Home History & Archaeology Each Medieval Lovers Dream: Dukes Citadel Unearthed in Brittany

Each Medieval Lovers Dream: Dukes Citadel Unearthed in Brittany

Each Medieval Lovers Dream: Dukes Citadel Unearthed in Brittany



In an thrilling revelation for each historical past buffs and archaeology lovers, the long-lost Château de l’Hermine in Vannes has been unearthed, providing a glimpse into the grandeur of medieval Brittany.

An Inrap workforce – commissioned by the Metropolis of Vannes – has simply unearthed the stays of the Château de l’Hermine, constructed by the Duke of Brittany Jean IV from the 1380s. The analysis revealed the ducal dwelling and its ornamented facade, completely different rooms in addition to circulation areas together with a number of staircases. The entire permits us to sketch a primary plan of this constructing.

Commissioned by the State companies (Drac Bretagne), the operation was carried out as a part of preventive archaeology, forward of the development of the long run Museum of Nice Arts of the Metropolis of Vannes.

The primary part came about between February and April 2023, within the cellars and within the present courtyard of the Lagorce Resort, a non-public mansion constructed on the finish of the 18th century on the ruins of the medieval citadel. A second part of excavation, carried out within the fall of 2023, made it attainable to broaden the excavation space and full the observations within the courtyard of the present constructing.

A Constructing Constructed within the Type of a “Porch Dwelling”

An archaeological prognosis carried out by Inrap in 2021 demonstrated that masonry of the medieval constructing remained beneath the footprint of the mansion, with out the total extent being perceived.

Beneath a thick embankment (2.5 to 4 meters/8 to13 toes), archaeologists unexpectedly uncovered the bottom flooring of an imposing constructing of which they excavated to over a meter in depth, and which corresponds to the ducal residence.

Site being stripped, view towards the southwest. (© Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

Web site being stripped, view in direction of the southwest. (© Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

A central passage connects the north door, constructed within the metropolis aspect facade, to a different door framed by two giant towers sitting on the town wall and recognized on previous plans. These overlook the outside moat.

The entire constructing has a “porch-house” plan much like that of the Château de Suscinio (Morbihan), the pleasure residence of the Dukes of Brittany, a mannequin that unfold from the second half of the 14th century. The residential house develops partly above the passage into the towers, an structure which mixes residential capabilities (chimneys, latrines, and so on.) and defensive capabilities.

The excavation steadily revealed the plan of the bottom flooring of the ducal dwelling, 42 meters (138ft) lengthy and 17 meters (56 ft) large, with exceptionally thick partitions, reaching 5.60 meters (18.5 ft).

That is immediately bordered by a moat, and flanked to the east by what’s described as a “sq. tower”.

Within the thickness of the facade partitions, archaeologists noticed a sure variety of architectural buildings. They uncovered a number of staircases, together with a remarkably preserved ceremonial staircase, presenting a embellished core and three steps, but additionally a cushioned window (a bench within the embrasure).

Remains of the first steps of the main spiral staircase. ( Rozenn Battais/Inrap)

Stays of the primary steps of the principle spiral staircase. (Rozenn Battais/Inrap)

Moat, Latrines, and Mill: a Citadel Surrounded by Water

Within the thickness of the masonry, at every finish of the home, archaeologists have additionally uncovered a set of latrines and drainage pipes regarding the higher ranges. The citadel should due to this fact have had three and even 4 flooring. The pipes result in pits, one in all which is corbelled above the inside moat.

Latrine space set up in the west gable of the house. (Rozenn Battais/Inrap)

Latrine house arrange within the west gable of the home. (Rozenn Battais/Inrap)

The excavation additionally revealed the presence of a mill built-in – in a really unique approach – into the residential house, in a room of the “sq. tower” extending the east gable of the home. The weather of the mill have disappeared however the place the place the wheel was inserted into the masonry could possibly be situated.

Staircase leading to the technical room of the mill, to the east of the house. (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

Staircase resulting in the technical room of the mill, to the east of the home. (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

A canal passing beneath the constructing carried water from the Marle river to energy the wheel. The latter drove the spinning wheel then the lantern, the situation of which archaeologists have discovered. Steel staples and ties bolstered the construction.

The evacuation of water in direction of the moat, downstream of the wheel, was finished via a gap made within the facade, the grille of which has been preserved.

Grate closing the outlet of the canal supplying the mill wheel (east). (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

Grate closing the outlet of the canal supplying the mill wheel (east). (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

This façade, which types the scarp of the moat and was crammed with water due to the canal, is laid out as a glacis (mild slope) earlier than plunging vertically over a complete peak of 4.5 meters (15 ft) to the underside of the moat.

Moat and Bridge

Dealing with the doorway to the citadel, the pier of a bridge has been partly cleared. This masonry massif measuring nearly 5 meters (16.5 ft) on either side is made up of a central passage bordered by two jambs rising greater than 2 meters (6.5 ft) excessive. A wood bridge linked it to the doorway to the citadel. This important improvement allowed entry to the town.

Clearing and cleaning the bridge pier. (Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

Clearing and cleansing the bridge pier. (Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

Architectural Coherence and Status

The uniformity of the supplies used for the development of the citadel and the standardization of the modules present a mastery of website administration all through the operational chain, from the extraction of the stone to its implementation.

Round 100 marks of staff supposed for the group of the positioning had been found on the stones: they mirror this coherent and managed architectural program. The facade of the home has a molded strip round its complete perimeter which underlines the flamboyancy of the constructing, as does the element of the decorations discovered on the jambs of the openings and even on the steps.

The development of the constructing came about in a single part, which demonstrates the significance of the monetary and human sources used. The stays point out that Duke Jean IV knew how you can encompass himself with one of the best engineers and craftsmen of the time.

Left; Detail of the prismatic base of the entrance gate jamb. Right; Lapidary marks on the external facing of the house. (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

Left; Element of the prismatic base of the doorway gate jamb. Proper; Lapidary marks on the exterior going through of the home. (Rozenn Battais/ Inrap)

Crockery, Cash, Jewellery, and Picket Artifacts

Latrines and drainage pipes had been searched manually. They delivered quite a few objects linked to the day by day lifetime of the citadel: cash, jewellery, cooking utensils (pots, frying pans, frying pans, and so on.) relationship from the fifteenth  / sixteenth centuries, but additionally a number of wood parts (bowls, fragments of barrels…) preserved due to the humidity of the surroundings.

As well as, archaeologists carried out a deep survey within the moat. From this very humid materials, they extracted a wealthy assortment, through which on a regular basis objects (pins, clothes or shoe buckles, slabs lined with graffiti, and so on.) rub shoulders with different objects belonging to a rich surroundings (metallic dishes, keys and padlocks for furnishings or containers, and so on.).

Picket architectural parts have additionally been discovered, corresponding to stays of the mill or the entry bridge to the citadel.

A selection of the huge array of medieval artifacts the excavations yielded. (Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

A choice of the massive array of medieval artifacts the excavations yielded. (Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap)

A Duke’s Citadel Fallen Into Oblivion

In 1365, Duke Jean IV signed the Treaty of Guérande placing an finish to greater than 20 years of battle opposing the Penthièvre household to the supporters of de Montfort, and inherited the Duchy of Brittany. In 1381, he undertook the development of fortresses all through the duchy in an effort to assert his energy.

In Vannes, the development of the Château de l’Hermine, which grew to become one of many strongholds of the duchy, was a part of the southward growth of the town ramparts. Carried out in a marshy space, near the foreshore, topic to tidal circulate and due to this fact most likely little developed till then, the work undertaken is a part of an enormous urbanization program which doubled the floor space of ​​the town.

Identified to be one of many favourite residences of Duke Jean IV, the Château de l’Hermine was used intensively for barely 100 years. Deserted in favor of that of Nantes by François II within the 1470s, it was definitively deserted within the seventeenth  / 18th centuries.

Nearly absent from the archives, the constructing solely seems in ruins on plans from the seventeenth century. A number of authors have tried to reconstruct the plan, however their proposals are at present usurped by these archaeological discoveries.

High picture: Archaeologists in Brittany unearthed the ruins of an elaborate medieval citadel and moat constructed within the 1380s. Supply: Emmanuelle Collado/ Inrap

That is an edited translation of a the press launch by INRAP, titled, “IN VANNES, THE CHÂTEAU DE L’HERMINE RESURFACES (MORBIHAN)” with an introduction by Historic Origins editor. Accessible at: https://www.inrap.fr/vannes-le-chateau-de-l-hermine-refait-surface-morbihan-17902#



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