Le Dorat’s first fortifications were probably made of wood and encircled the castrum, around the church and the residence of the Count of La Marche.
Between 1424 and 1431, the chapter abbott Guillaume de l’Hermite had major stone fortifications built to secure the town against the mayhem caused by the Hundred Years War.
The outer wall had towers and four doorways. The only door left is Porte Bergère, in front of you. The other three were destroyed between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Porte Bergère has two massive circular towers surrounding a pathway with machicolations overhead, which were used to shoot assailants. The edifice underwent many modifications over the centuries and is now a registered Historical Monument. The stirrup-shaped arrow-slits date back to the 15th century whereas the « couleuvrinières » openings, for light artillery, were added on in the 16th century, during the agitated Religious Wars era.
Photos credits :
– Extrait du cadastre napoléonien de la ville du Dorat de 1824 montrant la topographie de la ville. © Archives départementales de la Haute-Vienne, P-3P69, section A3 (11 NUM)
– Illustration du chaos de la Guerre de Cent ans, vers 1484 (MS. Français 5054, folio 229v). © Gallica, BNF.
– La Porte Bergère avant modification © Archives départementales de la Haute-Vienne, côte 46 FI 5438
– La Porte Bergère vue depuis l’intérieur © Guiguilacagouille – commons wikimedia attribution
Porte Bergère, one of Le Dorat’s emblematic monuments used to be part of the fortifications which surrounded the town. This audio guide and its slides will help you to fully comprehend Le Dorat’s defense system.