Stunning find of ancient Gallo-Roman villa in France

Archaeologists discovered a large Gallo-Roman villa with thermal baths in Langrolay-sur-Rance, north-western France. The villa is said to be preserved in exceptional condition.

The villa (by Emmanuelle Collado, Hervé Paitier & Inrap)
The villa (by Emmanuelle Collado, Hervé Paitier & Inrap)

The villa consists of several buildings built on an U-shaped plan and covers around 1500 square metres. One exceptional part of the villa consists of a bath complex with both heated and cold water tubs. The residential part of the complex has an adjacent building that may have been used as a stable. The internal open space of the villa was probably laid out with gardens, typical for Roman villas. According to the archaeologists of Inrap – Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives, the villa functioned between 1st and 4th centuries AD.

The excavations of the baths (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)
The excavations of the baths (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)

The villa is located along the river Rance and probably served as a residence for a noble family, in ancient times half a day’s drive from the city of Fanum Martis, present Corseul. The bath area of the villa covers around approximately 400 square metres.  Once nude in the locker room, the inhabitants followed a gallery leading to a footbath, before reaching the two cold and hot pools. Once bathed, they join the caldarium, the hottest room equipped with a hot water bath and a sauna. They then go to the warm rooms to wash and be massaged. They finished their journey by a cold bath in the frigidarium.

The cold pool (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)
The hot pool (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)

The walls and ceilings of the bath are said to be exceptionally preserved and were adorned with paintings and coated with incrustations of shells, characteristic for the region of Armorique.

The cold pool (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)
The cold pool (by Bastien Simier & Inrap)

Among the small finds during the excavations of the villa is a number of personal objects such as a strigil – a scraper used to clean the skin from dust, fibulae, pins and fragments of bronze and copper alloy, a bronze key possibly from a cabinet lock and an iron key. Roman coins dating to between 2nd and 4th century were also found, that were minted in Trier.

A bronze strigil (by Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)
A bronze strigil (by Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)
A bronze key (Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)
A bronze key (Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)
2ndm 3rd and 4th century Roman coins struck in Trier (Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)
2ndm 3rd and 4th century Roman coins struck in Trier (Emmanuelle Collado & Inrap)

(after Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives, Bastien Simier, Hervé Paitier & Emmanuelle Collado)

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