Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Going back in time...

As we drove on homewards this Sunday, we remained on the alert for the sort of things we usually shoot pass on the motorway. We deliberately took the more minor roads, and very quickly saw signs to a Gallo-Roman villa outside the charmingly named village of Valentine.

Not bad for Roman ruins! In Britian these are almost never above ground, so it's still a surprise to find them standing (albeit a bit reinforced, in the case of those pillars...)

The villa was fenced off, although you could phone someone for access (we didn't, being on the move). However, there was another archaeological site, with no explanation except the above sign telling us not to excavate there.

(Editorial note: the French word for excavation is 'fouille', and one of my favourite bargain shops is 'La Foir Fouille', 'fouille' meaning 'rummage'. I like the idea of a scientific excavation being no more than a 'rummage'.)

Penetrating observation on the part of this former archaeology student divined that this was the ruins of a church, and that it was pretty old (oh, so talented...)
It is possible, of course, that the sarcophagi were a bit of a clue! There were a lot of them, and some pillar bases...So, Ben got 'to church' this Sunday anyway, even though I'd evily tempted him to go skiing instead ('the woman tempted me...' he excused himself feebly).

Further painstaking research (i.e. a lazy Google session) has proved that an interesting Visigoth burial was found at this church:

I like that heavy jewellery. I do feel sorry for the Visigoths, though. They were barbarian invaders who ousted the Romans and then decided to become civilised by adopting Christianity. Unfortunately, they were sold a dud, in the form of a heresy, so it's actually questionable whether they really became Christians or not. Very unfair on them, as they were just trying to fit in. They built some very impressive churches. Click on the link above to find out more about this one.

We then moved on towards Saint Gaudens, the regional town. On the outskirts, someone was supplying their home's electricity using this charming windmill:

In the centre, we snapped some photos of a wonderful brick and half timbered building.In the UK, the bricks would indicate that this building isn't so old. Here in the Romanised and clay-rich part of France, however, brick making was never forgotten, so ancient buildings can be made of brick.
This has been a bit of a nerdy kind of post, with all the archaeology/history stuff. It makes a change from shopping and sewing, I suppose! Tomorrow I'm thinking of visiting a few Charity Shops, so there may be a more typical post coming up... I've really enjoyed the work on this one, though! Hope you enjoyed it too.


Shabby Chick said...

Those bricks look brilliant, especially with those lovely shutters.

How cool to be able to drive past proper ruins like that and have a look without having to pay/ go to the gift shop etc etc!

mel xxx

Elizabethd said...

That was so interesting to read. You have found some super places in your travels.

juanitatortilla said...

Oh absolutely. I love "sightseeing" with bits of history and story thrown into it; it makes perfect sense and gives you a sense of connection to what you're seeing!