he story of the discovery of the prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux, in the Dordogne region of southwest France, is one worthy of a Boys’ Own adventure ripping yarn. On 12 September 1940, Marcel Ravidat, aged 18, was walking his dog Robot in the hills outside the town of Montignac. Robot, scampering along the hillside, suddenly disappeared from view.
Marcel ran over to where his dog had last been seen and discovered he had fallen down a hidden hole, and was lost from view. The teenager ran back to the town to gather his three friends, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, and together they effected a rescue of the stricken Robot.
They climbed down a 50ft-long shaft, shuffling through on their elbows in some cases. Excitement was growing among the four; there were long-standing rumours about the tunnels that crisscrossed the area, and that one of them led to buried treasure.