The origins of the town are still subject to debate today but it would seem that the present puy Saint-Clair, a rocky spur with steep slopes separating the Corrèze valley from that of the Solane, was an ideal location for the establishment of a Gallic oppidum. For a long time, it seems that the town has been an important crossroads on the road between Armorique and the Mediterranean Sea and on the road between Aquitaine and the Rhone Valley, both of which crossed the Corrèze at this point by a ford.

With the Roman occupation, the place would have been converted into a necropolis and a temple in honour of Tutela, a Roman divine power to whom the protection of people, things and especially places was entrusted, would have been built. It is from this Roman goddess, protector of the travellers who used to use the ford, that the name of the city would come from. The temple of Tutela must have been located in the Trech district, whose name refers to the crossing of a river. The real urban centre of the region moved a few kilometres north, to the commune of Naves and the site of Tintignac, which became a crossroads between the Roman roads that followed the ancient routes of the Celtic period.