A watering place on the English Channel, 16 km N of
Caen. The shore, which faces N, is bordered to the W
by a cliff about 8 m high, a headland known today as
Cap Romain. The Saint-Aubin promontory was occupied
well before the Romans came; various finds from the
Paleolithic Age to the Bronze Age are evidence of a very
ancient settlement. However, the site, which was covered by villas and hotels in the 19th c., was never systematically explored. During WW II a German soldier started excavations. The building of three blockhouses
permitted the ground to be opened up but at the same
time limited any real archaeological explorations. The
site was thoroughly excavated only in part and in the
face of great difficulties.
Below a cemetery of the Frankish period was a Gallic
fanum dating from the beginning of the 2d c., along
with its cult statue, as well as traces of an earlier
Celtic sanctuary, a late Gallo-Roman villa built around
the Gallic temple, and a bath building, perhaps belonging
to the villa.
The excavations revealed the foundations of a square
building 11 m on each side, surrounding a second structure, similar in shape but only 5 m on a side. The complex is oriented to the four points of the compass. The foundations are 0.7-0.9 m thick, and remains of a paved
stone floor are still visible. The monument is a small
temple similar to those in the Seine-Maritime. The only
evidence for the date is a sherd of terra sigillata dating
from the 2d c. A.D. To the E were some foundations,
probably of an annex to the fanum.
The N wall of the fanum was later split open to make
room for a well. Here, at a depth of 2.5-3.4 m, were
found five fragments of a statue of a seated goddess with
two children, one on either side; the statue is now at the
Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines at Caen.
Traces of a foundation trench oriented E-W were discovered under the Gallo-Roman fanum. Below the stone
floor of the Gallo-Roman temple were found some broken
foundation stones and a great quantity of charcoal. These
belonged to a structure earlier than the fanum; there is
no indication as to its purpose since the foundations were
destroyed when the fanum was built. However, the fact
that religious monuments tend to be erected in the same
places suggests that it is a very old religious building.
Whether the fanum was isolated or connected to a settlement we do not know.
A complex of structures was found near the sanctuary,
but they belong to the end of the 3d c. A.D.: a villa rustica
with two towers connected by a gallery, and with a great
hall in the rear. It was built in two stages: the first complex was put up in the second half of the 3d c., and it
was then that the well was added where the fragments
of the statue were found. Towards the end of the 4th c.
(as evidenced by coins of Constantine and Valerius) the
villa was completed by two symmetrical towers joined by
a gallery-facade. The foundations of the building, 11 m
square, were well built; portions of the vertical section
were still standing. The floor was paved with mosaic. Two
rectangular annexes containing furnaces have been uncovered to E and W. A paved pathway led from the bath
building to the well. Two apses were added to this complex, probably when the villa was redesigned at the end of the 4th c.
When the villa was destroyed (exact date unknown)
the site was not abandoned. The discovery of Merovingian
tombs in a number of places proves that it continued to
De Vesly, Les fana ou petits temples
gallo-romains de la région normande
(1909); E. Eblé,
“Découvertes à Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer,” Gallia
6, 2 (1948) 365-83PI
; H. Van Effenterre, “Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer,” ibid.
9 (1951) 83-84; R. Lantier, “Recherches Archéologiques
en Gaule en 1950,” ibid. 10 (1952) 119-20.