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Gallo-Roman thermal baths unearthed in north-western France

Gallo-Roman remains are numerous in Portbail, located in north-western France. They bear witness to the occupation of the town in the first two centuries AD and each new construction site provides an opportunity to see the city and its significance at the period.

Gallo-Roman thermal baths unearthed in north-western France
Excavation of the Gallo-Roman bath complex at Portbail 
[Credit: Benoît Martin, Radio France]
This time, it was the launch of a single-family house project on a plot of land in the hamlet of Saint-Marc, which triggered the initial archaeological investigation in Portbail. A series of soundings in 2013 determined the value of the site and led to the ongoing excavation campaign.

From September 18, a dozen members of the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) have been digging the site on several hundred square metres and have revealed important vestiges of Gallo-Roman baths. "It is an ensemble dating from the 2nd century AD," says out Laurent Paez-Rezende, scientific manager of the project.

At the time, the hamlet of Saint-Marc was an important urban complex with villas and various facilities. Several important remains have also been found in recent years in neighbouring plots.

This time, the group of buildings brought to light is characterized by its very good state of preservation. "We found foundations and vestiges of walls, piles of bricks belonging to a heating and drainage system, as well as pottery and even glass from the windows of the structure", adds Laurent Paez-Rezende.

Gallo-Roman thermal baths unearthed in north-western France
Laurent Paez-Rezende supervises the work undertaken by the National Institute for Preventive 
Archaeological Research [Credit: Benoît Martin, Radio France]
The excavations are scheduled to end on 22 December. On that day, the land will be returned to its owner who can begin construction of his house. The remains will have been covered with earth. But the archaeologists will have taken care to extract the most interesting elements, in addition to photographing and mapping the architectural complex.

This will be the subject of analyses and a report by INRAP, which will provide more information on the location of a city in Portbail during the Gallo-Roman period.

"We know that wherever we walk in Portbail, we walk on Gallo-Roman remains," said the deputy mayor Serge Laidet.

"It's not for nothing that we call our commune Portbail la Romaine", he added.

Source: France Bleu [December 06, 2017]


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