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La Grotte de la Forêt


Location of la Grotte de la Forêt.

To the north may be seen the major bridge over the Vézère and the cliffs of la Roque Saint-Christophe to the east of the bridge, while to the west of la Grotte de la Forêt is a minor bridge over the Vézère.

Photo: © 2017, CNES / Airbus, DigitalGlobe, via

Plan of la Grotte de la Forêt.

Latitude: 44.976835N Longitude: 1.056051E

Photo: Leroi-Gourhan (1984)

Two engraved reindeer from la Grotte de la Forêt.

Each shows a distinct line of markings on the coat, formed in this case by engraving into the surface, and now known as Pepper's patches.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: Facsimile, le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Pepper's patches
Virtually all descriptions of coat colour in  Rangifer   fail to mention a series of light-coloured patches or short vertical stripes that occur on the dorso-lateral or lateral surface of the thorax and lumbar regions and as irregular blotches on the upper lateral surface of the rump or hip region. These are not patches of worn pelage, breaks in the pelage over individual ribs, nor lumps and discoloured fur caused by subcutaneous warble larvae or their scars. These 'Pepper's patches' consist of longer, stiffer hairs, sometimes twisted and of a lighter colour than the surrounding fur, from which they are sharply differentiated.
Text above: Pruitt and Pepper (1986)

magdalenian  engraving reindeer
Fragment of a split rib. Length 108 mm, width 32 mm, from Le Morin.

( This and other examples of Palaeolithic art show that the hunters were well aware of these markings on mostly young and female reindeer - Don )

Photo and text: Deffarge et al. (1975)

engraved pendant
This pendant from Laugerie-Basse has been engraved with the hindquarters of a reindeer cow. Note the line of decorative notches carved along the flanks of the animal.

Label: Pendeloque gravée, Laugerie-Basse, Fouilles Hardy, Pr.A. 1902

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux

engraved pendant

Pepper's Patches

a. Rangifer t. tarandus. ♀. Whipsnade Zoo. Sketch by H.P. (Hubert Pepper), 1982.
b. 'Grinding ochre and painting frescoes on rock'. Redrawn by H.P. from Breuil (1949)
c. Reindeer engraved on bone, Massât; Ariège, France. Musée Ste. Germaine, Paris. Sketch by H.P.
d. Reindeer sculptured in ivory; Bruniquel. British Museum, London. Redrawn by H.P. from Graziosi (1960)
e. Reindeer carved on antler spear-thrower; Arudy. Musée Ste. Germaine, Paris. Redrawn by H.P. from Graziosi (1960)
f. Rock wall painting; Les Trois Frères, near Montesguion, Arantés, Ariège, France. Redrawn by H.P. from Leroi-Gourhan (1968)
g. Female reindeer on 'bâton de commandment'; Laugerie Basse. Redrawn by H.P. from Graziosi (1960)
h. 'Spotted Reindeer'; La Mouthe. Redrawn by H.P. from Breuil (1952)

Photo and text: Pruitt and Pepper (1986)


  1. Deffarge R., Laurent P., de Sonneville-Bordes D., 1974: Ciseaux ou lissoirs magdaleniens, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française. Comptes rendus des séances mensuelles , Year 1974 Volume 71 Issue 3 pp. 85-96
  2. Deffarge R., Laurent P., de Sonneville-Bordes D., 1975: Art mobilier du Magdalénien supérieur de l'Abri Morin à Pessac-sur-Dordogne (Gironde), Gallia préhistoire, Tome 18 fascicule 1, 1975. pp. 1-64.
  3. Géroudet P., 1965: Les Rapaces diurnes et nocturnes d'Europe, Université Lumière-Lyon 2, Delachaux & Niestlé, 6ème édition (1984), Paris, 426 p.
  4. Gourichon L., 1994: Les Harfangs (Nyctea scandiaca L. du gisement madgalénien du Morin (Gironde), Université Lumière-Lyon 2, Master's Thesis, 1994
  5. Leroi-Gourhan A., 1984: L'Art des cavernes : Atlas des grottes ornées paléolithiques françaises, Relié – 1 décembre 1984
  6. Maligne M., Langlais J., Barshay-Szmidt C., 2012: Des restes de chiens magdaléniens à l’abri du Morin (Gironde, France). Implications socio-économiques d’une innovation zootechnique, PALEO, 23 / 2012, pp. 39-54.
  7. Pruitt W., Pepper H., 1986: 'Pepper's patches' on Rangifer pelage, Rangifer, Special Issue No. 1, 1986
  8. Saachi D., 1972: Une Curieuse gravure d'oiseau dans le gisement magdalenien de Belvis (Aude), Zephyrus, 7S-4: 189-192.
  9. Vrba E., Schaller G., 2000: Antelopes, Deer, and Relatives: Fossil Record, Behavioral Ecology, Systematics, and Conservation, Yale University Press

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