Gisement préhistorique du Martinet

SauveTerre Musée de Préhistoire

Useful Information

Location: 51 Rue du Vieux Bourg 47500 Sauveterre-la-Lémance
(44.5904232, 1.0137357)
Open: Spring School Holidays Mon-Fri 14-17.
JUL to mid JUL Mon-Fri, Sun 13:30-18.
Mid-JUL to mid-AUG Mon-Fri 10:30-12:30, 13:30-18, Sun 13:30-18.
Mid-AUG to AUG Mon-Fri, Sun 13:30-18.
Autumn School Holidays Mon-Fri 14-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (6-12) EUR 4, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 4, Disabled EUR 4.
Groups (15+): Museum EUR 90, Museum and Martinet EUR 120, Disabled EUR 60.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ArchaeologyAbri ArchaeologyCaves as Typesites
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: SauveTerre Musée de Préhistoire, 51 Rue du Vieux Bourg 47500 Sauveterre-la-Lémance, Tel: +61-5-53-40-73-03.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1922-1935 Martinet site excavated by Laurent Coulonges.
20-FEB-1932 declared a Historic Monument.
1960s first exhibition in the ground floor of the communal hall by Laurent Coulonges.
1994 SauveTerre Museum of Prehistory created by the municipality of Sauveterre-la-Lémance, with the scientific and logistical support of the National Museum of Prehistory.
2008 museum taken over by the Community of Communes and extended.
12-OCT-2011 current museum inaugurated.


The Gisement préhistorique du Martinet (Le Martinet prehistoric site) is a Historic Monument since 1932. This site, located close to the small village Sauveterre-la-Lémance became the type locale (locus typicus) for the Sauveterrian, an archaeological culture of the European Mesolithic which flourished around 8500 to 6500 BP. The Sauveterrian culture extended through large parts of western and central Europe. Characteristic artefacts include geometric microliths and backed points on micro-blades. Woodworking tools are notably missing from Sauveterrian assemblages but there is evidence for ritual burial.

There are actually two sites we list here. The actual abri, where the archaeological excavations were made, which is pretty unspectacular. It is not interesting at all, and as an archaeological site it should be protected, so its okay if it is not advertised for the average tourist. If you nevertheless want to have a closer look, follow D710 from Sauveterre-la-Lémance toward Périgeux, from the bridge its about 900 m. There is a small parking lot on the right side of the road and a footbridfge across the river, follow this trail for 50 m then its on the left. If you are disappointed now, we strongly recommend the second option, which is actually quite spectacular.

The village Sauveterre-la-Lémance is quite fond of its prominent location in the history of humankind, and so they created a very educative museum about this topic. It is named SauveTerre Musée de Préhistoire (SauveTerre Museum of Prehistory) and is located on the main road of the village, right beneath the church, and easy to find. It's the place where you should go to find out more about the Sauveterrian.

SauveTerre Museum of Prehistory has collections from the Martinet site, from excavations in the Lémance valley and the collections of Laurent Coulonges. He was a notary born in Fumel and devoted part of his life to archaeological research in the Lémance valley. He excavated the Martinet site from 1922 to 1935 and discovered in 1923 a microlithic industry. It was a formerly unknown intermediate culture at the border between Paleolithic and Neolithic (9,500-7,000 BP), so he named it Sauveterrien. He was quite an emblematic figure and was elected mayor of Sauveterre-la-Lémance from 1935 to 1944. After World War II, he widened his research to the whole Lémance valley. He excavated the caves Roc de Laborie and La Borie del Rey but also open air sites like Las Pélénos and La Pronquière.

Laurent Coulonges actually started the museum in the 1960s when he reused the former classroom in the ground floor of the communal hall for his own exhibition. After his death it was almost forgotten, but in 1972 there was a sort of revival, systematic prospecting, inventory and monitoring of archaeological sites in the area brought new results. The municipality of Sauveterre-la-Lémance finally installed a new museum on the ground floor of the town hall, dedicated to the Sauveterrien, in 1994. They had the scientific and logistical support of the National Museum of Prehistory. The exhibition was passed to the Community of Communes in 2008 and extended to include other sites of the area, and to make the exhibition more interesting for tourists and to educated children. The new museum was inaugurated on October 12, 2011, in the next door communal hall, where Laurent Coulonges installed his first exhibition. But now the museum uses the whole building.