The excavation site of La Madeleine in Saint-Emilion opens its doors to the public until Friday, July 19th. On this occasion, the archaeologists will present vestiges and will share the last discoveries.
The site of the Madeleine located on a plateau outside the town of Saint-Emilion and dominating the Fongaban Valley contains the remains of an old Romanesque church associated with a cemetery. The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is mentioned in a charter of Archbishop Arnaud Geraud de Cabanac (1103-1131) dated around 1100. It is relegated outside the walls of when the construction of the enclosure located between the years 1199 and 1224 before being razed in the years 1338-1340. His cemetery continues to be used until the seventeenth century hosting inter alia burials of Protestant graves and victims of the plague.
An archaeological excavation site led by N. SAUVAITRE, archaeologist from HADES, associate member of the AUSONIUS research laboratory (UMR-CNRS 5607, Bordeaux-Montaigne University) and seconded by Coralie DEMANGEOT, anthropologist of HADES and a member of the laboratory PACEA (UMR-CNRS 5199, University of Bordeaux) is conducted on the plateau to clear the remains and understand the funeral management of the cemetery. This project allows students to learn the basics of archeology and the excavation of burials.
The different campaigns allowed the complete release of the church of which only the chevet and the western facade remain. The estimated length of the church is 28 m long and 8.60 m wide. The church is enlarged to the north, probably between the mid-12th and early 13th century, with the establishment of a new aisle. During the thirteenth century, the building undergoes a third modification with the installation of a front body facing his portal. To date, 170 graves have been recorded and three types of burials have been referenced: rock tombs for the oldest levels, chests built of rubble and cut stones, burials in the ground for the most recent ones. The discovery of several burial vaults is also a problem of research on the mode of operation of this type of burial.
The site opens its doors to the public. On this occasion, the archaeologists will present the remains and will share the latest discoveries. Free tours lasting about 30 minutes are planned for groups of up to 15 people.