The barn wall is nearly finished. A couple more tweaks, a final varnish, and it will be completed. Once we have taken the scaffolding away, I’ll be able to take better photographs, so I will post those later. The weather has been fantastic, if a little too hot, especially in the afternoons. My paints kept drying up whilst I was working, so I had to became a dab hand at remixing colours, all a good exercise in colour matching ! The real garden around me flourished and flowered, during the weeks I was painting; the trees, which were bare when I started, are now bursting into leaf.
I was intrigued to be told that the property is built on land that has much evidence of having been inhabited by humans for many thousands of years. Although knowing that we live in an area of prehistoric interest, it struck home all the more when I learned that beneath the very spot I have been painting, there are subterranean caves. The owners commanded a survey by experts from Perigueux who required potholing equipment in order to investigate deep into the bedrock. They found bones from bears and bison, which dated back 30,000 years. They also found the bones of hyena, which had to date back 1 million years, when the landscape here was forest steppe and steppe tundra,, and when the land mass of Africa was joined to southern Spain.
The most exciting sights to see are photos of the steps hewn into the cave, obviously shaped by human hand, and possibly 20,000- 30,000 years ago; possibly because the steps are completely inside the difficult-to-access cave. Locally, the more recent troglodyte dwellings appear to be have evidence of timber frontages , and holes for support beams. If I wasn’t a whimp I would burrow down there myself, but there is no way I could go down an underground passage with such limited space! Here are some photograghs the owners kindly allowed me to post up on the blog; the colours are inspiringly beautiful, with those natural ochres and siennas. The rock formations are magnificent, and very humbling somehow. The bones are now housed in the museum in Perigueux. Just imagine knowing you have that evidence of ancient pre-history beneath where you live.