Location: Issac, France
2014 will begin what is estimated to be a 20 year project in the Leymonie valley located in Issac, France. The site is a 25 acre parcel upon which sits the medieval Castle of Leymonie. The property and project is private, working with DRAC (Regional Department of Cultural Affairs) in France. The 2014 dig encompasses the excavation of a chapel destroyed during the French Religious War in 1591 and the floor of a cuvee where a 12th century kiln used for firing ceramics has been discovered underneath the floor. These two dig sites at the castle, start a 20 year project as the property, is ground-zero for a much larger scale archaeological operation.
Satellite imagery analysis of this site has revealed so far, at least 25 structures that lie buried beneath the fields just outside of the castle walls. Further investigation has revealed nearly another 50 structures that continue on in the adjoining farm fields. The discovery of this large village site is significant due to its size and that, it is has never been recorded by any government or archaeological survey to date.
To add yet more mystery to this site, there is no record from either the medieval or renaissance periods of any village existing outside the castle walls. However, it has always been handed down through oral history of this area, that Castle Leymonie was built atop a Gallo-Roman site. Indeed, Julius Caesar himself was camped just 25 km. away in Perigueux around 54 B.C. which later became the Roman city of Vesuna and a still visible Roman road lies just 3 km. away along the banks of the L’isle River. Is the village buried just outside the walls of Castle Leymonie a Gallo-Roman village? Some teasers of this possibility have been some 5cm thick (non-medieval) terracotta brick-tiles found in rubble including a terracotta beveled piece that indeed are typical of Gallo-Roman construction. The fill dirt used for this rubble inside the castle walls is believed to have come from very close by, most likely just outside the walls. Two of the identified structure sites outside the walls have revealed a firepit and trash midden, both showing signs of long term habitation. So far, a piece of ceramic from one of these sites has been dated by a laboratory to be between 2nd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. For more information about this extraordinary dig site, you are encouraged to visit the web sites of Castle Leymonie or Dig France.
Because this project is private, it does not get government funding. The Leymonie Archaeological Project is a non-profit organization and gets its funding for this project by offering vacation packages to participants through “Dig France.” It offers a unique opportunity to be part of a very exciting project as well as to visit other exciting places in France on weekends including neighboring medieval and Gallo-Roman sites. It is asked that you please pass this information along to anyone who might be interested in participating in this dig for 2014.
Period(s) of Occupation: Medieval
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks preferred
Room and Board Arrangements
Academic CreditNumber of credits offered: none