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Cours de Pile Town Hall


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 Eyzies .
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 :


The 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 living.
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 tarmac.
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 Maires.