Refuges – Fitted out underground passages


Introduction -Lamps - Technique photo - Plaster's stone-pit - Refuges - Roucy - Paris - Tuffeau's stone-pit - Naours -Mushroom bed

- Abyss of Fage - Unusual - Biblio et contact


The fitted out underground passages offer generally (with multiple variants) the following characteristics:


*  Hidden or camouflaged entrances(entries);

*  Narrow galleries, in width and man's height, dug in the cliff, with frequent elbows with right angles, watched often by horizontal conduits (ex: holes of aim) and ending in doors, disappeared today but marked with rebates of lock, giving access to subterranean rooms

*  Subterranean rooms were fitted out for the temporary environment with footpaths(banquettes) and even the beds cut in the cliff, the alveoli for the lighting, nest, sometimes egg-shaped pits (ex: silos) and vertical conduits (ex: airholes) joining the surface. The access of these rooms is made in certain cases by very narrow, more or less long necks (1 m about) leaving hardly the passage of a man.



See Tourballière


See Pont-de-Ruan  (passionnant !!!)

With localisation and plan



It is about underground passages in the more or less geometrical forms, cut well (as far as the cliff allows it), presenting a more or less complex plan where alternate rooms and corridors. The entrance can be made by a well (or artificially by a collapse) but the almost general rule is a descent which could be sloping sweet or provided with stairs. This narrow corridor, about 0,75 m of wide, presents several successive elbows to right angle. At the beginning of the descent the roof of the gallery can be bent in dry or built stones or more simply formed by the juxtaposition of big stony paving stones (of flint, for example , in Châtelleraudais).


 The hypothesis generally supposed to interpret the fitted out underground passages is that of the defence, that is the civil defence. This hypothesis supports on the discovery of numerous tracks of organization for animals (feeding dishes, hooks) but this in the first rooms which can have been reused in recent times. One imagines easily that the inhabitants of a hamlet or a village dug such underground passages to take refuge with every raid of armed gangs bandits or Lords in perpetual fights. Such shelters are known in the plains of the North of France (notably to Naours, near Amiens) or in Turkey, where real subterranean cities are in the course of study. The entrance, which could set in a wood or in a building, masked time, the population waited in its shelter which the danger spends. (3)



*    La Tourballière (2)


La Celle-Saint-Avant, 1,600 km O.-N.-O. X = 469,900; Y = 226,700 (Sainte-Maure 7-8). J). 296, Château de la Tourballière, Ripault (André).


Under the ancient small manor house in ruins. One penetrates into this underground passage by a descent bent in full round arch, which opens under the East angle A first part of the work, almost completely sailed, contains a long cellar window, also bent, of 0,50 m x 0,50 m, going back up towards the outside, two small towers and a well with water. Beyond, a corridor cut in the cliff leads to a first fork over which part a new cellar window built by oblong section of 0,30 m X 0,60 m. On one side, one is brought to a big lengthened room ( F ), where from part a cranked corridor leading to a cat flap of 0,45 m X 0,50 puts 0,70 m of length which results in a small oval room provided with two air holes. On the other side, a part of the corridor, blocked in G, was controlled by a horizontal hole of aim stemming of one alveolus of the room F. A last room ( H ) contains one alveolus where from left maybe another conduit today damaged. This underground passage is regrettably blocked by elevations which should hide many other elements of the structure or its organization





*    PONT-DE-RUAN — Le Château Robin



Pont-de-Ruan 1,500 km O. - N.-O.  X = 465,380 ; Y = 253,220 (Langeais 3-4). A 272, Château-Robin, Guyon de Montlivault (René).


In the hillside right bank of the Indre, in some 50m of the river, at the edge of the C.D.84. It is the most ancient work described by the region and, indispensably also, the most complex with its four floors, dug largely in a bad limestone molded by kidney of flint.


Three current openings were situated at the level of the road, it of the middle ( A ) is the only one who answers a "functional" interpretation of the bottom of the work. This entrance, doubtless reshaped today, closed by a door the track of the girder of which remains in the ceiling, and gave access to a first big room B by a cat flap of 0,60 m X 0,40 m, opened to height and supplied with a hole of just aim close. The other current passages, which would not conceive together with the cat flap, should be opened afterward. This room B, of about 10 m of length and containing a pillar communicates by a shrunk passage provided with rebates with another room C, more spread still and also with pillar of retaining structure. At the bottom, a stair sinks in trench into the ground and the conduit has a narrow corridor, cranked and lowered at the beginning, then sinuous and higher (1,70 m) afterward. It is the famous difficult and flooded corridor which left me so bad recollections and which, in fact, conceals only 0,50 m of water on a length about 20 m. After a total development of around thirty metres, it succeeds has a neck of the most typical, of 0,50 m x 0,55 m of section and 0,90 m of length, which results in a big terminal room has two distant pillars, of 8,50 m x 8 m in the biggest dimensions.


However now we return has the first room B, we find a small cranked corridor has there the East which leads, after rebate, to a room E. It opens there an ascending corridor, with a stair so to speak lived it, which leads to a superior room ( F ). At the bottom of  this one, a small lowered gallery ends in a vertical neck of 0,60 m X 0,45 m which leads to the highest floor of the work.




This last one, very damaged, is reduced to an entrance cubit opened on the hillside and provided with two systems of successive, leading rebates today, on one hand in the vertical neck above, on the other hand , in a lateral entrance to a big irregular, disembowelled room and partially destroyed by enormous collapses. To note a hole of aim next to the entrance. The other portions of cavities remain visible, giving evidence of extensions of this superior level and maybe communications with the other bottoms. It exists notably under masses of fallen rocks, rests of a rather important room.



It is not possible to dissociate this work of the "Mound" situated just above on the edge of the table-land, the clod of defence surrounded with two wide and deep ditches and with a vallum half-circular enormous covering the fortification side table, while it overhangs the abrupt hillside  towards the Indre and orders all the valley. It adorned very likely that the communication was assured, between the clod and the tops of the underground passage, by a device of escalation hidden in branches along the hillside, where see each other superimposed holes probably having answered this end.


 In summary, subterranean which although amputated in its tops and enough bank up in the bottom, takes on for the region an exceptional interest by the complexity of its vertical structure and by its association in a remarkable feudal site of defence.




Introduction -Lamps - Technique photo - Plaster's stone-pit - Refuges - Roucy - Paris - Tuffeau's stone-pit - Naours -Mushroom bed

- Abyss of Fage - Unusual - Biblio et contact