Cemeteries and sepultures
The death is very important in the Middle Age. Study the sepulture truly understands throughout the rituals and the technical choices the evolution of both the liturgy of the dead and the perception of the transition to death.
The tomb is revelator of the social organization of the medieval society.
Limousin presents many of medieval cemeteries which are particularly interesting to visit. Moreover some exceptional tombs are conserved and show the artistic wealth of those pieces.
The church is built around the tomb of the saint which is the connection point with the celestial world, center of the cult and the pilgrimage. In the 12th century the whole building is a tomb: wall paintings, stained glasses, sculpted cycles enable to edify the pilgrim. This program includes the funeral monument (shrine or coffin): always alive, the saint is represented active, he continues to act for the community salvation.
However, besides the uncontested and universal saints the example figures had been increased: they are powerful laics who protected the Church with a remarkable devotion and the founders of communities at the service of God directed with excellence. They can legitimately claim a kind of holiness the brothers kept a privileged memory of it. Their tombs proceed directly to the saint ones: architecture, shape and disposition of the coffin are defined according to the same rules. Exceptionally, they include the representation of the dead and also the categories of recognition of the holiness are finally limited to some canonical types, the funeral iconography, linked to the hagiographic iconography is elaborated around a closed number of conventional figures.
But some honorable persons who deserved to be remove from the undistinguished community of the dead beneficiate a particular celebration. It can be a text, an epitaph praying their virtues and calling for prays, or a stone indicating the location of a privilege inhumation. The funeral effigy respects this distinction neither soul (naked homunculi without individuals’ lines or attributes) norrarely a body. But the only representation of a dead constitutes already the recognition of exceptional deserves with those he could approach the saint, escaping the communal rule. His tomb, monumental expression of his privileged status, has to underline this proximity: the character opens the eyes, hurries but keeps his earthly attributes, his own body. The funeral effigy prefers the hagiographic iconography risking losing the first essential function of the monument: attract the prayers to enable the salvation. How to get those if the dead is represented as already saved? Fundamentally these hesitations concern the liturgy ones and the uncertainties linked to the definition of this intermediary group: Do we have to conserve the memory of the soul, the name, the virtues or the memory of the body and the tomb ?
In the second half of the 12th century, monuments are often spread and are evidences of temptations to link body and soul. Amongst the most remarkable, some oppose the representation of the dead body exposed during the funerals and the representation of the chosen soul, taken away by the angels. Progressively in the first decades of the 13th century, these two components fused in only one effigy. The dead is alive, with open eyes but doesn’t belong to the celestial world: his head lies on a cushion, manifestation of his physical presence in the tomb. Untied from any dependence too closed of a particular social group, this iconography spreads progressively to the different categories and stops to be exclusive.
(Source - Julien LOUIS / L’effigie funéraire dans le royaume de France– Pays d’oïl –1134 – 1267)
Cimetière de Soudaine-Lavinadière
In the Merovingian time, the necropolis was set out of the habitat. The tomb was so considered as a representative image of the place of the dead in the society. The person is so barred with characteristicfurnitures: clothing, weapons… The tombs were organized in regular rows, oriented east-west. The persons were interred on the back, in the full soil but more often in a stone coffer, a coffin or a wooden coffer. From the 7th century the funeral furniture wasrarer and disappeared around the middle 8th century. It is the consequence of the Christianization progress.
The rapport between the dead and the living progressed along the High Middle Age. In the Carolingian times, they didn’t exclude the dead but in the opposite focus the tombs around the churches except some small groups who still barred their dead close to the habitat. That is the evolution to the medieval cemetery. The antic tradition to separate the worlds of the dead and the living one is progressively abandoned.
(Source - Isabelle Catteddu)
From the 12th century it was a polarization problem of the social organization which was set around these new ecclesiastic and funerals wholes. The soil of the cemetery became so a social space highly invested allowing the articulation of the social practices of the “sacred” and generating a parish territory.
“Manifesting a pacified and spiritualized rapport of this land which contains the bodies of the baptized, the cemetery personified perfectly the simultaneity process of spiritualization and spatialization” concluded Michel Lauwers before to propose a brand new vision of the social order articulated in consequence around the church, the land and the dead. This new way to define the dead and the living started to decrease at the end of the Middle Age even if the beginnings have to be found from the 13th century.
(Source - Michel Lauwers, Naissance du cimetière. Lieux sacrés et terre des morts dans l'Occident médiéval)
Sépulture collective du XIIIème - Collégiale de Brive - Fouilles INRAP
Sépulptures carolingiennes - Limoges
The creation of the cemeteries close to the buildings replied to the organization of a hierarchyin a land. Three concentric places were symbolically and physically defined: the church, the closest part of the cemetery to the church and the farthest one where we find the communal grave and tombs directly in the soil.
The first place was invested by the nobles and the high bourgeoisie. The second was reserved to the common people. The main families bought very high the right to have tombs in the church of their parish:people wanted to rest at the foot of the altar to become the special object of prays and sleep close to their fathers in order to arise with them.
Source - Maurice ROBERT / Patrimoine funéraire en Limousin
With the Christianity the funeral conceptions changed. The affirmation in the Book of Wisdom about the double nature of the men (spiritual with the soul and material with the body) privileges the burial instead of the incineration. Asleep in the Lord at his death, the body has to wait to be resuscitated at the last judgment.
From the 4th century, when the Christianity had spread across Limousin, we progressively abandoned the fire to the burial, even if the willingness of the Fathers of the Church was first to break off the paganism by burringfor example Martial and Valérie. But the incineration was really forbidden under the reign of Charlemagne. When the Inquisition turned on again the fire condemnation for heretics later it will be with the purpose to purify them. Indeed the cremation was reserved to the criminals condemned to the eternal fire.
The poorest are in the ossuary or in the best cases in an individual grave directly in the soil or in a rough coffin of tuff. The clerks and the powerful laics had the right to have stone or lead coffins from the 5th and 6th centuries until the 13th century. Soon they had their images drawn and then sculpted in the stone or in a molded lead in order to better glorify their memories, and the faithful came to adore their recumbent statues.
In the 13th century the wooden coffin became common with few traditions: such as put to the neck of the dead body or at his cross hands a rosary; put a coin that supposed to pay the passage of Acheron and a vase of holy water to protect him for the bad spirits and facilitate his access close to the Highest.
The use of recover the tomb with slabs appeared in the 12th century. They are often massive for the most respectable like the monks, sometimes in a roof shape like we can see in Chalard. Above some “roofs” said saddle roofs we can even find sculpted slates and lauze (local roof). Then in the 15th century some tombs had a cross and were provided also to the laics with an inscription and even a portrait.
Source - Maurice ROBERT / Patrimoine funéraire en Limousin
Few examples of cemeteries and tombs in Limousin :
CRYPT OF SAINT-MARTIAL ABBEY
During the Low-Empire, perhaps from the beginning of the 4th century, a necropolis was built in this suburban part of the city. Inside this necropolis a mausoleum had sheltered probably from the 5th century a cult to Saint-Martial, the first bishop of Limoges dead a century sooner. This mausoleum today conserved in an archeologic crypt is located less than 70 meters away from the place concerned by the archeologic search.
Around the end of the 3th century or at the beginning of the 4th century the site became one of the necropolises of the Low Empire. This place remained a privileged inhumation area during the biggest part of the first millennium. Despite the discovery of many graves during the previous works realized on the site, more than 200 inhumations have been updated during the excavations of 2012. Different types of graves have been identified. Many coffins in limestone, in granite or in impactite have been updated. Amongt the different coffins of several materials (archeological terracotta, granite stabs, wood) discovered, we can point out two in particular whose cover were made with stabs of broken tile concrete. Graves on carbon beds and some with a stretcher had also been updated. At this time of the researches it doesn’t seem that a particular recruitment of dead people happened, even if a majority of adults was counted.
“Thanks to the excavations of our predecessors, we could list 500 stone elements and 243 graves” explained the archeologist Xavier Lhermete. The mausoleum of Saint-Martial was indeed a part of a huge necropolis that expanded there in the 4th century. That is the explanation of the presence of 243 other graves in the crypt.
(Source - Xavier LHERMITE EVEHA)
It should be noted that we found in the crypt coffins which have been carved in the rock so-called “intact breach” from a meteorite fall in the region of Rochechouart. The lightness facilitated the transport of these coffins in long distance trips. We also noticed during the excavations realized in the former cemeteries of Limoges that the bodies placed in breach coffins have well been conserved whereas the ones in granite coffins were reduced to dust.
PALEO CHRISTIAN MAUSOLEUM AND NECROPOLIS IN LIMOGES
In the cemetery of la Courtine, in the center of Limoges, on the outskirts of the roman city and close to the sanctuary of the saint founder of the grand abbey of Saint Martial, the excavations of 2013 revealed an exceptional mausoleum. It dates back from the 4th century with many modifications until the 8th century. It is a 2 meters high saved building, that is already rare and it is dotted with an apse on each lateral wall. These apses were bordered with gutters made of antic stone reemployed. An apse in the west moves on the neighbor parcel and wasexcavated only inside. There was found a crypt made up with 2 pieces with brick walls of antic hypocaust reemployed and with traces of a painted plaster. Three complete openings and another incomplete have been found. To finish, the eastern wall of the mausoleum was largely pierced at an unspecified date and constituted with the fusion of the building excavated in the 19th century a rare church with a double apse, on the model of Saint-Pierre du Sépulcre on Saint-Martial tomb.
We count less than ten similar examples of this building in France, all are not well conserved. Specialists came from Paris to study it. In the north of the nave in large-sized stone was located a cellar stair stairways: it is probably the cellar of the grand abbey of Saint-Martial, cradle and choir of Limoges. This cellar should have been dug by the abbey Isembert in the 12th century according to the chronicles of Saint-Martial.
After another reading of the text of Gregoire of Tours (538-594) and with what we know about pilgrimages to the tomb of Saint-Martial, the coffin of Saint-Martial would be the one the tradition had attributed for a long time to Tève le Duc whose name appears only at the end of the first millennium.
This plaque, put beside the relics of saint Martial indicates “here rest Saint Martial apostle of the Christ” ([HIC REQUIESCIT]/MARTIALIS/APOSTOLUS XPI).
The cemetery of the abbey of Châlard abbey
The cemetery is rich of many medieval graves with sculpted stone or saddle stone. We notice the emblems of the burred persons: the woodcutter axe, the blacksmith pliers or hammer, the stole of the prayer in the most sculpted one. A building more important has been realized by using the burred stones and two recumbent statues of serpentine stone representing probably an Annunciation (Saint Gabriel and the Virgin).
Late tomb of the 13th century of the lord Gouffier de Lastours and Agnès of Aubusson, daughter of Ranulphe IV and Alix of Magnac.
A tomb of Châlard is more problematic. It takes place in a whole of late pseudo-coffins, the buildings with predominant “church roof”.
However it is sensibly different: it is smaller, without decoration on the sides and unique particularity, each side has a human sculpture. Two characters are turned face to face and meet at the ridge, holding their hands and maybe kissing. They wear the same clothes, the long monastic cloth with cap. Like in Javarzay, this representation enables to precise the rank of the dead without necessarily representing him explicitly.
THE UZERCHE CHURCH EPITAPH
The bond with the body is essential with the slab as a pseudo iconic or aniconic coffin. The progressive narrowing around these two shapes of monument is detrimental to a third one, literally different which, on the contrary dissociates the buried and the inhumation locations: that is the graved epitaph.
The main part of the epitaph of the monk Boson in the abbey of Saint-Pierre d’Uzerche (Corrèze) is constituted of a long text presenting the deceased as a pious man and a skilled manager, a perfect abbot, exemplary in the spiritual as in the temporal. He achieved the mission given by the apostles of the Christ : the prior named Mathieuto glorify the one who “observed the simplicity of the dove and had equally the skillfulness of a snake”. Boson deserved the blessings of God: the water springs Caleb gave to his daughter Axa in the Promised Land, the refrigerium, the waiting and refreshing place of the chosen, if it is not the paradise, watered with the four rivers. This learned part is relevant of the virtuosity exercise with the biblical references and the versification constraint, which are supposed to be well known by the reader.
To underline again the virtues of the clerk the epigraphist describes the celestial approbation of his action: “the divine misericord delighted Boson of this world” so the classical literary reason of the “migravit ad Dominum”. Already present in Gregory of Tours writings it is imposed as the expression of the expiration of a venerable character, particularly in Les Vies : the bishop Lietbert “emigrated happily to the Christ” in 1073, June 22nd and one century later the abbot Gossuin, after terrible pains “emigrated to the Lord” in 1629, October 9th.
The sculptor transcribes plastically by representing on the right part of the relief Boson taken away by an angel. But contrary to the monument of Ranulfe it is not a conventional elevation: the deceased is wearing the monastic dress and holds in front of him the holly book and designates it. Like that, the iconography evokes less the expiration than the apotheosis: by his action and his virtues the prelate transfigured his own body. The text and the effigy referring to each other, give so enough information about his role, his function, his merits in order to arouse, justify and orientate properly the pray : he scrupulously studied, followed and ensure the divine law is respected, for his salvation, his brothers one and the reader one who will follow his example. But the text of the epitaph finishes with a reference of the liturgy: “that his brothers so, writing his praise, honor his name: and that, for their brother, they pray God with a big piety” followed by an obituary mention: “the 17th of the calends of September died Boson, of a good memory” and then of the text of the pray itself: “that from the grace of God his soul rests in peace. Amen”. Boson is not sosaved.
(Source - Julien LOUIS / L’effigie funérairedans le royaume de France– Pays d’oïl –1134 – 1267)
Gisant de Saint-Etienne d'Obazine
TOMB OF SAINT ETIENNE OF AUBAZINE
In the 13th century we were concerned about honoring Saint Etienne of Obazine, to transfer his bones in the abbatial church and to honor the memory of the saint by elevating a tomb worthy of his merits. Thus the famous golden and white limestone tomb was built with an exceptional finer point of the grain. The monument was set in the southern arm of the transept where we could easily get from outside by the cemetery door.
Sculpted and designed as a shrine-reliquary, the tomb is composed of a molding base on which the recumbent statue with liturgical ornaments was sculpted. The sides are constituted of a much opened arcature. The whole is covered with a double pitch roof and each pitch proposes a sculpted program constituted with a group of character represented in high relief and trefoil arcades. It is clearly not a limousine oeuvre but rather a piece of art made around 1260 of the workshops in Ile de France and it is possible that Louis IX, close as we know of the Cistercian is not stranger of the realization of such order.
During the renovation of 1885, we found pieces of a lead trunk, bones and pieces of an abbot stick.
(Source - Bernadette BARRIERE / Moines en Limousin, l'aventure cistercienne)
TOMB OF SAINT JUNIEN
Junien was ahermit of the first part of the 6th century. In accordance with the hierarchy of the ecclesiastic holiness his hermitic choice put him among the secular clergy: it was up to him to miraculously heal the future bishop Rorice II of Limoges who becameJunien’s debt, and funded an abbey on his tomb after his death in 540. A first Elevation took place in 990: in order to be put on the altar, the relics were taken away of the coffin which has a picked roof and is preciously preserved and still visible. The reconstruction of the church between 1070 and 1130 leads to a new layout: the venerable tomb is dropped off the feet of the altar and more certainly engaged in it. This rupture is however based on continuity like the inscription of the early years of the 12th century graved in the new altar prove: here lies Saint-Junien’s body in the coffin itself where the bishop Saint Rorice buried him, Rainaud, bishop of Périgueux who deserved to be martyr gathered the relics in wooden coffers dropped off the feet of the coffin. Sanctified by the contact with the relics, the coffin is also sanctified with the manipulations of bishops such as Rainaud, who died as a crusader. But the confusion of the sentence unveils mostly the assimilation of the altar to the reliquary and the reliquary to the tomb.
From 1160 the construction site of the new collegial of Saint-Junien started again: the façade was rebuilt, and the choir at the end of the century. This ambitious enterprise was the most spectacular side of the attempt to revive the cult of Saint-Junien. In the same time, a new vita was written and the altar-coffin was enclosed in new proportions with sumptuous decoration evocating the goldsmithery. The former inscription hidden inside the new layout became an “authentifica”. The oriental side, in the ambulatory part and so immediately visible of the believer was dedicated to the Christ of the Last Judgment.
The guide, the twenty four old men, crowned and wearing musical instruments are represented along the two sides in two registers. On the northern part they are leading by Mary, holding the child in one hand and presenting the virginity’s lily on the other hand. It is the Virgin Mother presented with a long inscription beside his son, the terrible judge when she is benevolent. In the south, the old men row is interrupted by a loculus behind the wooden doors which allows the contemplation of the first coffin and reliquaries of Saint-Junien.
Contrary to the universal intercessor Mary, the hermit is not present in image but by his relics “here lies the body of Saint-Junien in the coffin where he was put in the first place”. This inscription, graved above the Christian sign is an echo to the representation of the Lamb under the gate of the niche and underlines the ubiquity of the saint: he is both among the old men, the Virgin and the Christ and among the faithful, physically present in his tomb. The invisible part of the coffin enclosed a part of the realm of God projected on the sides of the tomb. With the presence of the holly body, the celestial and terrestrial worlds are communicating: painted on the cradle of the nave, the twenty four old men are present again, John and four worshippers glorify another time the Lamb presented by angels. The vault is explicitly associated to the celestial Jerusalem and takes again the iconography of the tomb. So the church is fully the terrestrial echo of the divine kingdom with the presence of Junien.
TOMB OF SAINT BARTHELEMY
The monument is still in place in the church of Chénérailles (Creuse), it was made for the priest Barthélémy de la Place, but the date of the death is incomplete, “M.CCC.[…]”.
The stone, a soft limestone, enabled the sculptor to admirably have care of the details. Text and image are not juxtaposed anymore but narrowly combined: inscriptions enlighten the meaning of some elements, characters animate the epigraphic parts. The information about the death is put together in the inferior part, below the representation of the funeral. The body of the clerk is lying, characters, laics and clerks are praying and reflecting while the priest absolves. Then comes the indication of the name and the function of the dead, and the richest scene: Barthélémy is on his knees on the right attended with his two patrons, Barthélémy and Aignan, they look at the Virgin with the Child standing on the top of a stairs, surrounded by an angel holding an altar candle and saint-Martial rocking the censer.
On the extreme left, Saint Cyr and his mother Julite receive the martyr at the feet of the stair, in accordance to the legend. The protected saints of the dead act in his favor and assert their sacrifices and their virtues to his benefice. The Virgin impinges lightly to the superior part, a big Crucifixion below the cross. Around the crucified are represented Mary and John, then Longin on his knees, holding his hand to his eyes, and a soldier, probably the holder of a sponge. From the Christ dead to the humanity salvation will come the redemption of Barthélémy protected by the saints, on the day of his resurrection
(Source - Julien LOUIS / L’effigie funérairedans le royaume de France– Pays d’oïl –1134 – 1267)
Pilgrims and monks tombs
Knight tomb of the 13th - Maisonnisse Church
Tombs of Courteix church
Cemetery of Pallier church
Tomb of Soudeilles
Tombs of the Malval abbey
Topmb of the Papal Clément VI in the cloister of the cathedral of Tulle
ENAMELED LIMOUSIN TOMBS
The enameled tomb of Roger de Brosse dated of 1287.
At the end of the 13th century, the workshops of Limoges were specialized in the production of tombs of enameled cooper and golden on a wooden soul, monuments which were exported in the whole medieval Europe. On about fifty of these monumental work inventoried in the Corpus of southern enamels, only five survived today. The knight Roger de Brosse one, buried in the choir of the Cistercian abbey of Prébenoît (Creuse, Marche Limousine) destroyed during the French Revolution, was partially and recently discovered. Three enameled pieces decorated with arms have been found and identified by the author as parts of the tombs that escaped to the revolution destructions. During an archeological work opened between 1990 and 2000 and the abbey of Prébenoît, the archeologists found in the choir of the church the exact place of the tomb and updated other metallic pieces in golden cooper and enameled of the tomb
(Source - Aquitania 2008)
The funeral slab of Guy of Meyos (died in 1307) found on the site of the Templar command of Civray (Vienne) and today exhibited in the Louvre is a testimony of the production of the enameled funeral slabs.
The monument is not in stone but in copper, champlevé, graved, enameled, silvered and golden, so a luxurious realization, demonstration of a prestigious know-how of the limousine workshops. The text, in the inferior part includes the name, the day and the year of the death of Guy, his quality of funder and a pray, a quite common form so. The superior part, more important, presents the deceased on his knees, praying a standing saint, crown and dressed of a lily flower azure coat : it is one of the oldest representation of the king Louis as a saint. He reaches out his hand to Guy to support and welcome him in the chosen land.
(Source - Julien LOUIS / L’effigie funérairedans le royaume de France– Pays d’oïl –1134 – 1267)
TOMB OF "GOOD MARRIED" (Museum des Beaux Arts de Limoges)
These two married couple from the Poitou were going to Santiago de Compostella when, in Limoges the young lady died. His husband left alone to accomplish his vow and came back to die closed to his wife tomb who turned lightly on the side to leave a place for him. The attitude of the recumbent statues side to side figures this scene. It is here the theme of a legend known from the Constantin time with few variation of the details. The feet of the man lie on a lion, the women ones touch the dragon, symbol of temptation and the sin.
Comme from the Saint-Martial abbey of th 14th centuries :
« Passant, arreste-toi pour regarder ce lieu
Ce monument usé est dit : Bon Mariage.
Deux corps pleins de vertus, deux cœurs amis de Dieu
Que la mort a frappés en faisant son triage
Se reposent ici. Le Poitou les produict,
Galice les appelle et Lymoge y prétend.
Le ciel les met d'accord, pas un n'est esconduict.
La femme meurt icy sans aller plus avant ;
On lui fait un tombeau de grandeur coustumiere
Pour y serrer son corps. Cependant son mary,
Tout baigné dans ses pleurs, ne va point en arrière
Mais accomplit son vœu, et retournant guary
De ses douleurs de corps, le souvenir poignant
De sa perte revient et lui cause la mort.
Ce fut alors que Dieu se fit voir tout-puissant.
On ouvre le sépulchre, et sans aucun effort
L'espouse se retire assez pour qu'il ait place.
Pour apprendre aux conjoints a s'entr'aimer toujours
Afin qu'ayant vescu en la divine grâce
Ils puissent voir le ciel à la fin de leurs jours »
THE LIMOUSIN STONE OF THE DEAD
The term of « stone of the dead » is so defined in the Thesaurus of the architecture used in the ministry of Culture. We find some example of such pinnacles in the files realized by the services of inventory of the cultural heritage published online thanks to the Merimee and Palissy databases: these example are located in Bourgogne, Poitou-Charente, Centre, Pays-de-la-Loire and Limousin from the 13th to the 19th century and concern the stones located either close to a church or close to a cross along the paths. During the surveys realized in the areas of Boën and Montbrison for the service of the inventory of the cultural heritage of the region Rhône-Alpes, we found indeed lying stones in front of some crosses, cross said as the “altar”. The files concerning the area of Montbrison are actually redacted and indicated us that they were used to put the coffin on to take a resting time on the way to the church or the cemetery.
LANTERNS OF THE DEAD
We often find in the northern cemetery of Limousin buildings called communally « lantern of the dead ». Their implantation area is restrained to the areas of Saintonge and Limousin. If their role remains mysterious, they had a role in the liturgical ritual of the deceased. The lanterns, with the light they could give off are rich of a theological and eschatological way.
They represent a true spiritual protection or even a corporal one for the deceased and also for the living. Their implantation corresponds to an area where the cemetery has a long tradition of juridical protection, updated by the movement of Peace of God.
Searches of Manon DURIER on the limousins tombs
UNE DECOUVERTE INATTENDUE ...
Lors de fouilles à Limoges en 2005 on a trouvé la sépulture (époque carolingienne) d’un cerf domestique. Cet animal, équipé d’une sorte de mors, était sans doute destiné à servir d’appelant à la chasse. Des représentations de telles pratiques existent sur des mosaïques et des céramiques. Toutefois les découvertes archéologiques témoignant de ce type de chasse restent encore très rares.
"Le squelette du cerf gallo-romain découvert à Limoges en 2005 dévoile progressivement ses secrets. Tout d'abord, les investigations menées par les scientifiques de L'Inrap (Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives) confirment qu'il s'agit bien d'un animal domestiqué pour la chasse à l'appelant (voir notre édition du 17 février 2006). En d'autres termes, ce cerf était utilisé pour attirer ses congénères avant qu'ils ne soient abattus par d'adroits chasseurs.
Une telle trouvaille est très rare. « À notre connaissance, seulement six squelettes de cerfs appelants de cette époque ont été retrouvés en France, explique Christian Vallet. Et cet archéozoologue (archéologue spécialisé dans l'étude des ossements d'animaux) d'en ajouter un autre découvert en Allemagne.
Hadrien Montiny (responsable du chantier à l'origine de cette découverte limougeaude) confirme pour sa part que le squelette trouvé rue des S'urs-de-la-Rivière est dans un bon état, même si certains os sont cassés. « C'est un joli puzzle d'environ 200 os », précise ce scientifique de l'Inrap.
L'analyse des dents et des os de ce cerf, effectuée au Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle à Paris, permet aujourd'hui de mieux appréhender la vie de cet animal. « Il apparaît que ce cerf était sauvage jusqu'à l'âge de 3 ans. Ensuite, il est captif et se nourrit différemment, explique Christian Vallet. Il a vécu une douzaine d'années. C'est donc un vieux cerf qui a connu une longue période de servitude ».
Vertus prophylactiques ? Dans quel but utilsait-on cet animal ? « Pour attirer les autres cerfs et les chasser. La population mangeait leur viande et utilisait leurs bois pour en faire des outils. À cette époque, les gens considéraient que ces bois possédaient des vertus prophylactiques, poursuit Christian Vallet. Ils en mettaient autour du coup des animaux domestiques et humains pour se prémunir des maladies. Il y avait même des médaillons pour les légionnaires ». Qu'elle était sa place dans la ville ? « Comme il était enterré dans la maison, il devait être précieux pour son propriétaire. Il est gallo-romain du IIIe siècle »" (Article du Populaire)