The site of
Cours de Pile has been inhabited since prehistoric times and
flint tools have been uncovered in several places. Shards of
axe-heads found at Castanet - some of which are estimated to
be 300 000 years old and other, more recent ones, 7000 years
old - are now in the National Museum of Prehistory at Les
It is not until 1365 that the commune, which was at the time
still a parish, entered historical records with a written
reference to Cors and Pilas. The names indicate the existence
of two separate places which were doubtless separate parishes
united only after the year 1000. ‘Cors’ comes from ‘Cohors’
meaning in Latin a farm courtyard or, more generally, simply a
farm. ‘Pilae’ became ‘Pilas’ and then ‘Piles’. In Gallo-Roman
times a villa is likely to have been at the origin of a
possible parish when Christianity reached the area.
The name ‘Piles’ comes from the great burial towers
constructed by rich Gallo-Romans in the family graveyard -
high, square and compact, the towers stood on a base and
finished in a mini-pyramid. These ‘piles’ were responsible for
both the place name and the name of the château which was
built on the site in the 14th century.
Just opposite the château, the Dordogne riverbed was littered
with so many rocks that when the waters were high enough to be
navigable the rocks caused the river to become a waterfall
known as the Peyrat Falls. (Upstream from Pile another fall is
called La Gratusse).
In 1804, the sub-prefect of Bergerac, Monsieur Prunis, managed
to convince the Dordogne General Council to vote in the
funding needed to remove this obstruction to navigation.
The rocks, however, had given rise to a lovely legend :
of the Château
The first Seigneur de Piles wanted a bridge built across the
river opposite his château but the job was considered so
difficult that he made a pact with the devil : if the devil
could build him a bridge in one night, to be completed before
the cock crowed, then the seigneur would give him the hand in
marriage of his beautiful, rich daughter, his sole heiress. No
sooner was the pact concluded than the devil and his
devil-helpers set to work collecting rocks from the hillsides of
Creysse and Mouleydier.
Alas ! The time of year best suited to the job when the water
was at its lowest - that is the month of June - is also the
moment when nights are at their shortest and the crow of the
cock greeting the rising sun was heard before the bridge was
finished. The devil and his helpers tore down the unfinished
construction in fury, hurling the rocks into the river and so it
was that from this time on the riverbed was covered in rocks.
In the 16th
century the history of Cours de Piles became entwined with that
of the Huguenot Captain, Armand de Clermont de Pile, whose
ancestors had bought the château in 1460. Many local people
followed the example of their seigneur and converted to
Protestantism. However, under pressure from the Duke of la
Force, enforcing in the area Louis XIV’s policy of eradicating
Protestantism, 250 inhabitants of the parish were taken to the
château and, before the lawyer, forced to reconvert to
Catholicism in exchange for a ten-year exoneration of tithes.
The church which still stands, was built by the Hospitalers of
the Order of St John who had a base at St Nexans in the late
14th, early 15th century. The church acquired its Neo-Gothic
appearance in 1869. The Knights of St John decimated the parish
by taking for themselves ¾ of all due tithes, leaving the
village priest only barely sufficient means to scrape together a
Right up until the Revolution in 1789 this remained an endless
subject of dispute between successive priests and landowners.
It is moving to
see, following the Revolution, the newly-instigated civil
register held by the few of our peasant and artisan forebears
who could write, more often than not phonetically.
The Restoration saw a member of the Bergerac bourgeoisie,
Buisson de Sainte Croix, installed as the head of the commune,
followed by a sixty-year reign at the Town Hall of Messieurs
Pigeard, father and son.
At the end of the 19th century the church was rebuilt, a spire
added, a new school constructed, the graveyard transferred to
outside the village and the railway arrived.
The 20th century saw the arrival of electricity in 1936 while
the big worry of the local government of the time was road
maintenance although by the end of the century all roads were
Today Cours de Pile has all the facilities required by a commune
in full expansion.
Jean-René BOUSQUET (05/02/1931 - 04/03/2012) Writer of
2003 : Cours de Pile, côté cours ... côté pile - Chroniques
cours de piloises - L'église et le temple.
2005 : Côté cours ... côté pile- Chroniques cours de piloises -
Aux défenseurs de la patrie.
2008 : Côté cours ... côté piles- Chroniques cours de piloises -
Le château et la seigneurie de PILES.
2010 : Chroniques cours de piloises - La Gloire de nos