The Engravings of Gouy: France's
Northernmost Decorated Cave
For almost half a century the cave of Gouy, discovered in 1956, was the northernmost Palaeolithic decorated cave known in western Europe. Because of its originality and its geographical location, it overturned our knowledge, as has, today, in its turn, the magnificent discovery of the first British parietal Palaeolithic art which has at last been revealed in Church Hole, at Creswell Crags, in Nottinghamshire (Bahn et al. 2003).
This revelation extends the distribution of Palaeolithic parietal art further to the north and the west. Following this major event, the possibilities of similar explorations have been reinforced. Even more than before, other discoveries can today be foreseen, not only in the neighbouring regions but very probably also some day soon in Belgium and Germany.
Before the authenticity of its decoration was accepted unanimously, Gouy, like Church Hole, was not exempt from scepticism. This attitude inevitably accompanies discoveries which call into question our knowledge in all fields of research. However, doubt is necessary and, in some ways, it is obviously very useful. In particular, it incites one to gather together all the elements that
I am infinitely grateful to Dr Paul G. Bahn for his remarkable translation, certainly enhanced
by his knowledge of Gouy, as well as by the memory of our fruitful exchanges of views in situ, in
the period when I still had access to this fascinating cave for my studies.