Grotte de Trabuc, Mialet, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

TRABUC caves have been known since the Earliest Antiquity; E. Dumas reported discovering bones and tools demonstrating that prehistoric men had lived in these caves until Roman times. These occupations can be explained.

The entrance is narrow. The presence of a vast chamber providing precious water allows both easy defence and opportunity for a hiding place which are favourable to habitat.

Later on, the caves were used as refuges and a gunpowder factory by the “Camisards” at the Reformation period. The king’s troops blocked the entrance off as they did for entrances to other caves in the surrounding area in order to eliminate these invulnerable hideouts.

A century later, it is thought that they were used as a refuge by “Trabucaires” or other drivers and highwaymen. The name of the cave is derived from the name “TRABUC” (blunderbuss) – a muzzle-loading firearm worn by bandits in that murky time. It was dangerous and efficient when loaded with powder and scrap iron.

In local dialect, those men wearing and using the “trabuc” were called “trabucaïres”. Then, serious explorers succeeded those sinister-looking explorers. Those ahead of their time potholers – as the name did not exist at that time – wanted to know all the secrets of the cave.

In 1823, Nicod and Gallière climbed deep into the caves and were justifiably the first pioneers of potholing. They became discoverers of underground camps in consequence of expeditions of three consecutive days spent underground.Gallière, who got lost one day or, we should say, one night, without any light, spend fifty-two hours and was found nibbling his laces and drinking his urine.

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