QR Veyre-Monton – Bourg 12
The Monton cliff, a volcanic origin
The puy de Monton is made of a material that is foreign to the Limagne region. It is actually debris flows created by the destruction of part of the Monts Dore massif (in the area near to Lac de Guéry, 25 km away) during a series of sudden eruptions around two million years ago.
It flowed through and filled a valley before being brought into relief by differential erosion, then segmented into outlying hillocks, including Monton.
The cliff face shows a material devoid of any natural joints, with very hard boulders (basalt and trachyte) of up to several squared metres in size and randomly distributed.
The boulders are encased in consolidated mud, more or less rich in debris of varying size, a natural concrete known as « tuff » with low cohesion, which can be pierced with a pick. As a result, the walls and ceilings of the caves are highly irregular.
A village carved out of tuff
Around sixty caves have been dug into the cliffs overlooking the village of Monton. Staggered over several levels, they often feature masonry façades, which close them off and sometimes act as retaining walls for the paths that serve each level.
The Armorial de Revel shows that there were caves inside the fortifications prior to 1450. Perhaps they were dug out during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)? Some were still occupied at the beginning of the 20th century, according to postcards from that period.
At the foot of the cliff, the depth of some caves exceeds 13 metres. The dwellings were arranged around a main room with annex rooms, either adjoining or laterally located. They had fireplaces, and the niches and grooves cut into the tuff rock, used as cupboards or shelf supports, are still there. Other cavities were used for agricultural and craft activities.
A fragile and protected site
The Monton caves are considered to be a natural, cultural site whose preservation is in the public interest; they are part of the listed site of the Battle of Gergovia, the Arvernian oppida of Corent, Gergovia and Gondole and Caesar’s camps.
The work carried out by the town council since 2009 has helped to preserve the site and make it safer by consolidating the walls and façades.