(Elne) Pyrénés-Orientales, France.
Iberian oppidum built on an isolated butte in the
plain of Roussillon, near the coastal river Iliberis (Strab.
), now the Tech, at the foot of the Albère Massif.
The importance and prosperity of the town is said to
have declined under the early Empire (Plin. 3.32
under Constantine it regained its role as a fortified place
guarding the principal routes across the E Pyrenees. At
this time it took the name of Castrum Helenae (Elne)
in honor of the mother of Constantine. It was the see
of a diocese from the 6th c. on.
The ancient settlement is directly under the mediaeval
and modern town, and there is evidence of continuous
human occupation since the 6th c. B.C. Recent emergency
excavation has uncovered modest structures and pre-Roman storage pits in the upper town, and in the lower
town a necropolis of the Early Christian era. The archaeological artifacts are preserved nearby in a museum
in the cathedral buildings.
E. Espérandieu, Répertoire archéologique des Pyrénées-Orientales
(1936) 28-29; “Informations,” Gallia
20 (1962) 611; 22 (1964) 473; 29 (1971)