The site is formed by the Gardonette (a tributary of the
Dordogne) river bed.
Etymologically it is clear that the term ‘font’ comes from
spring or source (fontaine), but it is harder to establish the
origins of the second half of the word although it would seem
likely that there might have been eels (anguilles) in the water.
Another hypothesis works around the idea around the idea of an
angle, a corner (Fontanglière), a branching off (where ?).
The site owes its
celebrity to the burial grotto of the same name in which were
discovered Neolithic skeletons. These and other objects of the
era, and even possibly some dating from a still earlier period
(flint weapons), are now scattered left and right in various
museums following the pillaging of the grottoes and the
insufficient administrative precautions of the early and
The remains of a standing stone near the caves, on the banks of
a stream called la Caborne suffered a similar fate.
Up until the 1980’s the caves were the site of a large festival
every 15 August. Young people from miles around took this
opportunity to explore the caves and scare themselves with the
bats and the dark. The first 300m of the caves are easily
accessible, the following 200 can be crawled through and the
remaining kilometre heading towards Bridoire remains the
preserve of true pot-holers.
Well-known in the area, the Rouffignac caves, or the
Fontanguillière caves as they are referred to, are dotted with
small cascades of water-furrowed prismatic pendants. A 20m
waterfall can be seen about 200m from the road in the rocky
cliffs which line the valley.