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QR Vic-le-Comte – Enval 2

A troglodyte village

An original heritage

The cave dwellings in and around Limagne are many, including La Roche-Blanche, Veyre-Monton, Perrier and Saint-Pierre-Colamine. Most are located in hillsides or cliffs and hewn in volcanic tuff deposits, a soft rock that is easy to work with a pick.
The caves at Enval are a little different. The hamlet is located on the steep slope of a valley formed by a succession of layers of arkose. This detrital rock is quite a fine-grained sandstone containing a lot of feldspar. Banks of good quality arkose were used as ashlar.
It was from this rock that the caves of the troglodyte village of Enval were hewn. Most of the caves were enclosed by stone façades but some of these have disappeared due to erosion or neglect.
Image captions
The village of Enval in the early 20th century


Like other cave dwelling locations in the Limagne region, the Enval « caves » must have served a variety of functions. We have found evidence of habitation and the seeking of comfort by way of fireplaces, cupboards and stone façades with ashlar-framed bays and doors. Other, smaller buildings were used as barns. Some were used for animals while others housed cellars and vats. There is also evidence of dovecotes at several regional cave dwelling sites, with putlock holes dug into the rock face.

A difficult date

There are scant archival sources when it comes to these cave dwellings and that, plus their atypical nature, makes dating them very difficult. A drawing in the Armorial d’Auvergne attests to the existence of cave dwellings in Veyre-Monton around 1450. But there is nothing to indicate that the Enval cave dwellings are as old. However, the cadastral map of the commune from 1830 attests to their presence, while old postcards indicate that they were still occupied until just before the First World War.

Image captions

  • Cadastral map of 1830. Cave dwellings are indicated by the dotted lines. They are preceded by stone outbuildings and are listed on the cadastral map. You will note that the barn in which the prehistoric remains of the Durif shelter were discovered was not yet been built at this time (plot 1053).

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