We move on to another chamber with a horse, mammoths, bison and aurochs outlined in black, manganese oxide on the walls. There is energy and movement in the sweep of the lines that bring the animals alive. A simple dark stroke becomes the unmistakable outline of a mammoth, another becomes the curve of its tusk. Animals overlay animals as though in a dreamlike, silent herd.
Another cavern, massive boulders. The ceiling has scratches in the soft clay, a sketched tangle of entwined bison and mammoths, a mammoth morphing into a woman with pendulous breasts, a ‘mammoth-woman’. It is easy to see how rock becomes animal and animal, human here; a realm of dream beings. Dots and sinuous lines - helped by the contours of the rock itself, glacial, river-worn and pock marked over time - become broad-bellied horses, a massive aurochs, the head of a stag. The animals stand or run, leap, collide and almost bellow silent roars from beyond the walls and across the millennia.
We come to the image of a cave bear scratched cleanly on the rock as though created yesterday. Through more dark tunnels and cool shadows we arrive in a long chamber with a smooth wall on which is painted a frieze of spotted horses. Their black heads are tiny, but where one of the horses is drawn the rock is shaped just like the head and neck of a horse making the creature life-like and almost life-size. These horses, we are told, were painted 24,600 years ago.
Dots and dashes, associated with some of the paintings, are perhaps symbolic of a shamanic consciousness, of a distant magical realm. Negative hand prints, created by blowing pigment on to the rock surface, were made by both a woman and a man. And there is a footprint crystallised in calcite, frozen in time from millennia ago, left when a young man walked across the cave through a wet patch of clay.