La Grotte de Treille, on Lou Cayla, Mailhac   3 comments

The cave is half-way up the eastern slope of a small pass that cuts through a low range of hills between Mailhac and Aigne to the north.


Local people have no idea what or where La Treille is – but it is referred to thus in historical documents. It is considered significant enough to have become the Property of the State, and thus in need of a lockable gate – which fortunately swung open for me.


It’s dry and spacious at 15 metres long and 3 wide, and 3 high. It looks down on the narrow road some 10 metres below – but much more important was the stream that flowed abundantly from two springs. One to the north supplies the village of Pouzols – the other to the south feeds Mailhac. Both have been contained and controlled in concrete cisterns and channels.

Such an unfailing supply of water, in a frequently arid landscape, brought humans and animals and permitted the earliest settlement of the area and allowed it to develope into the hillfort settlement on top of Lou Cayla, and later the habitat in the valley below.

The cave contains no evidence that it was inhabited, but rather it played another role in the cycle of life and death in the Chalcolithic period – as an intermediary stage in the funerary rites before final inhumation in a dolmen. Water, grotto and dolmen – all must be a short walk from eachother. The dolmen of Boun Marcou lies at the eastern end of Lou Cayla hill.

Excavations in 1959 by Henri MartÍn  , Jean Taffanel and Jean Ambert revealed three distinct layers containing various bronze items (including a child’s bracelet) and a wide variety of ceramic fragments from the Pyrennees, the Iberian peninsular, the Bordeaux region and both pottery, alabaster and glass paste from N. Italy. The ceramic styles of the Campaniforme or Bell Beaker culture were the earliest people to use the cave as an ossuary.

Posted November 17, 2008 by MH

3 responses to “La Grotte de Treille, on Lou Cayla, Mailhac

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  1. Thanks for this great site!

    I’m having a bit of difficulty figuring out where the cave is exactly. You say it is on the eastern slope. Is it above the “main” road that goes up to La Prade – or the smaller road that goes past the Four aux Chaux and the Pinede des Roumanisses? Where is it in relation to the Oppidum and the dolmen?

    • Hello Jeff
      ‘Open museum developer, low profit entrepreneur, bumper sticker haiku artist.’ That’s not a bad start. But if you died tomorrow it would be an expensive tombstone.
      Your stuff looks good :

      Keep up the good work and don’t be evil.

      I found the cave long before I bought a GPS – so my best GoogleEarthReVisited guess is this: 43° 18.476 2° 49.189

      Keen to know your interest in this particular place. Keep in touch. Richard

  2. OK, I see where it is now. Thanks! A visit will have to wait until next year. We are back (shivering!) in Vermont at least until Christmas…

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