Allassac is located on a geological zone that is marked by the presence of slate and sandstone. These two types of stone are everpresent in the area’s architecture. Slate quarrying began here, during the Middle Ages and intensified during the 19th century. Slate quarrying took place on a single site. Schist slates were extracted from the surface of the earth and from underground deposits via wells which were sometimes 100 metres deep. Slate quarrying declined during the 20th century when less costly materials appeared, such as interlocking tiles, cement fibre and Spanish slates. But the quarry was recently relaunched by a company called Bugeat…
Jean François Bugeat Interview:
« Here we are standing amidst the quarry. The Travassac massif is composed of 7 distinct veins which were exploited from the middle of the 17th century onwards. The veins were first discovered by farmers who realized that certain pieces of stone could be split. From then on, they used the stone to cover their cabins. They didn’t call the stone slates, they called them «couverseaux”, since they were used for covering. They were simply slabs of stone used to take shelter. We began by mining, which meant splitting the large stone blocks. Then, the slabs were transported to a worksite where laborers who were in charge of splitting and carving the stones worked. Next, the large stone blocks were re-divided. Here in Travassac, we call that “rebillage”. Each stone splitter had to prepare 1 tonne of stone, per day. The “rebillage » dividing procedure took 2 hours per day. Then, each worker had to prepare every block to be split. Hammers and small chisels were used to detach layers of slate. Each slate tile had to measure 4 to 5 mm for the finest slates, and up to 8 mm for models called “Auvergnat” slates.