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BLASSIACUM or Blacciacum (Plassac) Gironde, Aquitaine, France.

The site is on the right bank of the Gironde, 9 km downstream from Le Bec d'Ambés and 3 km from Blaye (Blavia), the boundary of the civitas of the Bituriges Vivisci. Under Roman rule it was part of the pagus Blaviensis on the road from Burdigala to Talmont in the territory of the Santoni (Antonine Itinerary). It was a rural estate from the Late Empire to Merovingian times, at the foot of hillsides sloping to the river, with forests and vineyards nearby.

The last known proprietor in antiquity was the Merovingian deacon Waldo, who became Bertchramnus (Bertrand), bishop of Le Mans, 550-624 (cf. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc., passim). The poet Fortunatus dedicated a poem to him in his Book IX. His will, dictated on 27 March 616, cites the existence of this family estate, inherited from his mother, a Gallo-Roman from Bordeaux. The will was copied in the 9th c. in the abbey of Couture at Le Mans (Bibl. Mun. Mans, ms. 224, published in the Collection des Archives Hist. du Mans, pp. 98 to 141).

The site was often mentioned in the 19th c. and the mosaic which extends under the modern church was seen on several occasions up to 1939. Excavations were undertaken in 1962 and still are in progress; they now extend over ca. 0.5 ha. Test pits have led to the partial rediscovery of the mosaic previously mentioned: it has entwined roses and polychrome, geometric central motifs. In addition, the excavations have led to the discovery, in the N part, of 10 rooms, the NW wing of the villa urbana, over three recognized levels. They indicate the existence of an earlier villa of the Late Empire, destroyed in the 3d c.

The floors of five rooms are mosaic, all polychrome and geometric, covering ca. 100 sq m. Three rooms are over hypocausts with radiating channels. They are the end rooms of the master's house, which must have extended under the modern church and beyond in a rectangular plan. To the E and W along the wings there extended two covered galleries 80 m long, enclosing a garden court and going down to the river. On these galleries opened the rooms of the villa agraria. It had a bath with hypocausts with radiating channels and small square piers. Eighteen rooms served as working buildings. The galleries are bordered by small aqueducts emptied by two spouts, still in place, 7 m above the river. The whole abuts on the S side on massive 3d c. foundations (walls 1.1 m thick, of fine ashlar construction, plastered over and marked with scribed pointing). These foundations form a rectangle 12 x 8 m, and 3.2 m deep at the rear. They are flanked on each side by two parallel walls supporting galleries coming down from the N. At a lower level, facing the river, a concave wall of large radius and earlier date lies in the massive foundations. This last group is not a private house. After systematic filling, it was used in the 5th c. villa to support two tall buildings above the river, possibly a tower and portico.

Findings—pottery, coins (bronzes from Trajan to Gratian), artifacts for adornment of bone, bronze, etc.—are on exhibit on the site.


For Bertchramnus: L. Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux (1894)II; A. de Maillé, Origines chrétiennes de Bx (1959); C. Higonet, Hist. de Bx (1970) II.

For Plassac: Hachette, Guide Bleu s.v. Sud-Ouest; E. Marcel, Plassac à travers les âges Bx (1955); Reports of excavations of 1963-1969 in Gallia (1965—).


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