CLIFF CASTLES AND CAVE DWELLINGS OF EUROPE
S. BARING-GOULD, M.A.
"The house i' the rock . . . no life to ours." CYMBELINE III. 3.
When in 1850 appeared the Report of the Secretary of War for the United States, containing Mr. J. H. Simpson's account of the Cliff Dwellings in Colorado, great surprise was awakened in America, and since then these remains have been investigated by many explorers, of whom I need only name Holmes' "Report of the Ancient Ruins in South-West Colorado during the Summers of 1875 and 1876," and Jackson's "Ruins of South- West Colorado in 1875 and 1877." Powell, Newberry, &c., have also described them. A summary is in "Prehistoric America," by the Marquis de Nadaillac, 1885, and the latest contribution to the subject are articles in Scribner's Magazine by E. S. Curtis, 1906 and 1909.
The Pueblos Indians dwell for the most part at a short distance from the Rio Grande; the Zuni, however, one of their best known tribes, are settled far from that river, near the sources of the Gila. In the Pueblos country are tremendous canons of red sandstone, and in their sides are the habitations of human beings perched on every ledge in inaccessible positions. Major Powell, United States Geologist, expressed his amazement at seeing nothing for whole days but perpendicular cliffs everywhere riddled with human dwellings resembling the cells of a honeycomb. The apparently inaccessible heights were scaled by means of long poles with lateral teeth disposed like the rungs of a ladder, and inserted at intervals in notches let into the face of the perpendicular rock. The most curious of these dwellings, compared to which the most Alpine chalet is of easy access, have ceased to be occupied, but the Maqui, in North-West Arizona, still inhabit villages of stone built on sandstone tables, standing isolated in the midst of a sandy ocean almost destitute of vegetation.
The cause of the abandonment of the cliff dwellings has been the diminished rainfall, that rendering the land barren has sent its population elsewhere. The rivers, the very streams, are dried up, and only parched water-courses show where they once flowed.
"The early inhabitants of the region under notice were wonderfully skilful in turning the result of the natural weathering of the rocks to account. To construct a cave-dwelling, the entrance to the cave or the front of the open gallery was walled up with adobes, leaving only a small opening serving for both door and window. The cliff houses take the form and dimensions of the platform or ledge from which they rise. The masonry is well laid, and it is wonderful with what skill the walls are joined to the cliff, and with what care the aspect of the neighbouring rocks has been imitated in the external architecture." [Footnote: Nadaillac, "Prehistoric America," Lond. 1885, p. 205.]
In Asia also these rock-dwellings abound. The limestone cliffs of Palestine are riddled with them. They are found also in Armenia and in Afghanistan. At Bamian, in the latter, "the rocks are perforated in every direction. A whole people could put up in the 'Twelve Thousand Galleries' which occupy the slopes of the valley for a distance of eight miles. Isolated bluffs are pierced with so many chambers that they look like honeycombs." [Footnote: Reclus, "Asia," iii. p. 245.]
That Troglodytes have inhabited rocks in Africa has been known since the time of Pliny.
But it has hardly been realised to what an extent similar cliff dwellings have existed and do still exist in Europe.
In 1894, in my book, "The Deserts of Southern France," I drew attention to rock habitations in Dordogne and Lot, but I had to crush all my information on this subject into a single chapter. The subject, however, is too interesting and too greatly ramified to be thus compressed. It is one, moreover, that throws sidelights on manners and modes of life in the past that cannot fail to be of interest. The description given above of cliff dwellings in Oregon might be employed, without changing a word, for those in Europe.
To the best of my knowledge, the theme of European Troglodytes has remained hitherto undealt with, though occasional mention has been made of those on the Loire. It has been taken for granted that cave-dwellers belonged to a remote past in civilised Europe; but they are only now being expelled in Nottinghamshire and Shropshire, by the interference of sanitary officers.
Elsewhere, the race is by no means extinct. In France more people live underground than most suppose. And they show no inclination to leave their dwellings. Just one month ago from the date of writing this page, I sketched the new front that a man had erected to his paternal cave at Villiers in Loir et Cher. The habitation was wholly subterranean, but then it consisted of one room alone. The freshly completed face was cut in freestone, with door and window, and above were sculptured the aces of hearts, spades, and diamonds, an anchor, a cogwheel and a fish. Separated from this mansion was a second, divided from it by a buttress of untrimmed rock, and this other also was newly fronted, occupied by a neat and pleasant-spoken woman who was vastly proud of her cavern residence. "Mais c'est tout ce qu'on peut desirer. Enfin on s'y trouve tres bien."
Formation of chalk—Of dolomitic limestone—Where did the first men live—Their Eden in the chalk lands—Migration elsewhere—Pit dwellings—Civilisation stationary—Troglodytes—Antiquity of man—Les Eyzies—Hotel du Paradis—The first colonists of the Vezere Valley— Their artistic accomplishments—Painting and sculpture—Rock dwellings in Champagne—Of a later period—Civilisation does not progress uniformly—The earth—Book of the Revelation of the past—La Laugerie Basse—Blandas—Conduche—Grotte de Han—The race of Troglodytes not extinct
Troglodytes of the Etang de Berre—The underground town of Og, King of Bashan—Troo—Sanitation—Ancient mode of disposing of refuse—The talking well—Les Roches—Chateau de Bandan—Chapel of S. Gervais—La Grotte des Vierges—Rochambeau—Le Roi des Halles—La Roche Corbon— Human refuse at Ezy—Saumur—Are there still pagans among them?— Bourre—Courtineau—The basket-makers of Villaines—Grioteaux—Sauliac —Cuzorn—Brantome—La Roche Beaucourt—The Swabian Alb—Sibyllen loch— Vrena Beutlers Hoehle—Schillingsloch—Schloessberg Hoehle—Rock village in Sicily—In the Crimea—In Egypt—In volcanic breccia—Balmes de Montbrun—Grottoes de Boissiere—Grottoes de Jonas—The rock Ceyssac— The sandstone cave-dwellings of Correze—Their internal arrangement— Cluseaux—Cave-dwellings in England—In Nottinghamshire—In Staffordshire—In Cornwall—In Scotland—The savage in man—Reversion to savagery—The Gubbins—A stone-cutter—Daniel Gumb—A gentleman of Sens—Toller of Clun Downs
Prussian invasion of Bohemia—Adersbach and Wickelsdorf labyrinths— Refuges of the Israelites—Gauls suffocated in caves by Caesar— Armenians by Corbulo—Story of Julius Sabinus—Saracen invasion—The devastation of Aquitaine by Pepin—Rock refuges in Quercy—The Northmen—Persecution of the Albigenses—The cave of Lombrive—The English domination of Guyenne—Two kinds of refuges—Saint Macaire— Alban—Refuge of Chateau Robin—Exploration—Methods of defence— Souterrain of Fayrolle—Of Saint Gauderic—Of Fauroux—Of Olmie— Aubeterre—Refuges under castles—Enormous number of souterrains in France—Victor Hugo's account of those in Brittany—Refuges resorted to in the time of the European War—Those in Picardy—Gapennes—Some comparatively modern—Condition of the peasantry during the Hundred Years' War—Tyranny of the nobles—Their barbarities—Refuges in Ireland—In England—The Dene Holes—at Chislehurst—At Tilbury—Their origin—Fogous in Cornwall—Refuges in Haddingtonshire—In Egg— Slaughter of the Macdonalds—Refuges in the Isle of Rathlin—Massacre by John Norris—Refuges in Crete—Christians suffocated in one by the Turks—Lamorciere in Algeria. . . . . .
Distinction between souterrain and cliff refuges—How these latter were reached—Gazelles—Peuch Saint Sour—Story of S. Sour—The Roc d'Aucor —Exploration—How formerly reached—Boundoulaou—Riou Ferrand—Cliff refuge near Brengues—Les Mees—Fadarelles—Puy Labrousse—Soulier-de- Chasteaux—Refuges in Auvergne—Meschers—In Ariege—The Albigenses— Caves in Derbyshire—Reynard's cave—Cotton's cave—John Cann's cave— Elford's cave on Sheep's Tor.... 103-116
CLIFF CASTLES. THE ROUTIERS
The seigneural castle—Protection sought against the foes without and against the peasant in revolt—Instance of the Chateau Les Eyzies— Independence of the petty nobles—Condition of the country in France— In Germany—Weakness of the Emperor—The Raubritter—Italy—The nobles brought into the towns—Their towers—Division of the subject— Difference between the English manor-house and the foreign feudal castle—The English in France—The Hundred Years' War—Hopeless condition of the people—The Free Companies—How recruited—Crusade against the Albigenses—Barons no better than Routiers—Death of chivalry—Routiers were rarely Englishmen—Had no scruples as to whom they served—Disregarded treaties—The captains were Gascons or French —The nobles of the south on the English side—Nests in the rock— Depopulation and devastation—Insolence of the Companies—Bigaroque— Roc de Tayac—Corn—Roquefort—Brengues—The Bishop of Cahors dies there—Chateau du Diable at Cabrerets—Defile des Anglais—Peyrousse— Les Roches du Tailleur—Trosky—The scolding women—The English not forgotten in Guyenne . . . . . 117-141
The difference between feudal castles and those of the Routiers— Illustration of the character of the nobles—Two Counts of Perigord— The nobles in Auvergne—"Les grands Jours"—La Roche Saint Christophe— Surprised and destroyed—Reoccupied by the Huguenots—Final destruction—La Roche Gageac—Its history—Jean Tarde—Ravages of the Huguenots—Gluges—La Roche Lambert—Habichstein—Buergstein—The spy— Kronmetz—Covolo—Puxerloch—The shadowless man—Nottingham Castle— Arrest of Mortimer—Outmost castles—La Grotte de Jioux—Clovis crosses the Vienne—Le Gue du Loir—Antoine de Bourbon—Calvin at Saint Saturnin—His cave—La Roche Corail—Cave in which the "Institute of the Christian Religion" was written—Effects produced by this work —Preparation of men's minds for reform—Havoc wrought to art by the Calvinists—La Rochebrune—A cave-colander—Necessity for outlook stations—Frontier fortifications
Basilicas and catacumbal churches—Preference of the people for the latter—The cult of martyrs encouraged this—Crypts—Elevation of relics—Church of SS. John and Paul on the Coelian Hill—Temples were originally sepulchres—Basilican churches converted into mausoleums— Dedications—Altars of wood changed for altars of stone—At first the bodies of martyrs were not dismembered—But dismemberment was made necessary by the transformation—The Martyrium of Poitiers—S. Emilion —Carvings—Crypt—Aubeterre—A Huguenot stronghold—Orders issued by Jeanne d'Albret—Her extended powers—The monolithic church—Menaced by ruin—Rocamadour—Lirac—Mimet—Caudon—Natural caves used as churches—Gurat—Lanmeur—Story of S. Melor—Dolmen Chapel of the Seven Sleepers—Another at Cangas-de-Ones—Confolens—Subterranean churches in Egypt—In Crete—The sacred caves in Palestine—Revival of cave sanctuaries by the Crusaders—Springs of water in crypts
Tibetian recluses—Christian hermits in Syria and Egypt—The Essenes and Therapeutae—Description by Philo of the latter—Buddhist and Manichaeean influence—Difference in motive—Likeness superficial— Possible necessity for the adoption of asceticism—Instance of extravagant asceticism in Syria—Extravagances in Ireland—In England —Early European solitaries—The Beatus Hoehle—Grotto of S. Cybard— Decadence—Hermits in Languedoc—In Germany—A grocer hermit— Hermitage at S. Maurice—The Wild Kirchlein—The cave of S. Verena at Soleure—That of Magdalen at Freiburg—Oberstein—Hermitage at Brive— La Sainte Beaume—Souge—Villiers—Montserrat—Subiaco—La Vernia— Warkworth—Knaresborough—Robin Hood's stable—Roche—Anchor Church— Royston cave—Its carvings—Kindly remembrance of the hermit—The hermit a loss
The hermits self-excommunicate—Liability to create a schism—S. Paul— S. Mary of Egypt—S. Anthony—Enormous number of solitaries compels organisation into monasteries—Causes inducing flight to the desert—S. Athanasius at Treves—Writes the "Life of S. Anthony"—Impulse given to flight from the world in the West—S. Martin—Desires to imitate the Lives of the Fathers of the Desert—At Poitiers—Founds Liguge—Rock cells—Later history and ruin—Martin becomes Bishop of Tours—Founds Marmoutier—History and ruin—Martin and the masqueraders—Present state—Baptistry—The Seven Sleepers—Brice elected bishop—Obliged to fly the see—Return and penance—Cave of S. Leobard—Abbey of Brantome —Underground church—Other caves—"Papists' Holes" at Nottingham—Rock monastery of Meteora—Der el Adra—Inkermann
Polignac—Greek oracles—Charonion—Cave of the Nymphs—Exhalations— Delos—Care of Trophonios—Experiences of Pausanius—Cave at Acharaca —Sibylline oracles—Destruction—Forged oracles—Oracles among the Jews—Story of Hallbjoern—Sounds issuing from caves—Echo—AEolian cave of Terni—Purgatory of S. Patrick—The Knight Owain—Visit by Sir William Lisle—By a monk of Eymstadt—Prohibited by Alexander VI.— Prohibition rescinded by Pius III.—Destroyed in 1622—Revival of pilgrimages—Description by Gough—Friar Conrad—Lazarus Aigner— Roderic, King of the Goths—Sortes Sacrae—Condemned by the Church— Nevertheless practised—Instances from Gregory of Tours—Incubation in pagan shrines—The cave of Cybele—Temples of Isis and Esculapius— Churches founded by Constantino dedicated to S. Michael—Incubation practiced in them—Instances—Churches of S. Cosmas and Damian— Practice at Caerleon—Superstition hard to kill—Grotto of Lourdes
Humphrey Kynaston—His adventurous life—Cave at Ness Cliff—Chinamen— David at Adullam—Bandit caves in Palestine—Lombrive—Surtshellir— Feruiden's cave—Gargas—La Crouzafce—The haunts of Grettir— Dunterton—Precautions against burglary—Story of K. F. Masch—His capture—The Leichtweishohle—Adersbach retreats—Babinsky—His capture
Difference between the tombs of the Israelites and those of the Egyptians—The reason for this—Jewish catacombs at Rome—Christian catacombs—Puticoli—Numerous catacombs—Those of Syracuse—Those of Paris—Crypts became vaults for kings and nobles—Desecration—That of Louis XI.—The instinct of immortality—Cave burials—In the Petit Morin—Scandinavian burials—Death regarded as suspended animation— Hervor at the cairn of Angantyr—The cairn-breaking of Gest—The barrow of Gunnar—Sigrun visits her husband in his cairn—The story of Asmund and Asvid—The same ideas in Christian times—Mamertinus and Corcodemus—"De Miraculis Mortuorum"—Ancestor worship—Persistence of usages derived from a remote antiquity—Neglect of thought of the dead —Double nature of man—The spiritual world—A walking postman— Conclusion
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
CLIFF CASTLE, BRENGUES CAVE DWELLERS AT DUCLAIR SAULIAC (Photo by GIBMA) GRIOTEAUX LA ROCHEBRUNE SKETCH PLAN OF ROCK STABLE, COMMARQUES PLAN OF ROCK HOLES IN NOTTINGHAM PARK DRAKELOW AUBETERRE PLAN OF THE REFUGE OF CHATEAU ROBIN THE CHATEAU OF FAYROLLES CLUSEAU DE FAUROUX LA ROCHE GAGEAC LE PEUCH S. SOUR CAVES OF MESCHERS CAVE REFUGE AT SOULIER DE CHASTEAU LE DEFILE DES ANGLAIS, LOT (Photo by BAUDEL, S. CERE) CHATEAU DES ANGLAIS, BRENGUES CHATEAU DU DIABLE, CABRERETS (EXTERIOR) CHATEAU DU DIABLE, CABRERETS (INTERIOR) (Photo by BAUDEL, S. CERE) CORN, LOT (Photo by BAUDEL, S. CERE) CHATEAU DES ANGLAIS, AUTOIRE (Photo by BAUDEL, S. CERE) COVOLO LA ROCHE DU TAILLEUR KRONMETZ THE PUXERLOCH, STYRIA HABICHSTEIN, BOHEMIA ROCK MONASTERY, NOTTINGHAM PARK ROCK MONASTERY, NOTTINGHAM PARK LA ROCHE CORAIL LA ROCHE CORAIL THE FIRST HALL GUE DE LOIR LES ROCHES PLAN OF MARTYRIUM MONOLITHIC CHURCH OF S. EMILION AUBETERRE, CHARENTE, INTERIOR OP MONOLITHIC CHURCH (Photo by DELAGE) ROCAMADOUR (Photo by BAUDEL, S. CERE) AUBETERRE, CHARENTE (Photo by DELAGE) SUBTERRANEAN CHURCH, AUBETERRE (Photo byDELAGE) DOLMEN CHAPEL OF THE SEVEN SLEEPERS PLAN OF DOLMEN CHAPEL NEAR PLOUARET PLAN OF CHAPEL OF S. AMADOU SCULPTURE IN ROYSTON CAVE (Photo by R.H. CLARK, ROYSTON) SCULPTURE IN ROYSTON CAVE (Photo by R.H. CLARK, ROYSTON) ROYSTON CAVE (Photo by R. H. CLARK, ROYSTON) CHATEAU DE RIGNAC LE TROU BOUROU ROCK BAPTISTERY OF ST. MARTIN TRIUMPH OF CHRIST OVER DEATH (Photo by LACROIX) CAVES OF LIGUGE NESS CLIFF KYNASTON'S CAVE
CLIFF CASTLES AND CAVE DWELLINGS OF EUROPE
In a vastly remote past, and for a vastly extended period, the mighty deep rolled over the surface of a world inform and void, depositing a sediment of its used up living tenants, the microscopic cases of foraminiferae, sponges, sea-urchins, husks, and the cast limbs of crustaceans. The descending shells of the diatoms like a subaqueous snow gradually buried the larger dejections. This went on till the sediment had attained a thickness of over one thousand feet. Then the earth beneath, heaved and tossed in sleep, cast off its white featherbed, projected it on high to become the chalk formation that occupies so distinct and extended a position in the geological structure of the globe. The chalk may be traced from the North of Ireland to the Crimea, a distance of about 11,140 geographical miles, and, in an opposite direction, from the South of Sweden to Bordeaux, a distance of 840 geographical miles.
It extends as a broad belt across France, like the sash of a Republican mayor. You may travel from Calais to Vendome, to Tours, Poitiers, Angouleme, to the Gironde, and you are on chalk the whole way. It stretches through Central Europe, and is seen in North Africa. From the Crimea it reaches into Syria, and may be traced as far as the shores of the sea of Aral in Central Asia.
The chalk is not throughout alike in texture; hard beds alternate with others that are soft—beds with flints like plum-cake, and beds without, like white Spanish bread.
We are accustomed in England to chalk in rolling downs, except where bitten into by the sea, but elsewhere it is riven, and presents cliffs, and these cliffs are not at all like that of Shakespeare at Dover, but overhang, where hard beds alternate with others that are friable. These latter are corroded by the weather, and leave the more compact projecting like the roofs of penthouses. They are furrowed horizontally, licked smooth by the wind and rain. Not only so, but the chalk cliffs are riddled with caves, that are ancient water-courses. The rain falling on the surface is drunk by the thirsty soil, and it sinks till, finding where the chalk is tender, it forms a channel and flows as a subterranean rill, spouts forth on the face of the crags, till sinking still lower, it finds an exit at the bottom of the cliff, when it leaves its ancient conduit high and dry.
But before the chalk was tossed aloft there had been an earlier upheaval from the depths of the ocean, that of the Jurassic limestone. This was built up by coral insects working indefatigably through long ages, piling up their structures, as the sea-bottom slowly sank, straining ever higher, till at length their building was crushed together and projected on high, to form elevated plateaux, as the Causses of Quercy, and Alpine ranges, as the Dolomites of Brixen. But in the uplifting of this deposit, as it was inelastic, the strain split it in every direction, and down the rifts thus formed danced the torrents from higher granitic and schistous ranges, forming the gorges of the Tarn, the Ardeche, the Herault, the Gaves, and the Timee, in France.
It has been a puzzle to decide which appeared first, the egg out of which the fowl was hatched, or the hen which laid the egg; and it is an equal puzzle to the anthropologist to say whether man was first brought into existence as a babe or in maturity. In both cases he would be helpless. The babe would need its mother, and the man be paralysed into incapacity through lack of experience. But without stopping to debate this question, we may conclude that naked, shivering and homeless humanity would have to be pupil to the beasts to learn where to shelter his head. Where did man first appear? Where was the Garden of Eden? Indisputably on the chalk. There he found all his first demands supplied. The walls of cretaceous rock furnished him with shelter under its ledges of overhanging beds, flints out of which to fashion his tools, and nodules of pyrites wherewith to kindle a fire. Providence through aeons had built up the chalk to be man's first home.
Incontestably, the great centres of population in the primeval ages were the chalklands, and next to them those of limestone. The chalk first, for it furnished man with flints, and the limestone next when he had learned to barter.
He could have lived nowhere else, till, after the lapse of ages, he had developed invention and adaptability. Besant and Rice, in "Ready-money Mortiboy," speak of Divine Discontent as the motive power impelling man to progress. Not till the chalk and the limestone shelters were stocked, and could hold no more, would men be driven to invent for themselves other dwellings. The first men being sent into the world without a natural coat of fur or feathers, would settle into caves or under overhanging roofs of rock, and with flint picked out of it, chipped and pointed, secure the flesh of the beast for food and its hide for clothing. Having accomplished this, man would sit down complacently for long ages. Indeed, there are certain branches of the human family that have progressed no further and display no ambition to advance.
Only when the districts of chalk and limestone were overstocked would the overflow be constrained to look elsewhere for shelter. Then some daring innovators, driven from the favoured land, would construct habitations by grubbing into the soil, and covering them with a roof of turf. The ancient Germans, according to Tacitus, lived in underground cabins, heaped over with dung to keep them warm during the long winter. With the invention of the earthenware stove, the German Bauer has been enabled to rise above the surface; but he cherishes the manure round his house, so to speak, about his feet, as affectionately as when it warmed his head.
For a long time it was supposed that our British ancestors lived in pit dwellings, and whole clusters of them were recorded and mapped on the Yorkshire Wolds, and a British metropolis of them, Caer Penselcoit, was reported in Somersetshire. Habitations sunk deep in the rock, with only a roof above ground. But the spade has cracked these archaeological theories like filberts, and has proved that the pits in the wolds were sunk after iron ore, or those in Somerset were burrowings for the extraction of chert. [Footnote: Atkinson, "Forty Years in a Moorland Parish." Lond. 1891, p. 161, et seq. Some pits are, however, not so dubious. At Hurstbourne, in Hants, pit habitations have been explored; others, in Kent and Oxfordshire, undoubtedly once dwelt in. In one of the Kentish pits 900 flakes and cores of flint were found. The Chysoyster huts in Cornwall and the "Picts houses" in Scotland were built up of stones, underground.] But the original paleolithic man did not get beyond the cavern or the rock-shelter. This latter was a retreat beneath an overhanging stratum of hard rock, screened against the weather by a curtain of skins. And why should he wish to change so long as these were available? We, from our advanced position, sitting in padded arm-chairs, before a coal fire, can see that there was room for improvement; but he could not. The rock-dwelling was commodious, dry, warm in winter and cool in summer, and it cost him no trouble to fashion it, or keep it in repair. He had not the prophetic eye to look forward to the arm-chair and the coal fire. Indeed, at all periods, down to the present day, those who desire to lead the simple life, and those who have been reared in these nature-formed dwelling-places, feel no ambition to occupy stone-built houses. In North Devon the cottages are reared of cob, kneaded clay, and thatched. A squire on his estate pulled down those he possessed and built in their place brick houses with slated roofs. The cottagers bitterly resented the change, their old mud-hovels were so much warmer. And in like manner the primeval man would not exchange his abris for a structural dwelling unless constrained so to do.
The ancients knew that the first homes of mankind were grottoes. They wrote of Troglodytes in Africa and of cave-dwellers in Liguria. In Arabia Petraea, a highly civilized people converted their simple rock- dwellings into sumptuous palaces.
I might fill pages with quotations to the purpose from the classic authors, but the reader would skip them all. It is not my intention to give a detailed account of the prehistoric cave-dwellers. They have been written about repeatedly. In 1882, Dr. Buckland published the results of his exploration of the Kirkdale Cave in Yorkshire in Reliquiae Diluvianae, and sought to establish that the remains there found pertained to the men who were swept away by Noah's flood. The publication of Sir Charles Lyall's "The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man," in 1863, was a shock to all such as clung to the traditional view that these deposits were due to a cosmic deluge, and that man was created 4004 B.C.
At first the announcements proving the antiquity of man were received with orthodox incredulity, because, although the strata, in which the remains were found, are the most modern of all earth's formations, still the testimony so completely contravened traditional beliefs, that the most conclusive evidence was required for its proof. Such evidence has been found, and is so strong, and so cumulative in character as to be now generally accepted as conclusive.
Evidence substantiating the thesis of Lyall had been accumulating, and the researches of Lartet and Christy in the Vezere valley, published in 1865-75, as Reliquiae Aquitanicae, conclusively proved that man in Perigord had been a naked savage, contemporary with the mammoth, the reindeer and the cave-bear, that he had not learned to domesticate animals, to sow fields, to make pots, and that he was entirely ignorant of the use of the metals.
Since then, in the valley of the Vezere, Les Eyzies in the Department of Dordogne, has become a classic spot. I have already described it in another work, [Footnote: "The Deserts of Southern France." Lond., Methuen, 1894.] but I must here say a few more words concerning it. On reaching the valley of the Vezere by the train from Perigueux, one is swung down from the plateau into a trough between steep scarps of chalk-rock that rise from 150 to 300 feet above the placid river. These scarps have been ploughed by the weather in long horizontal furrows, so that they lean over as though desirous of contemplating their dirty faces in the limpid water. Out of their clefts spring evergreen oaks, juniper, box and sloe-bushes. Moss and lichen stain the white walls that are streaked by black tricklings from above, and are accordingly not beautiful—their faces are like that of a pale, dirty, and weeping child with a cold in its head, who does not use a pocket-handkerchief. Jackdaws haunt the upper ledges and smaller caves that gape on all sides chattering like boys escaped from school, and anon a raven starts forth and hoarsely calls for silence. At the foot of the stooping crags, bowing to each other across the stream, lie masses that have broken from above, and atop and behind these is to be seen a string of cottages built into the rock, taking advantage of the overarching stratum of hard chalk; and cutting into it are russet, tiled roofs, where the cottagers have sought to expand beyond the natural shelter: they are in an intermediate position. Just as I have seen a caddis-worm emancipating itself from its cage, half in as a worm, half out as a fly.
Nature would seem to have specially favoured this little nook of France, which must have been the Eden of primeval man on Gallic soil. There he found ready-made habitations, a river abounding in fish, a forest teeming with game; constrained periodically to descend from the waterless plateaux, at such points as favoured a descent, to slake their thirst at the stream, and there was the nude hunter lurking in the scrub or behind a stone, with bow or spear awaiting his prey—his dinner and his jacket.
What beasts did he slay? The wild horse, with huge head, was driven by him over the edge of the precipice, and when it fell with broken limbs or spine, was cut up with flint knives and greedily devoured. The reindeer was also hunted, and the cumbersome mammoth enabled a whole tribe to gorge itself.
The grottoes perforating the cliff, like bubbles in Gruyere cheese, have been occupied consecutively to the present day. Opposite to Les Eyzies, hanging like a net or skein of black thread to the face of the precipice, is a hotel, part gallery, part cave—l'Auberge du Paradis; and a notice in large capitals invites the visitor to a "Course aux Canards."
When I was last there, reaching the tavern by a ladder erected in a grotto, I learned that an American couple on their honeymoon had recently slept in the guest-chamber scooped out of the living rock. The kitchen itself is a cavern, and in it are shelves, staged against the rock, offering Chartreuse, green and yellow, Benedictine, and Creme de Menthe. The proprietor also possesses a gramophone, and its strident notes we may well suppose imitate the tones of the first inhabitants of this den. Of the Roc de Tayac, in and against which this paradisaical hotel is plastered, I shall have more to say in another chapter.
The first men who settled in this favoured valley under shelters open to the blaze of the sun, in a soft and pleasant climate, where the air when not in proximity to men, is scented with mint, marjoram and juniper, where with little trouble a salmon might be harpooned, must have multiplied enormously—for every overhanging rock, every cavern, even every fallen block of stone, has been utilised as a habitation. Where a block has fallen, the prehistoric men scratched the earth away from beneath it, and couched in the trench. The ground by the river when turned up is black with the charcoal from their fires. A very little research will reward the visitor with a pocketful of flint knives and scrapers. And this is what is found not only on the main artery, but on all the lateral veins of water—wherever the cretaceous rocks project and invite to take shelter under them. Since the researches of Lartet and Christy, it has been known as an established fact that these savages were indued with rare artistic skill. Their delineations with a flint point on ivory and bone, of the mammoth, reindeer, and horse, are so masterly that these men stand forth as the spiritual ancestors of Landseer and Rosa Bonheur. And what is also remarkable is that the race which succeeded, that which discovered the use of metal, was devoid of the artistic sense, and their attempts at delineation are like the scribbling of an infant.
Of late years fresh discoveries have been made, revealing the fact that the Paleolithic men were able to paint as well as to engrave. In Les Combarelles and at Font-de-Gaume, far in the depths, where no light reaches, the walls have been found turned into a veritable picture- gallery. In the latter are twenty-four paintings; in the former forty- two.
Doctor Capitan and the Abbe Breuil were the first to discover the paintings in Les Combarelles. In an account read before the Academy of Sciences, they say: "Most frequently, the animals whose contours are indicated by a black outline, have all the surface thus circumscribed, entirely covered with red ochre. In some cases certain parts, such as the head of the urochs, seems to have been painted over with black and red together, so as to produce a brown tint. In other cases the head of the beast is black, and the rest of the body brown. This is veritable fresco painting, and the colour was usually applied after the outline had been graven in the stone. At other times some shading is added by hatching supplied after the outline had been drawn. Finally, the contours are occasionally thrown into prominence by scraping away the surface of the rock around, so as to give to the figures the appearance of being in low relief."
These wall paintings are by no means unique. They have been found as well at Pair-sur-Pair in Gironde, and in the grotto of Altamira at Santillana del Mar, in the north of Spain.
Still more recently an additional revelation as to the artistic skill of primeval man has been made; in a cave hitherto unexplored has been discovered actual sculpture with rounded forms, of extinct beasts.
These discoveries appeared incredible, first, because it was not considered possible that paintings of such a vastly remote antiquity could remain fresh and distinguishable, and secondly, because it was not thought that paintings and sculpture could be executed in the depths of a rayless cavern, and artificial light have left no traces in a deposit of soot on the roof.
But it must be remembered that these subterranean passages have been sealed up from time immemorial, and subjected to no invasion by man or beast, or to any change of air or temperature. And secondly, that the artists obtained light from melted fat in stone bowls on the floor, in which was a wick of pith; and such lamps would hardly discolour ceiling or walls. Of the genuineness of these paintings and sculptures there can be no question, from the fact that some are partly glazed over and some half obliterated by stalagmitic deposits.
Another discovery made in the Mas d'Azil in Arriege, is of painted pebbles and fan-shells that had served as paint-pots. [Footnote: Piette (E.), Les Galets colorres du Mas d'Azil. Paris, 1896.] The pebbles had been decorated with spots, stripes, zig-zags, crosses, and various rude figures; and these were associated with paleolithic tools. In the chalk of Champagne, where there are no cliffs, whole villages of underground habitations have been discovered, but none of these go back to the earliest age of all; they belong to various epochs; but the first to excavate them was the Neolithic man, he who raised the rude stone monuments elsewhere. He had learned to domesticate the ox and the sheep, had made of the dog the friend of man. His wife span and he delved; he dug the clay, and she formed it with her fingers into vessels, on which to this day her finger-prints may be found.
These caves are hollowed out in a thick bed of cretaceous rock. The habitations are divided into two unequal parts by a wall cut in the living chalk. To penetrate into the innermost portion of the cave, one has to descend by steps cut in the stone, and these steps bear indications of long usage. The entrance is hewn out of a massive screen of rock, left for the purpose, and on each side of the doorway the edges show the rebate which served to receive a wooden door-frame. Two small holes on the right and left were used for fixing bars across to hold the door fast. A good many of these caves are provided with a ventilating shaft, and some skilful contrivances were had recourse to for keeping out water. Inside are shelves, recesses cut in the chalk, for lamps, and to serve as cupboards. But probably these are due to later occupants. The Baron de Baye, who explored these caves, picked up worked flints, showing that their primitive occupants had been men of the prehistoric age, and other caves associated with them that were sepulchral were indisputably of the Neolithic age. [Footnote: De Baye (J.), L'Archeologie prehistorique. Paris, 1888.]
Mankind progresses not smoothly, as by a sliding carpet ascent, but by rugged steps broken by gaps. He halts long on one stage before taking the next. Often he remains stationary, unable to form resolution to step forward; sometimes even has turned round and retrograded.
The stream of civilisation flows on like a river, it is rapid in mid- current, slow at the sides, and has its backwaters. At best, civilisation advances by spirals. The native of New Guinea still employs stone tools; whilst an Englishman can get a nest of matches for twopence, an Indian laboriously kindles a fire with a couple of sticks. The prehistoric hunter of Solutre devoured the horse. In the time of Horace so did the Concanni of Spain. In the reign of Hakon, Athelstan's foster son, horseflesh formed the sacrificial meal of the Norseman. At the present day, as Mr. Lloyd George assures us, the haggard, ill-paid German mechanic breaks his long fast on black bread with rare meals of horseflesh.
At La Laugerie Basse, on the right bank of the Vezere, is a vast accumulation of fallen rocks, encumbering the ground for at least thirty-five feet in height under the overhanging cornice. The fallen matter consists of the disintegration of the projecting lip. Against the cliff, under the shelter of the rock, as already said, are cottages with lean-to roofs, internally with the back and with at least half the ceiling composed of the rock. In one of these Lartet and Christy began to sink a pit, beside the owner's bed, and the work was carried on to conclusion by the late Dr. Massenat. The well was driven down through successive stages of Man; deposits from the sous dropped and trampled into the earth floor by the children of the cottagers till the virgin soil was reached; and there, lying on his side, with his hands to his head for protection, and with a block of fallen rock crushing his thigh, lay the first prehistoric occupant of this shelter.
On the Causse de Larzac is Navacelles, in Gard; you walk over the arid plain with nothing in sight; and all at once are brought to a standstill. You find yourself at the edge of a crater 965 feet deep, the sides in most places precipitous, and the bottom is reached only by a zig-zag path. In the face of one of the cliffs is the grotto of Blandas, that has been occupied since remote ages. A methodical exploration has revealed a spearhead of silex, a bronze axe, bone bracelets, a coin of the Hundred Years' War, and lastly a little pin- cushion of cloth in the shape of a heart, ornamented with metal crosses, the relic of some refugee in the Reign of Terror, hiding to escape the guillotine.
At Conduche, where the Cele slides into the Lot, high up in the yellow and grey limestone precipice is a cave, now accessible only by a ladder. Hither ascended a cantonnier when the new road was made up the valley, and here he found chipped flints of primeval man, a polished celt, a scrap of Samian ware, and in a niche at the side sealed up with stalactite, a tiny earthenware pitcher 2-1/2 inches high, a leaden spindle-whorl, some shells, and a toy sheep-bell. Here a little shepherdess during the stormy times, when the Routiers ravaged the country, had her refuge while she watched her flock of goats, and here made her doll's house.
The stalactite cavern of Han in the Ardennes is visited yearly by crowds. You may see highly coloured illustrations of its interior illumined by Bengal lights in all the Belgian and many of the French railway stations. What is now a peepshow was in past ages a habitation and a home. In it the soil in successive layers has revealed objects belonging to successive periods in the history of mankind. Its floor has been in fact a Book of the Revelation of the Past, whose seals have been opened, and it has disclosed page by page the history of humanity, from the present, read backwards to the beginning.
At the bottom of all the deposits were discovered the remains of the very earliest inhabitants, with their hearths about which they sat in nudity and split bones to extract the marrow, trimmed flints, worked horn, necklaces of pierced wolf and bears' teeth; then potsherds formed by hand long before the invention of the wheel; higher up were the arms and utensils of the bronze age, and the weights of nets. Above these came the remains of the iron age and wheel-turned crocks. A still higher stratum surrendered a weight of a scale stamped with an effigy of the crusading king, S. Louis (1226-1270), and finally francs bearing the profile of a king, the reverse in every moral characteristic of Louis the Saint—that of Leopold of Congo notoriety.
Herodotus, speaking of the Ligurians, says that they spent the night in the open air, rarely in huts, but that they usually inhabited caverns. Every traveller who goes to the Riviera, the old Ligurian shore, knows, but knows only by a passing glance, the Etang de Berre, that inland sea, blue as a sapphire, waveless, girt about by white hills, and perhaps he wonders that Toulon should have been selected as a naval port, when there was this one, deeper, and excavated by Nature to serve as a harbour. The rocks of S. Chamas that look down on this peaceful sheet of water, rarely traversed by a sail, are riddled with caves, still inhabited, as they were when Herodotus wrote 450 years before the Christian era.
The following account of an underground town in Palestine is from the pen of Consul Wetzstein, and describes one in the Hauran. "I visited old Edrei—the subterranean labyrinthic residence of King Og—on the east side of the Zanite hills. Two sons of the sheikh of the village— one fourteen and the other sixteen years of age—accompanied me. We took with us a box of matches and two candles. After we had gone down the slope for some time, we came to a dozen rooms which, at present, are used as goat stalls and storerooms for straw. The passage became gradually smaller, until at last we were compelled to lie down flat and creep along. This extremely difficult and uncomfortable progress lasted for about eight minutes, when we were obliged to jump down a steep well, several feet in depth. Here I noticed that the younger of my two attendants had remained behind, being afraid to follow us; but probably it was more from fear of the unknown European than of the dark and winding passages before us.
"We now found ourselves in a broad street, which had dwellings on both sides, whose height and width left nothing to be desired. The temperature was mild, the air free from unpleasant odours, and I felt not the smallest difficulty in breathing. Further along there were several cross-streets, and my guide called my attention to a hole in the ceiling for air, like three others which I afterwards saw, now closed from above. Soon after we came to a market-place, where, for a long distance, on both sides of the pretty broad street, were numerous shops in the walls, exactly in the style of the shops seen in Syrian cities. After a while we turned into a side street, where a great hall, whose roof was supported by four pillars, attracted my attention. The roof, or ceiling, was formed of a single slab of jasper, perfectly smooth and of immense size, in which I was unable to perceive the slightest crack.
"The rooms, for the most part, had no supports. The doors were often made of a single square stone, and here and there I also noticed fallen columns. After we had passed several cross-alleys or streets, and before we had reached the middle of the subterranean city, my attendant's light went out. As he was lighting again by mine, it occurred to me that possibly both our lights might be extinguished, and I asked the boy if he had any matches. 'No,' he replied, 'my brother has them.' 'Could you find your way back if the lights were put out?' 'Impossible,' he replied. For a moment I began to be alarmed at this underworld, and urged an immediate return. Without much difficulty we got back to the marketplace and from hence the youngster knew the way well enough. Thus, after a sojourn of more than an hour and a half in this labyrinth, I again greeted the light of day." [Footnote: Reisebericht in Hauran, ii., pp. 47-48.]
I have quoted this somewhat lengthy account because, as we shall see in the sequel, the subterranean dwellings and above all refuges in Europe, bear to this town of King Og of Bashan a marked resemblance.
Within four hours of Paris by Chartres and Sarge is the town of Montoire with a clean inn, Le Cheval Rouge, and next station down the Loir is Troo. The Loir, male, is the river, not La Loire of the feminine gender. Le Loir is a river that rises in the north-east, traverses the fertile upland plain of Beauce, and falls into and is lost in La Loire at Angers. It is a river rarely visited by English tourists, but it does not deserve to be overlooked. It has cut for itself a furrow in the chalk tufa, and the hospitable cliffs on each side offer a home to any vagrant who cares to scratch for himself a hole in the friable face, wherein to shelter his head.
Troo bears a certain resemblance to the city of Og. Originally it was all underground, but in process of time it effervesced, bubbled out of its holes, and is now but half troglodyte. The heights that form the Northern declivity of the valley of the Loir come to an abrupt end here, and have been sawn through by a small stream creating a natural fosse, isolating the hill of Troo that is attached to the plateau only on the North. The hill rises steeply from the river to a crest occupied by a Romanesque church recently scoured to the whiteness of flour, and beside it is a mighty tumulus, planted with trees.
Formerly on this same height stood a castle, but this has been so completely broken down that nothing remains of it but a few substructures and its well.
Troo was at one time a walled town, and as it was the key to the valley of the Loir, was hotly contested between the English and French during three hundred years, and later, between Catholics and Huguenots. The place was besieged by Mercader, the captain under Richard Coeur-de Lion, who had flayed alive the slayer of his master under the walls of Caylus, although Richard had promised him immunity. Here Mercader met his death, and was buried under a mound that is still shown.
But what makes Troo especially interesting is that the whole height is like a sponge, perforated with passages giving access to halls, some of which are circular, and into store-chambers; and most of the houses are wholly or in part underground. The caves that are inhabited are staged one above another, some reached by stairs that are little better than ladders, and the subterranean passages leading from them form a labyrinth within the bowels of the hill, and run in superposed storeys. In one that I entered was an oven, with a well at its side. A little further, in a large hall, a circular hole in the floor unfenced gave access by rope or ladder to a lower range of galleries. Any one exploring by the feeble light of a single candle, without a guide, might be precipitated down this abyss without knowing that there was a gaping opening before him. A long ascending passage, with niches in the sides for lamps, leads to where the fibres of the roots of the trees on the mound above have penetrated and are hanging down. It is said that the gallery led on to the castle, but since this latter has been ruined it has been blocked. In the holes whence flints have dropped spiders harbour, that feed on ghostly moths which flit in the pitch darkness, and when caught between the fingers resolve themselves into a trace of silver dust. But on what did these spectral moths feed? A pallid boy of sixteen who guided me about the town told me that he had been born in a cave; that he slept in one every night, and worked underground all day. His large brown eyes could see objects in the dark where all was of inky blackness to me. It is astonishing with what unconcern mites of children romp and ramble through these corridors, where there is danger not only on account of pitfalls, but also of the roof falling in. Where I went, guided by a child of ten, every now and then I was warned— "Prenez garde, c'est ecroule."
The town—it was a town once, but now contains 783 inhabitants only—is partly built at the foot of the bluff, but very few houses are without excavated chambers, store-places or stables. The cafe looks ordinary enough, but enter, and you find yourself in a dungeon. There is but one street—La Grande Rue—and that has space and landscape on one side, and houses built against and into the rock on the other. A notice at the entrance to the street warns that no heavy traffic, not much above the weight of a perambulator, is permitted to pass along it, for the roadway runs over the tops of houses. A waggon might crash through into the chamber of a bedridden beldame, and a motor be precipitated downwards to salt the soup of a wife stirring it for her husband's supper. At Troo chimneys bristle everywhere, making the hill resemble a pin-cushion or a piece of larded veal. There are in the depth of the hill wells, and to these mothers fearlessly despatch their children to fill a pitcher, as often as not without a light.
Many of the cave-dwellings have but a ledge a few feet wide, and perhaps only a dozen or twenty feet long before their doors, and at the extreme edge one may see the children standing, unaffected with giddiness, like a row of swallows, contemplating the visitor. I cannot say how it may be with the lower houses, but those high up are pronouncedly odoriferous; for the inhabitants have no means of disposing of their garbage save by exposing it on their little shelves to be dried up by the sun, or washed down by the rain over the windows and doors of their neighbours beneath.
I wonder how a sanitary officer would tackle the problem of sweetening Troo. If he attempted to envelop it in a cobweb of socketed drainpipes he would get into a tangle with the chimneys; to carry them underground would not be feasible, as he would have to run them through kitchens, bedrooms and salles-a-manger. But even did he make this cobweb, he could not flush his pipes, as the water is at the bottom of the hill. The ancient Gauls and Britons had a practical and ingenious method of disposing of their refuse. They dug shafts in the chalk, shaped like bottles, and all the rubbish they desired to get rid of was consigned to these, till they were full, when they planted a tree on the top and opened another. Great numbers of these puticuli have been found in France. They have been likewise unearthed on the chalk downs of England. They were used as well for the graves of slaves. Now the good citizens of Troo cannot employ the pitfalls in their caves for this purpose, or the wells would be contaminated. As it is, those wells are supplied from the rain-water falling on the hill of Troo and filtering down, ingeniously avoiding the passages and halls. There are, however, some dripping caverns incrusted with stalagmitic deposit. But conceive of the sponge of Troo acting as a filter through two thousand years and never renovated. Not the most impressive teetotal orator would make me a water drinker were I a citizen of Troo.
At the summit of the hill is Le Puit qui parle, the Talking Well. It is 140 feet deep, and is shaped like a bottle. If any one speaks near the mouth, it soon after repeats in an extraordinary articulate manner the last two syllables uttered, a veritable "Jocosa Imago." Drop in a pin, and after eight seconds its click is heard as it touches the water. A stone produces a veritable detonation.
There is another Troglodyte town, also formerly walled, Les Roches, above Montoire. It is occupied by six hundred souls, and most of the houses are dug out of the rock. There is hardly space for the road to run between the Loir and the crags, and the church has to curl itself like a dog going to sleep to fit the area allowed it. This rock forms perpendicular bluffs of chalk tufa, and masses of fallen stone lie at their feet. Some rocks overhang, and the whole of this cliff and the fallen blocks have been drilled with openings and converted into habitations for man and for beast. Doors and windows have been cut in the stone, which has been hollowed out as maggots clear out the kernel of a nut. Rooms, kitchens, cellars, stables have been thus contrived. The chimneys run up the rocks, and through them; and on the plateau above open as wells, but are surrounded by a breastwork of bricks to protect them against the rain, which might form a rill that would decant playfully down the opening in a waterfall. In winter, when all hearths are lighted, the smoke issuing from all these little structures has the effect of a series of steaming saucepans.
A little way up the river outside the walls is the Chateau de Boydan, half scooped out of the cliff, with pretty sixteenth century mullioned and transomed windows. At right angles to the rock a wing was thrown out to contain the state apartments with their fireplaces and chimneys. But unfortunately it was tacking on of new cloth to the old garment, and the face of the rock slid down carrying with it the side walls and windows, and has left the gable containing the handsome stone chimney- pieces and the chimneys as an isolated fragment. Just beyond, excavated in the bluff, is the chapel of S. Gervais, consisting of two portions, an outer and an inner chamber. But the cliff face had been cut for the windows too thin, and the whole slid away at the same time probably as the disaster happened to the castle, and has exposed the interior of this monolithic church. There are remains of frescoes on the wall painted with considerable spirit; a king on horseback blowing a horn, and behind him a huntsman armed with a boar-spear. Benches cut in the rock surround the sanctuary. Externally a niche contains a rude image of the saint.
Still nearer to Montoire, on the left bank of the Loir is Lavardin; high up on the side of the hill, completely screened by a dense wood, is a hamlet of Troglodytes. The principal excavation served originally as a hermitage, and is called La Grotte des Vierges. There is a range of rock-dwellings in connection with it, some inhabited and some abandoned. The Grotte des Vierges is entered by steps descending into the principal chamber that is lighted by a window and is furnished with a fireplace. At one of the angles is a circular pit, six feet deep, with a groove at top for the reception of a cover. This was a silo for grain. From the first chamber entrance is obtained to a second much larger, that has in it a fireplace as well, and a staircase leading into a little oratory in which is an altar. The same staircase communicates with a lower chamber, probably intended as a cellar, for though the hermit might be frugal in meat there was no ban on the drink. The rock-dwelling nearest to the Grotte des Vierges on the left hand was of considerable proportions and pretence. It consisted of large halls, and was in several stages. The windows are broken away, the floors are gone, and it is reduced to a wreck. Below this series of cave-dwellings is the Fountain of Anduee of crystal water, supposed to be endowed with miraculous properties. The whole hill is moreover pierced with galleries and store-chambers, and served as a refuge in time of war, in which the villagers of Lavardin concealed their goods. The noble ruin of the castle shows that it was once of great majesty. It was battered down by the Huguenots, who for the purpose dragged a cannon to the top of the church tower.
Nearer to Vendome is the Chateau of Rochambeau. The present mansion that has replaced the ancient castle is a very insignificant and tasteless structure. All the interest it possesses consists in its dependencies that are rock-hewn. The bass-court is reached through a long and lofty gallery bored athwart the rock, and issuing from it we find ourselves in a sort of open well, probably originally natural but appropriated and adapted by man to his needs. This vast depression, the walls of which are seventy-five feet high, is circular, and measures eighty feet in diameter. Round it are cellars and chambers for domestic purposes. Others are accessible from the gallery that leads to the court. One of them, the Cave-Noire, possesses a chimney bored upwards through the rock to the level of the surface. Another peculiarity of this cavern is that along one side, throughout its length, 120 feet, are rings cut in the rock showing tokens of having been fretted by usage. They are at the height of four feet above the soil, and are on an average four feet ten inches apart. A second range is three feet or four feet higher up. In an adjoining cavern are similar ranges of rings. A third is cut almost at the level of the soil. Precisely the same arrangement is to be found at Varennes hard by in artificial caves still employed as stables, and some as dwellings for families.
In the park is shown the cave in which the Duke of Beaufort, the Roi des Halles, was concealed when he escaped from the prison of Vincennes. Francois de Vendome, Duke of Beaufort, was a grandson of Henri Quatre, a man of inordinate conceit and of very limited intelligence. During the regency that began in 1643, he obtained the confidence of Anne of Austria, but his vanity rendered him insupportable, and he went out of his way to insult the regent, so that she sent him to Vincennes. Voltaire passes a severe judgment on him. He says of the Duke: "He was the idol of the people, and the instrument employed by able men for stirring them up into revolt; he was the object of the raillery of the Court, and of the Fronde as well. He was always spoken of as the Roi des Halles, the Market-King." One day he asked the President Bellevue whether he did not think that he—Beaufort—would change the face of affairs if he boxed the ears of the Duke of Elbeuf. "I do not think such an act would change anything but the face of the Duke of Elbeuf," gravely replied the magistrate.
There are in the Quartier S. Lubin at Vendome chambers still occupied in the face of the cliff, high up and reached by structural galleries.
At Lisle, on the river above Vendome, are many caves, one of which was the hospital or Maladerie.
Above Tours and Marmoutier, on the road to Vouvray, is La Roche Corbon. The cliff is pierced with windows and doors, and niches for a pigeonry. This, till comparatively recently, was a truly Troglodyte village. But well-to-do inhabitants of Tours have taken a fancy to the site and have reared pretentious villas that mask the face of the cliff, and with the advent of these rich people the humble cave-dwellers have "flitted." One singular feature remains, however, unspoiled. A mass of the cretaceous tufa has slipped bodily down to the foot of the crag, against which it leans in an inclined position. This was eviscerated and converted into two cottages, but the cottagers have been ejected, and it is now a villa residence. An acquaintance at Tours has rented it for his family as a summer seat.
Some fifty or sixty years ago La Roche Corbon was "a village sculptured up the broken face of the rocks, with considerable skill, and what with creeping vines, snatches of hanging gardens, an attempt here and there at a division of tenements, by way of slight partitions cut from the surface, wreaths of blue smoke issuing out of apertures and curling up the front, and the old feudal tower, called Lanterne de la Roche Corbon, crowning the summit, the superincumbent pinnacle of excavated rock on which it stands looking as if it were ready to fall and crush the whole population beneath, this lithographed village has altogether a curiously picturesque look." But at Beaumont-la-Ronce, north of Tours, may be seen a whole street of cave habitations still occupied, wreathed with vines and traveller's joy.
In the department of Maine et Loire, and in a portion of Vienne, whole villages are underground.
There is often very valuable vineyard land that has to be walled round and every portion economised. What is done is this: the owner digs a quarry in the surface; this forms a sort of pit accessible on one side, the stone taken from this being employed to fence round his property. Then, for his own dwelling, he cuts out chambers in the rock under his vineyard, looking through windows and a door into the quarry hole. For a chimney he bores upwards, and then builds round the opening a square block of masonry, out of which the smoke escapes.
A whole village, or rather hamlet, may therefore consist of—as far as one can see—nothing but a series of chimneys standing on the ground among the vines. Those who desire to discover the inhabitants must descend into the quarries to these rabbit warrens.
In some villages the people live half above ground and half below. At St. Leger, near Loudun, is a fine mediaeval castle, with a fosse round it cut out of the rock: and this fosse is alive with people who have grubbed out houses for themselves in the rock through which the moat (which is dry) has been excavated.
A very singular settlement is that of Ezy in the valley of the Eure, at the extreme limit of the department of that name. About a kilometre from the village, along the side of the railway, are numerous subterranean habitations in three storeys, with platforms before them which are horizontal. These were the dwellings of the owners of the vines which at one time covered the hill overhead. But these vineyards failed, and the dwellings were abandoned. However, after their abandonment, it was customary at times for the villagers to resort to them for drinking and dancing bouts. This tradition continues still in force, and on Easter Tuesday these cave dwellings are visited, and there is merrymaking in them. Between the caves at one time some little taverns had been erected, but these also fell into ruin some forty or fifty years ago.
Since then a range of these caverns has become the refuge of a special population of social and moral outcasts. There they live in the utmost misery. The population consists of about eighty persons, male and female and children.
The history of the adults will hardly bear looking into. None of these people have any fixed occupation, and it is difficult to discover how they subsist. In fact, the life of every one of them is a problem. One might have supposed that they maintained a precarious existence by thieving or by begging, as they are far below the ordinary tramp; for with the exception of perhaps two or three of them, these cave-dwellers possess absolutely nothing, and know no trade whatever. They sleep on dry leaves kept together by four pieces of wood, and their sole covering consists of scraps of packing cloth. Sometimes they have not even the framework for their beds, which they manufacture for the most part out of old broken chairs discarded from the churches. A visitor says: "In one of the caverns I entered there was but one of these squalid and rude beds to accommodate five persons, of whom one was a girl of seventeen, and two were boys of fourteen and fifteen. Their kitchen battery consists exclusively of old metal cases of preserved fruit or meats that they have picked up from the ashpits. The majority, but by no means all, have got hold, somehow, of some old stoves or the scraps of a stove that they have put together as best they could. They have a well in common at the bottom of the hill, whence they draw water in such utensils as they possess, and which they let down into the water on a wooden crook. Every one has his crook as his own property, and preserves it near him in the cavern. The majority of these underground people have no clothes to speak of. Girls of fifteen and big boys go about absolutely without any linen. The rest—perhaps three or four—have only a few linen rags upon them. In the stifling atmosphere of these cave-dwellings it is by no means rare to see big children almost, if not absolutely, naked. I saw a great girl with a wild shock of uncombed hair, wearing nothing but a very scanty shift.
"These cave-dwellers live with utter improvidence, although deprived of sufficient food. Three or four couples there have some four or five children to each.
"These families have for the most part formed in the cave-dwellings. A young mother whom I saw there with four children, the only one dressed with an approach to decency, when interrogated by me told me that she had been brought there by her mother at the age of eight. That was twenty-four years ago. She was fair, with tawny hair, and of the Normandy type. She had been born in a village of the neighbourhood, and her mother took refuge in the caverns, apparently in consequence of the loss of her husband.
"I heard of an individual who had been on the parish on account of his incurable laziness, till the mayor losing all patience with him, had him transported to these cave-dwellings and left there. There he settled down, picked up a wife, and had a family.
"These people live quite outside the law, and are quit of all taxes and obligations. As to their marriages they are preceded and followed by no formalities. No attempt is made on the part of the authorities to get the children to school. One gentleman resident in the neighbourhood, a M. Frederic Passy, did take pains to ameliorate their condition. He collected the children and laboured to infuse into their hearts and heads some sort of moral principle. But his efforts were ineffectual, and left not a trace behind. They recollect him and his son well enough, but confuse the one with the other. And two of those who were under instruction for a while, when I questioned them about it, allowed that they had submitted to be bored by them for the sake of profiting by their charity.
"I interrogated an old but still robust woman, who had lived in the caverns for three years. She had been consigned to them by her own children, who had sought by this means to rid themselves of the responsibility of maintaining her.
"The elements of this population belong accordingly to all sorts. I noticed only one woman of an olive tint and with very black hair, who may have come from a distance. But I was told she was a recent accession to the colony, and I might be sure of this, as her clothing was still fairly sound and clean. As she is still young and can work, her case is curious; one wonders what can have induced her to go there.
"I saw there also a couple without children; the man had the slouch and hang-dog look of an habitual criminal.
"I may give an instance which will show the degradation to which this population has fallen. An old beggar I visited, who has lived in a cavern belonging to his brother for forty-seven years, and who has had a wife, allowed a billiard ball to be rammed into his mouth for two sous (a penny) by some young fellows who were making sport of him. He was nearly killed by it, for they had the greatest difficulty in extracting the billiard ball." [Footnote: Zaborowski, "Aux Caves d'Ezy," in Revue Monsuelle de l'ecole d'Anthropologie, Paris, 1897, i. p. 27, et seq.]
At Duclair also, on the Seine, are rock dwellings precisely like those on the Loire, and still inhabited.
Along the banks of the Loire from Tours to Saumur are numerous cave habitations still in occupation. Bell, in his "Wayside Pictures," says of those at Saumur: "Close to the town are residences, literally sculptured in the face of the naked rock. They are cut in the stone, which is the tufa, or soft gravel stone, and easily admits of any workmanship demanded by taste or necessity. There is no little care displayed in the formation of these strange habitations, some of which have scraps of gardens or miniature terraces before them; hanging from the doorways are green creeping things, with other graceful adjuncts, which help to give a touch of beauty to their aspect. In some cases, where the shelving of the rock will admit of it, there are chimneys, in nearly all windows; and it not unfrequently happens, especially higher up the road near Tours, where art has condescended to embellish the facades still more elaborately, that these house-caves present an appearance of elegance which is almost impossible to reconcile with the absolute penury of their inhabitants. The interiors, too, although generally speaking naked enough, are sometimes tolerably well furnished, having an air of comfort in them which, certainly, no one could dream of discovering in such places.
"These habitations are, of course, held only by the poor and outcast, yet, in spite of circumstances, they live merrily from hand to mouth how they can, and by means, perhaps, not always of the most legitimate description. I have a strong suspicion that the denizens of these rocks are not a whit better than they should be; that their intimate neighbourhood is not the safest promenade after dark: and that, being regarded and treated as Pariahs, they are born and baptized in the resentments which are contingent upon such a condition of existence. You might as well attempt to chase an eagle to his eyrie among the clouds, as to make your way to some of these perilous chambers, which are cut in the blank face of the rock, and can be reached only by a sinuous track which requires the fibres of a goat to clamber. There are often long lines of these sculptured houses piled in successive tiers above each other; sometimes with a view to architectural regularity, but in almost all cases they are equally hazardous to the unpractised foot of a stranger.
"Stroll down the spacious quay of Saumur in the dusk of the evening, when the flickering tapers of the temperate town are going out one by one. Roars of merriment greet you as you approach the cavernous city of the suburb. There the entertainments of the inhabitants are only about to begin. You see moving lights in the distance twinkling along the grey surface of the rock, and flitting amongst the trees that lie between its base and the margin of the river. Some bacchanalian orgie is going forward." [Footnote: Bell (R.), "Wayside Pictures," Lond. 1850, pp. 292-3.]
There was a curious statement made in a work by E. Bosc and L. Bonnemere in 1882, [Footnote: Hist. des Gaulois sous Vercingetorix. Paris, 1882.] reproduced by M. Louis Bousrez in 1894, [Footnote: Les monu- ments Megalithiques de la Touraine. Tours, 1894.] which, if true, would show that a lingering paganism is to be found among these people. It is to this effect: "What is unknown to most is that at the present day there exist adepts of the worship (of the Celts) as practised before the Roman invasion, with the sole exception of human sacrifices, which they have been forcibly obliged to renounce. They are to be found on the two banks of the Loire, on the confines of the departments of Allier and Saone-et-Loire, where they are still tolerably numerous, especially in the latter department. They are designated in the country as Les Blancs, because that in their ceremonies they cover their heads with a white hood, and their priests are vested like the Druids in a long robe of the same colour.
"They surround their proceedings with profound mystery; their gatherings take place at night in the heart of large forests, about an old oak, and as they are dispersed through the country over a great extent of land, they have to start for the assembly from different points at close of day so as to be able to reach home again before daybreak. They have four meetings in the year, but one, the most solemn, is held near the town of La Clayette under the presidence of the high priest. Those who come from the greatest distance do not reach their homes till the second night, and their absence during the intervening day alone reveals to the neighbours that they have attended an assembly of the Whites. Their priests are known, and are vulgarly designated as the bishops or archbishops of the Whites; they are actually druids and archdruids.... We have been able to verify these interesting facts brought to our notice by M. Parent, and our personal investigations into the matter enable us to affirm the exactitude of what has been advanced."
If there be any truth in this strange story, we are much more disposed to consider the Whites as relics of a Manichaean or Albigensian sect than as a survival of Druidism. More probable still is it that they are or were a political confederation. But I suspect that the account is due to a heated imagination.
At Bourre (Loir et Cher) are extensive quarries in the face of the hill. Here the chalk is hard and of beautiful texture. The stone has been derived hence for the erection of several of the castles in the Touraine, as also for buildings in the towns of Tours, Blois, Montrichard, &c. Most of the habitations of the villagers, who are nearly all quarrymen, are excavated in the rock, occupy old disused workings, or have been specially dug out to suit the convenience and dispositions of the occupants. In some of these old underground quarries, that are not open to the light of day, dances and revelries take place, when they are brilliantly illuminated. At Sainte Maure, on the road from Tours to Chatelherault, in a deep cleft of the Cande that is covered with the falun, an extensive deposit of marine and freshwater shells, marking the beach of an old estuary of the sea, is the village of Courtineau, wholly made up of Troglodyte habita- tions, and with its chapel also excavated in the rock.
At Villaines (Indre et Loire) the cliffs are pierced with caves that are inhabited by basket-makers, and the watercourses below are planted with willow, or else have cut osiers lying in them soaking to preserve their suppleness. In the caves, on the roads, in every house, one sees little else but baskets in process of making or cut osiers lying handy for use. The women split and peel the green rods, men and children with nimble fingers plait the white canes. All the basket-makers are themselves plaited into one co-operative association. From time immemorial Villaines had made baskets, the osier of the valley being of excellent quality. But the products could not be disposed of satisfactorily; they were bought by regraders, who beat down the prices of the wares, and the workmen had no means of seeking out the markets, in which to sell with full advantage to themselves. In 1845 an old cure, whose name is remembered with affection, the Abbe Chicogne, conceived the idea of creating a co-operative society; and aided by the Count de Villemois, he grouped the workers, and drew up the statutes of the Association, that remain in force to the present day. All the products are brought together into a common store, and sold for the benefit of the associates. No member is permitted to dispose of a single piece of his workmanship to a purchaser; he may not sell in gross any more than he may in detail. The cave-houses are comfortably and neatly furnished, and their appearance and that of their inhabitants proclaims well-being, content and cheerfulness.
On the Beune, a tributary of the Vezere, is the hamlet of Grioteaux, planted on a terrace in a cave, the rock overhangs the houses. Above the cluster, inaccessible without a ladder, in the face of the cliff, is a chamber hewn out of the rock, and joist holes proclaiming that at one time a wooden gallery preceded it. This cavern, that is wholly artificial, served in times of trouble as a place in which the community concealed their valuables.
The river Cele that flows into the Lot passes under noble cliffs of fawn and orange-tinted limestone, and the road here is called Le Defile des Anglais, as the whole valley during the Hundred Years' War was in the possession of the Companies that pretended to fight for the Leopards. And it was down this defile that the cutthroats rode on their plundering expeditions. In this valley is the village of Sauliac, in an amphitheatre of rocks, where road and river describe a semicircle. The cliff runs up to a height of 300 feet. Houses are perched on every available ledge, grappling the rock, where not simply consisting of faced caverns. In the midst of this cirque stands the castle, buried in stately oaks. It was not built till 1460, when the long agony of the war was over, and nothing remained of the English save their empty nests in the rock, and their hated name.
A modern chapel, very white and not congruous with its surroundings, is perched above the road on a terrace under Le Roc Perce, so named from a natural cavern, very round, drilled through it, as though wrought by a giant's boring tool.
At Cuzorn, on the line from Perigueux to Agen, are very fine rocks in a meander of the Lemance, starting out of woods, and these contain caverns that have been, and some still are, inhabited. In this region are many quarries, not open to the sky, but forming halls and galleries under the hill, and some of these have been taken possession of and turned into habitations.
At Brantome on the Dronne a good many of the houses are against the rock, the caves built up in front with the usual window and door to each. More have their workshops in grottoes, in them blacksmiths have their forges, carpenters their planing benches, tinkers, tailors, cobblers carry on their business in comparative obscurity. The superior stratum of rock is of so hard and tenacious a quality that it holds together with very few piers to support it. When a citizen wants to enlarge his premises, he merely digs deeper into the hill; he has no ground-rent to pay. Some caves open a hundred feet wide without a support.
Any one motoring or going by rail from Angouleme to Perigueux should halt half-way at La Roche Beaucourt, where the rock l'Argentine contains a nest of cave-dwellings, with silos in the floors and cupboards in the walls.
That the savage is not extinct in these out-of-the-way parts may be judged from this—that at Hautefaye near by, the peasants in 1870 laid hold of M. de Moneis, who objected to the prosecution of the war with the Prussians after Sedan, cruelly maltreated him, and threw him alive on a bonfire in which he expired among the flames.
The whole south-east angle of the Isle of Sicily is full of underground cities, of which that of the Val d'Ispica is the most famous. These excavations are vulgarly called Ddieri, but they are not in most cases tombs, but dwelling-places for the living, as is shown by the handmills for oil and corn that are found in them.
The Val d'Ispica is a narrow valley situated between Modica and Spaicaforno; and throughout its entire length of about eight miles, the rock walls are pierced on both sides with countless grottoes, all artificial, and showing the marks of tools on their walls. They are scooped in the calcareous rock. Some consist of as many as ten or twelve chambers in succession, and are seldom more than 20 feet deep by 6 feet high, and they are of the same breadth. At the bottom of the valley flows a little stream that supplied the inhabitants with water, and irrigates wild fig-trees and pink-flowered oleanders. On a higher level grow broad-leaved acanthi and wild artichokes, and thick festoons of cactus hang down from the top of the rock and shade the entrances to the grottoes. A portion of the rock wall on the right bank of the stream has fallen, and exposed to sight the internal arrangement of the dwellings. But previous to this, ascent could only have been made by ladders or by notches in the rock for the insertion of toes and fingers, as among the cliff-dwellers in Arizona. There are ranges of these habitations on several stages, and steps cut in the rock allowed communication between them; but above all is a ledge or gallery open to the sky and commanding a magnificent prospect. This could be reached only by a ladder, and probably formed the rendezvous of the women of the Troglodyte town in an evening to enjoy the cool air, and exercise their tongues. It may also have served as the last refuge of the inmates of the caverns, who, after escaping to it could withdraw the ladder.
One dwelling of three storeys, with flights of steps in good preservation, is called the Castle by the peasants. Parthey, a German traveller, who investigated these dwellings, reckoned their number to be over 1500. He saw nowhere any trace of ornament about them. Doors and windows were mere rough holes cut through the limestone. Rings hewn in the stone which are found in the chambers probably served some purpose of domestic economy. Fragments of Samian ware and carved marble have been found in them, but are probably later than the construction of these habitations. Some contain graves, and these also may be later, but actually we know from history nothing about them. Rock tombs may have been utilised as dwellings or abandoned dwellings as tombs. To the present day some of them are still occupied, mainly by shepherds and poor peasants. The range in the Crimea from Cape Kersonese to the Bay of Ratla is formed of layers of limestone alternating with clay and argilaceous schist, a disposition of the strata that tends greatly to accelerate the disintegration of the cliffs. The clay gradually washed out by springs or eaten away by the weather forms great caverns in the sides, and these are liable to fall in when deprived of support. They have, however, been utilised as habitations. The Rock of Inkermann, the ancient Celamita, runs east of the town beyond the marshy valley of the Chernaya; it has been converted into a vast quarry which menaces with destruction the old Troglodyte town that occupied the cliffs. The galleries of this underground town form a rabbit warren in which it is dangerous to penetrate without a guide or a clue. Some of the chambers are large enough to contain five hundred people.
The rocks of Djonfont-kaleharri are also honeycombed, with still inhabited caves; some are completely cavernous, but others have the openings walled up so as to form a screen. Beneath an overhanging rock is a domed church used by this Troglodyte community.