Grotte Rochefort

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Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site
47.99, -0.4

The cave at Rochefort or cave Rochefort is a prehistoric site belonging to the group of caves of Saulges. It is located in the town of Saint-Pierre-sur-Erve in Mayenne. It has delivered remains from different periods but is best known for the presence of Solutrean (Upper Palaeolithic).

The Solutrean seems to be the material culture best represented in the Paleolithic layers of the cellar in Rochefort. Admittedly, several elements indicate sporadic frequentations after 20,000 years, such as the clues of the final Magdalenian. But the cavity does not seem to conceal the stratigraphic richness of the cave to the Goat and it is therefore above all to collect data on this period so characteristic of the Upper Paleolithic that is the Solutrean that research continues today.

With the habitats of the Erve valley, we are dealing with the westernmost and practically northernmost occupations of this culture, more represented in the south of the France. We were then, 20,000 years ago, at the height of the cold, in full glaciation. Northern Europe has a periglacial climate and humans hardly frequent these northern regions. The Solutrean present in the cellar at Rochefort, like the furniture elements collected formerly in some other cavities of the Erve valley (including the porch of the Dérouine), show that the prehistoric groups of these ice ages nevertheless stayed, if not inhabited, in the region.

The first levels being excavated indicate that humans practiced flint cutting or butchery activities. Is the observation related to the paleoclimatic conditions that could prevail then, preventing or at least reducing the possibilities of outdoor activities? Flakes of flint (but also other cut rocks such as lustrous sandstone), fragmented squarts and bone pieces or with incisions related to cutting, burnt bones but also stone tools and movable art objects are all elements to date collected in the cellar in Rochefort. The prospect of obtaining information on this material culture, of establishing an unprecedented faunal corpus for the Late Pleistocene of western France, as well as of constructing a reliable chronostratigraphic sequence of the Upper Paleolithic of this region, can therefore only encourage future research.