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Montcaret is in the Perigord Purple region of south-west Dordogne, about 40 km west of Bergerac.
The main attraction at Montcaret is the remains of a Roman villa, discovered by workmen in the 19th century.
Although little remains of the villa itself, there are substantial mosaics dating from the 1st century AD - from the original baths of the villa - that have now been uncovered and restored.
Subsequent excavations have revealed the shape of the overall villa, seen in the remnants of wall, and a large number of further mosaics, some patterned and some with pictures carefully designed in the tiles.
There is also a small museum containing artefacts discovered during the archaeological excavations.
The Roman Villa of Montcaret
The roman villa at Montcaret was built in the 1st century AD and inhabited until the 5th century. Over time the villa fell into ruin and these stones were used to build the church on the site.
When you visit you can get a feel for the enormous size of the villa. The main excavations are of the main reception room where only a tiny part of the orignal mosaic floor exists. But a tour of the villa originally leads you over the road and behind the church and all this area, including the church was once part of the villa.
Behind the church one of the most intact mosaics can be found. This is the floor of the cold bath and is a mosaic of 16 panels decorated with dolphins, fish and other marine life. This structure is covered to protect it from rain etc. Near to this is another mosaic with a fish scale pattern. This along with several others is covered in the winter to protect it.
Around the other side of the church is another mosaic with a pattern of flowers and Solomon's knots.
Back over the road to the main part of the excavations and the walls that have been excavated give an indication of the layout of the reception areas of the villa. Some parts of the underfloor heating system can also be seen.
The largest area of mosaics is in the cruciform room which was probably the dining room. This part is now entirely inside. Protected by a building which has been built to protect the mosaics and provide a display area for some of the finds from the dig. The mosaic inside this building is large and in incredibly good condition and allows you to get an idea of how the floors must have looked when the villa was lived in.
The church of Montcaret
The 11th century church was built by Benedictine monks using stone from the Roman villa. Inside the church are some attractive capitals including one showing Daniel and the lions. On the outside wall of the church is a carving of Adam and Eve.
In the grounds of the church amongst the excavations of the gallo- romain villa there are several sarcophagus.
Also to visit near Montcaret
The village at Lamothe-Montravel, on the banks of the Dordogne River is picturesque.
Photos of Montcaret
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