
- Archaeology Travel article: Tips for Visiting the Dordogne’s Ice Age Caves with Children
Photographs of Cougnac