Cabins or 'Bories' ?


BORIE – the term 'borie' comes from the language of the region of Provence , designed as a drystone cabin, it serves as a barn, a stable or a seasonal home for an agriculture of the 19th century, in a forested area outside the commune and far from his farm.

CABIN – even if the term 'borie' is often traditionally used in touristic language, in the Perigord the tendency is to systematically substitute the word 'cabane'. This is derived from the borrowed term 'Chabane' itself coming from a traditional, generic word 'chabana' or 'chebana' in the Dordogne. As a point of information, one can also see the term 'cajolle' used in the Perigord to describe a drystone cabin.

In brief - dry stone cabins are constructed without mortar and the relationship between the cabin and the earth itself is large. In the Jurassic limestone areas the hard but fractured rock, with free flowing water creating fissures enabled the use of the stone for roof tiles 'lauzes'. Although difficult to work, the stone was also used to construct walls with a North/South or East/West orientation, niches often being created in the walls. The constructed cabins mostly date for the 19th century. In their construction, the cabins were often covered by a conical roof, sometimes with two slopes in a corbelled construction with a stone or less durable wooden lintel. Two vaults were superimposed with the stone for each arranged as an internal vault on the corbels created by the preceding row. In that way, the vault continued until it was complete. A second vault protected it, also entirely of stone carefully chosen for their apparent absence of cracks, placed in a hanging slope towards the exterior, which enabled rain to run off. The roof was completed by a large circular or square stone tile. Usually north facing, the degradation of this external face by frost, accelerated the gradual disappearance of the cabins.

These dry stone cabins served as temporary shelters for seasonal workers in the 17th – 18th century, to house their animals, tools or harvest in a parcel of land far from their principal residences. One may see on certain larger cabins that they had an opening to allow smoke from the fire to be evacuated and to let in light. These openings may also correspond with an intermediate interior wooden floor as the post holes in the interior may suggest.

In the commune of Tourtoirac, In Broussilles between the Cross of St. Trie and hamlet of La Rougerie, and also in other areas of the limestone plateau, one can find several groups cabins constructed in dry stone, which supports the evidence of the temporary residences of agricultural workers or peasants themselves. Presence of water nearby also governed the location of these cabins.

One needs to leave the roads and byways, even the paths, to be able to see the bories of Tourtoirac. In some cases they a very difficult to find, but should not be entered. The piles of stone they are constructed from are very old and the years have made them fragile and dangerous.

It is necessary to go away from roads and often even from paths to observe the bories of Tourtoirac.
In here are some, not too difficult to find. But do not penetrate there.
The pile of stones which constitutes them is sometimes very old and years will have weakened them.

A 'different' drystone cabin at Portail

An original construction in comparison with others seen, the lintel and door are in wood, the door jams cut in stone at the entrance are probably from a previous use.

Borie de Ringou

A dry stone cabin, once habitable standing 3.5 metres high by 2.5 metres wide, it has a doorway 1.7 metres high with an opening in the roof probably showing the entrance of light from an upper level, an interior floor of stamped earth, benches of wood and stone and a space for a campfire. Just to the side one can find another cabin of equal dimensions but now collapsed. As they are situated in the woods, it is necessary to leave the pathway to find them.

In Portail, one can see this Borie perfectly restored with the help of 'La Fondation de Patrimoine'. Located on private property it is not open for visits, nevertheless one can see it from outside the property boundary.

A Cabin on the path of Grand-Coderc.

Near the cabin (which is for the most part repaired) are many vestiges of either round or quadrilateral cabins, some in good condition, others very large (like a small house) on either side of the roadway. On one side there is a deep depression with evidence of water.

These constructions are proof of a significant occupation for culture, and farming over several months of the year.