Discover the site
The cave of Cotencher (Rochefort) is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Switzerland. It contains a 4 metre thick succession of layers tracing back the human and natural history of the Jura for more than 70’000 years.
In the oldest levels, bones of about 60 different long gone species such as the cave bear have been found.
During the Palaeolithic, the cave was a tempo-rary shelter for Neanderthals who came from regions north of the Jura while maintaining strong contacts with this region. Other finds from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Medieval periods were also made in this cave. Today, it shelters a rich subterranean fauna including invertebrates (spiders, insects, etc.) and especially bats. These are a protected species and must to be particularly attended to.
A bear tooth
This impressive canine tooth, discovered during the excavations of Cotencher between 1916 and 1918, belonged to a cave bear, the main inha-bitant of the cave during Prehistory.
Here you can download the data to print in 3D the tooth of this plantigrade. Now it is up to you!
The Cotencher project
Structured around the enhancement of the Cotencher cave, the Cotencher Project envisions raising awareness of the natural and archaeo-logical heritage of the canton of Neuchâtel. Led by the Archaeology Section of the cantonal Office of Heritage and Archaeology, and with its privileged partner, the association « Maison de la Nature Neuchâteloise », it secures the participation of different associations and institutions.
Through this project, the site of Cotencher is equipped with durable facilities allowing access for visitors while ensuring the preservation of its archaeological and natural substance.
The cave is subject to scientific assessment com-bining laboratory analyses and field-based operations: environment studies, geology, climatology, modern cave fauna, recomposition and study of the old archaeological as well as archaeozoological collections, dating, etc.
Since its opening on the 5th of June 2018, the cave can be visited with a guided tour. Registrationis possible through:
- The Association « Maison de la Nature Neuchâteloise » for schools or groups ;
- The Laténium, in relation with the temporary exhibition « Au pays du grand ours », which lasts till the 6th of January 2019
- The activities of the Site of the Month : firstname.lastname@example.org
Adult : CHF 10.-
Children under 6 years : free
Cash payment only on site. Please have the exact amount when paying.
Please bring a helmet (a bicycle helmet is enough) and good shoes.
The guide will give instructions on the way to behave before entering the cave.
Registration is possible at the latest till the Thursday before the visit.
Part of the exhibition « Au pays du grand ours » of the Laténium shows the finds made in the Cotencher cave. Opening hours of the museum : 10am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
The cave of Cotencher is linked to further sites in the Gorge of the Areuse (the rock shelter of La Baume du Four, the quaint Musée de l’Areuse in Boudry, La Morille and La Noctule in Champ-du-Moulin). Information exists in the form of illustrated panels, educational material and films.
Acces and contact
By train (Highly recommended): From the rail-way station of Neuchâtel: Take the Regio in direction of La Chaux-de-Fonds and leave the train at Chambrelien. From the station, it takes 10 min. to reach the cave. It is recommended to meet the guide at the Chambrelien train station and walk to the cave together.
By car: From Yverdon-les-Bains or from Biel/ Bienne, take the A5 motorway and take the exit Boudry Ouest. Follow the Route des Buchilles, Faubourg Philippe-Suchard, Route de Trois Rods and Pré-Vert towards the Route du Pré-Vert in Rochefort.It is possible to leave the car at the Chambrelien train station, but parking places are not guaranteed.
On foot: You can also reach the Cotencher cave from Champ-du-Moulin after a good hours’ walk.
The site provides no access for people with reduced mobility or with strollers.