EMAS Members’ Favourite Archaeological Sites
Fort de Buoux, Provence, France
Submitted by David Beard
The main fortification
(click on the photos to enlarge)
The ruins of Fort de Buoux sit on the top of a high stone butte in the Luberon mountains close to Bonnieux. The fort is reach by means of a narrow, winding path that is entirely without handrails, and with an impressive drop on one side. Good shoes or boots and a head for hights are essential.
This defensive stronghold was used to protect the surrounding towns and land from Lourmarin to Silvergues from the early medieval period. Most of the visible remains date from the 13th century, but the area shows evidence of occupation during the Celto-Ligurian era (1000 BC), during the Roman period, early Christian tombs and medieval troglodyte houses. The area, however, has an even older history. On the way to the fort, one passes an abri, or prehistoric rock shelter from the Mousterian Period (Middle Palaeolithic).
The Fort itself covers quite an extensive area – it is almost 400m long and nearly 70m wide at its widest point. The last few metres of the path pass under the view from a watch tower before one turns sharp right to enter the main gate. The way continues over a ditch through a gate which opens into a large outer bailey which contains the remains of a 13th century church. At the other end of this bailey a gate leads into the outer area of the fort proper. The third and final defences lead to a large donjon at the narrow end of the butte.
Among the many feature at this site are several immense cisterns and a number of rock-cut storage pits for grain.
See also: Fort de Buoux