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Explore the sacred places of the Carnutes

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

The caves of the Virgins at the castle of Lavardin

Located at 45 min from Blois, the small village of Lavardin still has its perched castle. The history of this rock goes back to the Neolithic period between

5800 and 2500 years with J.C.

Recent archaeological excavations have unearthed axes,

arrows and tools from this period.

However, what interests us here,

it is another time. This site was inhabited for a long time by the Carnutes,

a people of Celtic Gaul who, by the way, gave their name to the city of Chartres.

Long before the arrival of the Romans, the Carnutes lived here in Loir-et-Cher.

They were a very important people in Gaul and we find them in many texts mentioned by the Romans, but they were not the most powerful. Their main wealth is Agriculture.

They cultivated many cereals (rye, oats, barley, soft wheat and buckwheat).

They would also have great druidic knowledge. We have found many temples and burials on their territory and here is a beautiful testimony. It would even seem that the Gallic word carnitu would be translated by those "who erect tombs".

But this remains a hypothesis since the Gallic culture was only transmitted orally and no reliable written source has reached us.

Here is the map representing their territory:

When you are on this drawbridge, observe the deep ravine with cellars and springs fed by a stream. Not far from there is the Auduée fountain.

In the past, at the time of the Carnutes, it was an important place of pilgrimage.

It had the reputation of healing the sick. The pilgrims threw a coin into it, the poorest a nail. Later, with the Christianization of the territory, this miraculous spring took the name of "Saint Eloi" and a well was built.

There are three groups of caves on this site.

Archaeologists see in these very old caves, a college of druidesses.

These Gallic priestesses lived here. They are described by Julius Caesar in The Gallic War: "with long hair on their black dresses", they worshipped the God Mercury, we can still see cavities dug in the ground as intended to collect the blood of human sacrifices.

These caves represent a sacred place of gathering for all the people of the Carnutes but also for the other Gallic tribes of Celtic origins

in order to exercise their cults.

Therefore, it is not insignificant that this site is dedicated to Mercury, one of the most powerful gods among the Celts, being the guide of the traveler, the inventor of all the arts and the god of gain and trade.

Later, these caves were used as a place of refuge during the Hundred Years War.

Some historians evoke a place of retreat and asylum for young girls, women and their children. These families came to take shelter in these secret caves during the two English sieges in 1188.

Nevertheless, it was not the English who were responsible for the ruins of the castle but King Henry IV!

Before being king of France,

he was Duke of Vendome.

Faced with the affront of his advisors refusing to convert to Protestantism, he decided to dismantle the castle of Vendôme, but also that of Montoir and Lavardin.

Now that you have some information about the Gallic period, go and explore these caves and escape!

Once this visit is done, don't leave without discovering the hidden treasures of the church of Lavardin.

Translation by DeepL



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