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This watchtower, also known as a belfry or clock tower, dates from the 13th century. It stood guard over one of the gates of the lower town leading to the castle of the Viscounts of Ventadour and the upper town.
It is recorded in the official charter of 1345 that towards the end of the 13th century, the Viscounts, who were the local rulers at that time, granted the town its freedom and tax-free status.
The watchtower subsequently became a belfry and symbol of the towns independence from the local rulers. It was a lay belfry, used for tolling the hour and for gathering the locals.
During this time, towns right across the Lower Limousin region were being emancipated. The self-governing town was administered by 4 consuls, whose job it was to ensure the town’s safety and oversee the material and moral interests of the population. All 4 of Meymac’s consuls were elected by a popular assembly. This contrasted with common practice at that time, which entrusted the local ruler with nominating two out of four consuls.

Photos credits :
– Le beffroi © Bibliothèque intercommunale de Meymac
– Carte postale : vue de Meymac début 20ème siècle © CML
– Le beffroi, détail © Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, Inventaire général du Patrimoine culturel. S. Casenove, 2017
– Le beffroi, détail © Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, Inventaire général du Patrimoine culturel. S. Casenove, 2017

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Around the abbey

The belfry

This tower is a remnant of the towns old fortifications and has served as a belfry, a free-standing spire, symbol of the towns independence from the local lord. Listen to its history.

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