Abri Cap Blanc, World Heritage Site and Historical Monument

Abri Cap Blanc is located 6km northwest of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in the Vézère Valley.

Abri Cap Blanc
Abri Cap Blanc

You’ll find it along the D48, near the Château of Laussel and Château de Commarque, in the municipality of Marquay.

Abri Cap Blanc is one of the greatest masterpieces of monumental sculpture of the Magdalenian Epoch.

It is also the only prehistoric sculpture in the world open to the public in situ (guided tours only).

Abri Cap Blanc was listed Historical Monument in 1910, and is one of the 15 local caves UNESCO listed as World Heritage Site in 1979 under the label Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley.

It has been State property since 2006.

A splendid illustration of monumental sculpture

A 13m long low-relief frieze, which depicts 10 life-size horses, indeed adorn the wall of the 16m long rock shelter.

One of these horses is a staggering 2,20m long!

The horse is the most depicted animal in Magdalenian culture.

It is often represented among other animals such as bison and reindeer.

Traces of red pigments show that these sculptures were initially painted.

The sculptures date from around 15,000BP.

La Dame de Cap Blanc – The Magdalenian Girl

Dr. Gaston Lalanne discovered the Abri Cap Blanc in 1909.

He unearthed numerous stone, bone and antler tools and harpoons, as well as the large stones used to produce the sculpted frieze.

In 1911, he also unearthed an almost complete human skeleton buried in front of the frieze.

Magdalenian Girl in Abri Cap Blanc
Magdalenian Girl

The discovery occurred during the erection of a wall dedicated to encase the sculpture!

Dr. Louis Capitan and Denis Peyrony excavated the human remains.

The skeleton was found 3m away from the frieze and 60 centimeters below the hooves of the central horse.

This would imply that the person buried there had a tight link to the frieze.

May be the sculptor?

The skeleton was initially mistaken for being that of a young male adult; however, it turned out that they were the remains of a 20-year-old and 156cm tall woman.

The Lady of Cap Blanc was buried among stones in a 50cm deep by 1,60m long cavity.

A big stone was placed on her head and two others at her feet.

She was lying on her left side, her arms and legs flexed.

The Field Museum of Chicago acquired the Lady of Cap Blanc in 1926 and renamed her the Magdalenian Girl.

A replica of her skeleton was placed in the Abri Cap Blanc Shelter in 2001.

A small museum in situ exhibits Cro Magnon Men‘s everyday life and culture.

Department of Dordogne – Marquay
Coordinates: Lat 44.945692 – Long 1.097259

Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Magdalenian Girl

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