Chateau des Anglais, the troglodyte fortress of Autoire

The Chateau des Anglais or Chateau Fort La Roque d’Autoire is a troglodyte fortress built on the cliff side, above the village of Autoire.

Chateau des Anglais, also known as Chateau Fort de La Roque d'Autoire
Chateau des Anglais, also known as Chateau Fort de La Roque d’Autoire

A rampart encompassed the fort and its outbuildings, watchtowers and dwellings.

This fortified compound spread over 200m long and 30m-40m wide and on 3 terraces.

The castle building is 28m long, but only a few meters wide as it was built straight into the cliff wall, making use of the natural cavities; only foundations are left of its defence towers and watchtowers.

The Chateau des Anglais was enlarged and remodelled over 300 years; it was in use until the 17th century, but was then deserted and left to fall into ruins.

A fortress that commanded the border of two counties

The fort was built as a surveillance post in the early 13th century.

Entrance to the Chateau des Anglais, also known as Chateau Fort de La Roque d'Autoire
Medieval entrance to the fortress

In the late 12th century, the viscounts of Turenne indeed acquired the seigniory of Autoire which was at the border of their county of Auvergne and the county of Toulouse.

However, this once impressive fortress began as a fortified rock shelter known as rocca (rock-roque) hence its official name La Roque d’Autoire.

This first fortress corresponds to the central section of the castle; holes where the joists anchored in the rock face show that this original building had two floors and a ground floor.

It was enlarged on the northern side a few decades later.

This extension also had 2 floors and a ground floor. However, it was far more comfortable as it had fireplaces and latrines, which suggests that it served as a dwelling.

A fortress in use during the medieval conflicts

The English occupied the fort during the Hundred Years War, hence the origin of its common name.

Chateau des Anglais - Chateau Fort de La Roque d'Autoire - Narrow rooms as the castle was built against the cliif face
Narrow rooms as the castle was built against the cliff face

Once the conflict ended, the lord of Autoire built the (now ruined) stair tower, enlarged the castle on its south side and added the machicolations.

This stair tower served the three floors of this new section.

The Protestants seized the fortress during the Wars of Religion of the 16th century and reinforced it.

The Chateau des Anglais served once last time a century later, when Viscount of Turenne, one of the leaders of the Fronde, restored its defences.

The conflict over, he deserted the old fort; the villagers dismantled it stone by stone to build their houses.

What was left of the fort slowly fell into oblivion, left exposed to the weather and overgrown with brambles.

The Chateau des Anglais was fortunately classified historical monument in 1925; the last restoration phase dates from 2013.

Department of Lot – Autoire
Coordinates: Lat 44.851272 – Long 38691.81

Discover the Chateau de Limargue in Autoire, a picturesque village ranked among the most beautiful villages in France and a stone’s throw from the Gouffre de Padirac.

Credits photos Flickr album© Lot-46

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