Major prehistoric site in Charente Maritime
This area is known for its historical route with the castle but also protohistoric, with an ancient enclosure, mounds or small tombs from the Iron Age, as well as a Merovingian cemetery from the early Middle Ages.
Two other sepulchral caves have yielded human bones dating from the Neolithic period. La Roche-Courbon is a major site of Saintonge prehistory whose caves have revealed, on small limestone blocks, the only engravings unearthed in Charente-Maritime.
In 1939 Marcel Clouet excavated the so-called “castle” cave, located in the rock slab under the castle and discovered another prehistoric cave attributed to the Mousterian and Aurignacian periods. In 1949 Paul Chénereau, owner at the time, asked Marcel Clouet and Pierre Geay to organize a prehistory museum in the castle keep. In 1956 and 1957 Pierre Geay, Robert Colle and Camille Gabet discovered a burial in the Bouil-Bleu cave which they attributed to the Aurignacian until 1995, when the owner Jacques Badois decided to carry out carbon 14 radiometry which gave a result of 1870 years. We are therefore in the presence of a Gallo-Roman skeleton.
These figures represent the theoretical niches of these periods, the caves having not experienced continuous occupation. The results of the excavations can be seen in the prehistory museum. The first excavations were carried out in 1880 by Eugène Lemarié and Félix Bossé, teachers in Saint-Porchaire.
In 1924 Marcel Clouet, a Saintais teacher, discovered three engraved limestone plaques: two decorated with a mammoth and another with a horse's head in the shape of a duck's bill.
These plates are attributed to the Aurignacian, or even the Gravettian, placing an age range between – 30,000 to – 19,000 years.
In 2005 Yves Olivet and Thierry Le Roux discovered a new plaque engraved in the Triangle cave.
This limestone block is engraved with an equine head topped with triangles.
In 2008 the idea of restructuring the museum by Yves Olivet and Thierry Le Roux saw the light of day. The work will be completed in 2012 thanks to a team of volunteers and the association of friends: AMICOUR
In 2016 Yves Olivet set up the "Prehistory" course with the help of volunteers and owners. He unfortunately died a few days before its inauguration.
Located in the porch tower on 2 levels, it was fitted out in the 20th century by the owner of the residence Paul Chénereau. The first floor “Henry de Lestrange room” offers you an introduction to prehistory over 2 million years, from Homo habilis to the Bronze Age. A 20-minute film allows you to discover the prehistoric site of Roche Courbon, through the testimony of Yves Olivet, former curator of the Prehistory Museum. The second level, “Paul Chénereau / Jacques Badois room” is dedicated to the prehistory of Charente-Maritime, the commune of Saint-Porchaire and the caves of the estate.