19. February 2020 · Comments Off on Ancient bell tower of Brantome · Categories: Uncategorized

The ancient bell tower that crowns Brantome is reputed to be one of the oldest in France. It has remained relatively intact over time, having been built straight into the limestone cliff face, and always a separate structure from the church. It once doubled as a lookout and defensive tower, as it could originally be completely closed off from outside access, although it can now be reached from inside the church.

One of the levels of the tower houses what looks like an early place of worship, indicated by an alcove in the wall. The lack of any Christian symbolism, however, leads one to question the true origin of this space. On the level below, an ancient Roman pillar supports the stonework, and is believed to have been taken by the monks from an ancient pagan temple, probably dedicated to Mercury, originally located on the site.

The bells currently in the bell tower are not original. The heavier bell, weighting 1.2 tons, dates from 1732, having avoided being stolen during the French revolution due to its weight. Another dates from 1874, and was cast in nearby St Emilion.

The bell tower combines Roman and Carolingian designs, and features gables, bay windowed storeys and ornate capitals in its upper section, which is crowned by a pyramid-shaped stone roof. The tower’s foundations show Gallo-Roman traces, which suggests that its base was an ancient structure set into the limestone rock.

For more history on Brantome, read more

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