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Possible Gallic settlement discovered in Saint-Flour

Prior to the construction of the Saint-Flour road bypass, a project carried out by the Cantal County Council, a team from Inrap carried out an excavation from April to June 2018 at a place called "La Cheyre", north of the hamlet of Roueyre, on the northern border of the commune of Saint-Flour, at the request of the State (Drac Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).

Possible Gallic settlement discovered in Saint-Flour
Credit: Bertrand Houdusse, Inrap
Covering an area of just under 2 ha, the excavation stretches 400m in length on either side of the GR4 long hiking trail. It is located on the southern and eastern slopes of a mound culminating at an altitude of 836m, giving rise to steep slopes over the excavation sectors. The main object of the operation concerns the study of the remains of the end of the Iron Age (2nd -Ist century BC) of a probable Gallic settlement unknown until now. This is the first large-scale excavation of Gallic remains in the Cantal department.

Few of the structures in the excavated areas relate directly to residential remains. On the other hand, the operation has brought to light a certain number of developments, the scale and diversity of which suggest the likelihood of a small settlement.

Thus, the southern zone of the excavation shows the presence of a 60m long visible traffic axis, in the form of a hollow track, the track tread of which includes amphora shard fills.

Possible Gallic settlement discovered in Saint-Flour
Credit: Bertrand Houdusse, Inrap
In the immediate vicinity, a set of structures related to water management was discovered: at least three wells, a well, probable cisterns and nested amphora pipes. Due to the clay subsoil and the continuous presence of water, two of the excavated wells revealed, in a completely unexpected manner, the lower part of their wooden casing preserved over more than 1m in height.

The presence of organic matter allowed sediment samples to be taken in order to study the fossilized remains of seeds or pollens, and to restore the plant environment of the archaeological site. In addition, the conservation of the wood of the well casing will allow an in-depth technical analysis of the construction method, as well as an ecological study based on these same elements.

In the second excavation zone, remains of kilns of various shapes and dates (some of which can be attributed to the early Roman period) bear witness to the probable existence of a pottery workshop on the site. In other structures, waste related to iron metallurgy has also been discovered. All these elements, as well as the large quantity of amphorae discovered, underline the diversity of activities practised on the site at the end of the Iron Age.

"All these clues will allow us to understand the urban status of this Gallic occupation and its relations with the Roman town at the foot of the Saint-Flour plateau", said an Inrap spokeman.

Source: Inrap [July 22, 2018]


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