Site: Rock Art
This small cave or rock shelter has long been used by the inhabitants of the hamlet of Saint-Cirq as a store. The engraved images were only discovered quite by chance in 1952. There are not many individual depictions, but one of these is an exceptional image and should be seen for this reason alone. And it is from this figure that the cave takes its name. In the deepest part of the cave there are a few fine line engravings, a stylised human head, a bison head and a horse. But the more interesting image is that of a human figure with a large penis – which has always been called the sorcerer – hence la grotte du socier. Closer to what would have been the entrance of the cave are a few horses and a bison that were carved in low relief.
This cave stands in stark contrast to Lascaux, that has a large cavern with enormous, larger than life-size paintings of animals. At Saint-Cirq there are only a few engraved images, in a relatively small cave; the ceiling of which was less than a metre above ground level at the time some of the engraving were made. The engraving of the sorcerer alone is worth the visit. But for anyone with a particular interest in prehistoric art, visiting this cave allows you to get a feel for the diversity of sites in the area.
Facilities & Visiting Saint Cirq – La Grotte du Sorcier:
The cave is open from April to mid November. If you wish to visit at other times of the year, you are able to telephone to make an arrangement.
As with all the caves in the area the number of people allowed into the cave each day is controlled, and there are also set times for the guided tours. But, because this is a less popular decorated cave getting tickets for La Grotte du Sorcier is much easier than many of the other caves in the area. Also, the cave is open much later in the evening than most of the others – 7.30 pm in July and August.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office and souvenir shop, which is just below the cave entrance. Usually you can drive up to the cliff and get yourself on the next guided tour, or the one after. If you have to wait, there is an interesting museum that has exhibits about the Stone Age in the area, the excavations that took place in the cave, as well as certain palaeontological exhibits.
Where is La Grotte du Sorcier?
The rock shelter is in a small village not that far from Les Eyzies called Saint-Cirq. The decorated shelter is right up against the higher level of a limestone cliff – with picturesque troglodytic dwellings along the same cliff.
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- Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours (telephone number: + 33 5 53 07 14 37)
- Vézère Valley and La Grotte du Sorcier on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
- Archaeology Travel article: Tips for Visiting the Dordogne’s Ice Age Caves with Children
Photographs of Saint Cirq