Thursday, 13 August 2015

Théâtre gallo-romain des Bouchauds.

The Gallo-Roman "théâtre Les Bouchauds" is located near Saintes, in the small municipality of Saint-Cybardeaux in the Charente. We happened to see the sign while we were out driving one day and decided to explore! The construction of this amphitheatre began in the first century AD and overlooks the Via Agrippa, a very important Roman road  nearly 600 km long from west to east across France, between Saintes and Lyon. This road is one of the four major highways built by Agrippa, a Roman general charged by the Emperor Augustus to bring some order to the Gaul empire, which the Romans had conquered. Engineering on a massive scale!


The French are very good at preserving historical remains and putting up signage to explain to visitors the purpose of what they see in front of them. This sign gives an overview of the site, which consists of two sacred circles of stone, each containing two small temples, plus a huge amphitheatre, scooped out of the top of the hill, next to them. The sign also gives details of the visitor centre based in a farm just up the road, but as is the custom in France, it's closed from 12h00 to 15h00, so we weren't able to see it!

The smaller of the two stone circles, with the outlines of the two temples visible.

An artist's impression of what the site might have looked like when in use. It would have formed a very prominent statement in the landscape and been most visible to travellers on the Agrippan way below.

Foundations of the two larger stone temples in the other stone circle, visualised in the sign below. Each temple comprised a central room (the red brick), accessible only to servants of the Emperor, with a colonnade (gravel) all round, which was used for ritual ceremonies.

The artist's impression, bringing to life the meagre stone remains visible today!
The amazing amphitreatre, seating about 7000 people, was one of the most imposing to be found in rural Gaul at that time. Lots of earth to move, but I assume that the Romans organised the local people to do all the shovelling!

The arena and stage!

Yet another artist's impression! The amphitheatre was a gathering place for the local people to put on and spectate at events involving music and dance, (no lions here!) but promoting the Roman culture before anything else!

 It's quite a significant hill and a huff and puff to climb up from the car park on the other side, but this is the reward - the fabulous view north across the countryside! The weather conditions were thin cloud and humid, hence the lack of blue sky!

A 19th century engraving of the remains of a "fairy castle" at the rear left on the amphitheatre

All that remains of the "fairy castle" today!

Thanks Nigel for your research and help once more.



See also my daily Photo Diary Here


My Life Before Charente   - New post 13/08/2015

50 comments:

  1. So interesting.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Rick for the visit and the comment, much appreciated. Hope all is well in your part of the world. Diane

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  2. Two great discoveries, a fairy castle and an ancient amphitheater. I wonder if there are any production done in it today; probably not, it looks rather fragile.

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    1. Terra I have my doubt about productions, I am sure they would not want to break down any more of what is there and as you sat too fragile. It was a good discovery though for us as we had not been there before. Keep well Diane

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  3. Diane, what a lovely tour! Beautiful views, and I feel right at home with the French, because French is the language of Quebec! If you ever come to Montreal, (If you haven't already), you will feel right at home, as it is French here as well, and a fun and beautiful, friendly place with much to see and do. :)

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    1. Linda it would be great to come to Quebec but it will never happen, my husband's feet are a problem with flying and to travel first class to get over it is way out of out league. When we win the lottery we will fly around the world first class :-) Thanks for the comment and visiting. Have a good day Diane

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  4. Thank you for allowing me to discover this interesting ancient place. I visited Saintes briefly two years ago and really want to return to stay much longer. I was fascinated by all the Roman ruins there as well as the medieval churches.

    One question: what's the meaning of "Les Bouchauds"?

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    1. Hi Libbie and thanks for you visit and comment. So far as we are aware Les Bouchauds is just a name of the place and with no particular meaning. If you return to France you also want to see Cassinomagus at Chassenon, great Roman Ruins. If you go to the insert on the right of my blog with 'search my blog' and put in Chassenon you can read my write up there. Have a good weekend Diane

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  5. It's wonderful Diane. Those Romans could teach us a thing or two about building standards! I love Saintes. There is also a Roman amphitheatre right in town too isn't there? We went there a few times. It's above the old hospital I think. There are residential houses all around it - what a great neighbourhood to have a house in!
    http://www.historvius.com/roman-amphitheatre-saintes-510/

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    1. Craig we have not actually been into Saintes, something for us to look forward to. That is quite a spectacular photo on the link with the houses around it. Did you ever get to see Cassinomagus at Chassenon, that is the Roman Baths and it is in excellent condition. Sadly they have stopped digging by the sound of it as money is running low. I have done a couple of write ups on it on this blog. Hope your weekend is a good one Diane

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    2. I never went there Diane - mores the pity. So thank you for the cyber visit via your blog!

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    3. Craig it never ceases to amaze me the things that we find not far from home. After 10 years you would think we would have covered most things close by but it has not happened. Always new things for a new post!! Diane

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  6. The Romans certainly left their mark in France didn't they. I am constantly amazed at their genius for such an early time. I couldn't help but smile about their being closed.from 1200 to 1500. And I thought it was only in Provence... But I will definitely give the French credit for doing such an excellent job of preserving the past.
    Sam

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    1. Having been here for 10 years now Sam, I still forget that there is at least a 2 hour lunch break in France and many places are closed on a Monday including the banks!!! Have a good weekend Diane

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  7. What amazes me is that it seated 7,000 people back then! The Romans definitely knew how to design and build and the natural acoustics had to be great. It all just amazes me. Too bad the castle is gone. Have a fun weekend!

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    1. Pam I am so sorry that I hated history in school, must have been the teacher, as now I find it fascinating! You have a good weekend as well Diane

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  8. fascinating and love stumbling on places like this

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    1. Thanks Rebecca and yes we did literally stumble across this place! Have a good day Diane

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  9. That's what signs like this one are raised for...
    And you didn't regret the stop.
    A great place loaded with history! Our region too has a strong roman history and the largest roman villa ruins in France.
    Great footage, Diane.
    Keep well and enjoy what's left of summer!

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    1. Generally we see a sign and have not got time to stop, but as you say we did not regret this stop, and we did have spare time. I hope that summer will last another month, I hate the thought of being cold again!! Hope all is well there Diane

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  10. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could travel back in time and experience these amazing places first-hand. To sit in the theatre and enjoy a show or wander around the Sanctuaire. At least what is left has been preserved, so we can let our imagination take over x

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    1. Kerry I so often wish I had a time machine or even if walls and floors could talk. I love these old historic places and as you say if you let imagination take over..... A bientot Diane xx

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  11. Hi Diane .. wonderful photos and research .. giving us the background. Incredible to think all these buildings were built 2,000 years ago ... the Romans were amazing ... and I've been learning about our Roman heritage here ... as well as pre-history ... it's wonderful what can be found out now. I did not like history at school ... complete flunk ... but now - I love it ...

    I found this map of the Roman Roads - that might interest you and Nigel:
    http://www.omnesviae.org/#!iter_Agripina_Arelato

    Cheers and have a happy Sunday ... Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary for the kind comment and especially for the map. The latter is great and I will spend some time looking at the other places here as well. I also hated history at school, now I am sorry that I did not take it all in! I hope that you are well, take care Diane

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  12. I have just enjoyed a lovely catch up of your recent posts. You have so many interesting places to visit in your area, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Linda it amazes me how one can come across something like this not that far from home and for the past 10 years while here we did not know about it. So much to see and so little time :-) I hope you are well Diane xx

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  13. These ruins are set in such a beautiful area, seemingly out in the middle of no where. I enjoyed your post very much. I hope all is well.

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    1. Thanks Michel, the view from this spot was stunning. I am sure if the music and dance did not appeal the view would!. I hope all is well with you both. Diane

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  14. It must be quite eerie to be standing where ancient Romans once stood.

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    1. Yes Diane it is an odd feeling when you think what went on there many 100's of years ago. :-) Hope al is well t'other Diane

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  15. How inspiring, I'm writing about the Romans myself for my next post and this is a further reminder how far they traveled and how much of their very well built structures remain. When we are gone, out houses will be dust in 100 years. how sad!

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    1. I agree Deana, it is amazing what is preserved from so long ago. They certainly do not build things like that these days. Our house is over 200 years old and we think it is old but....... I hope all is well with you Diane

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  16. I did not know about this Roman theatre in Saint-Cybardeaux. You live in an area with so much history – it is great that you share it with us. Several Roman theatres in France have productions in summer – I think Vaison-la-Romaine does. It must be a lot of fun to visit these places.

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    1. Vagabonde we were not aware of the Roman remains here either. We just happened to be driving past when we saw the sign. Luckily it was a nice day and we had the pleasure of viewing it all on our own. There are so many historic sites nearby, we think we have seen them all but it seems not, they keep appearing! Hope you are both well Diane

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  17. Isn't it amazing to realize that you are looking at things which were constructed two thousand years ago?! The fact that we even know where Roman roads were is astonishing, much less that we are able to see not only roads, but parts of these massive structures. Thanks for the tour, Diane and Nigel.

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    1. Marjie it never ceases to amaze me the history that is all around us here in Europe. How I wish I had taken more in when I was at school!!!! Glad you enjoyed the tour, hope all is well Diane

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  18. I am once again impressed with the preservation.

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    1. Gaelyn it amazes me how things from so long ago are found and appear mostly to be in reasonable condition. Of course most gets some restoration to make them safe but even so. Have a good day Diane

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  19. Diane, This was a particularly interesting post. It was well thought out and informative, and the photographs were a great help in understanding the "then and now" of the Roman theater. You live in an area with such rich history. I'm so glad you share it with us. Hugs and blessings...Mary.

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    1. Thanks Mary, the history around here is just amazing and I wish I had paid more attention at school!! Take care Diane

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  20. Seeing your wonderful account of this amazing structure makes me wonder just how many two thousands year old structures (or even older!) there are in Western Europe! There must be hundreds that most of us have never heard of! Thank you, so much, for bringing this one to our attention.

    Have an excellent week - and don't be too busy! - - - -Ricihard

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    1. Richard the history in Europe is amazing, sadly i hated it all at school so i am now on a new learning curve :-) Life is hectic at the moment........ Winter may be a bit calmer and I can catch up. Keep well Diane

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  21. Hi there - whenever I see these kinds of 'ruins' I wonder what our shopping malls and brick houses will look like in a 1000 years time - pretty grim I imagine!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Well our house is over 200 years old and built with huge great stone walls so it has a chance, but all the new buildings I expect will end up in a mound of dust !! Hope all is well Diane

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  22. This is one of the things I love about Europe is you can find history everywhere. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Velva

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    1. Thanks Velva, Having lived in Africa most of my life, I thought a few hundred years old was old !!! I am learning so much about the history of Europe and even thousands of years is not so old :) Hope you are well Diane

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  23. What an interesting visit. These historic places always tweak my imagination. It's good that there are informative boards to tell you all about it. Glad there were no lions or gladiators! I'm back from France now but I still have some posts to update on my blog. Thanks for all your visits and lovely comments :) Maggie xx

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    1. Maggie I love following you, just wish I had more time to blog other than my photodiary which needs no research. Thankfully now my husband is here he enjoys the research so if I can only get my act together with the photos...... Keep well and we look forward to the next series of French posts. Diane x

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  24. I wish South Africans could be as good at preserving all our heritage sites

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    1. I have to agree with you there and there, and your heritage does not go back as far as it does in France. Diane

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