La Madelaine, Tursac

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Fluss, Vézère, Wiesen, Wald | © Bert Schwarz 2021

La Madeleine is a settlement site in what is now the Dordogne, used for thousands of years until the early modern period, built on a narrow bend of the Vézère. It belongs to the commune of Tursac, located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region - more precisely in the Dordogne department, the former province of Périgord.

Bäckerei in Höhle | © Bert Schwarz 2021

During the 8th century, the emergence of the troglodytic settlements of the cliffs of La Madeleine is attested. For this purpose, existing naturally formed hollows and abris were used, a good distance above the valley floor or riverbed, which were then expanded and shaped according to the needs of the future inhabitants as protection against predators or warlike incursions, e.g. the Vikings or Saracens.

Kirchengewölbe | © Bert Schwarz 2021

Between the 8th and 13th centuries, the village on the rocky slope experienced considerable development. Farmers and merchants lived here with their families. Their everyday life consisted of fishing, cattle breeding, vegetable growing, trade and construction works to maintain and expand the dwellings. The river played a not insignificant role in this. It not only brought food and water, but also provided shelter.

Burgruine, Wald | © Bert Schwarz 2021

During the 14th century, the Hundred Years' War covered Aquitaine with blood and terror. Right at the beginning, the smoldering conflict between the French and the English broke out openly again. The village of La Madeleine and the castle belonged to the family of the Sireuil family, who had to defend both against English attackers and marauding hordes several times. The defenses were strengthened. Holes in the rock walls indicate larger defenses that jutted out over the Vézère. At that time, the "main street" of the village was full of inhabitants, soldiers and large cattle.

Wald, Fluss, Vézère | © Bert Schwarz 2021

In 1400 the Beynac de Tayac family took over the castle until it burned down in 1623 and all the inhabitants left the castle and the village. Only a weaver family remained on site. From time to time shepherds or farmers took shelter here at night. The last inhabitants left La Madeleine at the beginning of the 20th century.