(Drevant) Cher, France.
village 2 km S of Saint Amand-Montron, on the Cher.
The river separates it from the La Groutte spur, which
was the site of a very large Campignian station; this was
succeeded in the Bronze Age by an oppidum that was
still inhabited in the Early Iron Age and probably in
the Late Iron Age.
The name Derventum comes from the Celtic dervos,
one of the words for oak. After Caesar's conquest the
settlement was probably transferred from the left to the
right bank of the Cher. In Imperial times Derventum
acquired a forum, a theater, and two sets of baths.
The forum is roughly square, 80 m on each side, and
surrounded by a portico 3 m wide that was covered with
tiles and had a concrete floor. The main entrance was in
the middle of the E portico, outside of which was a terrace 6 m wide, reached by a flight of steps opposite the
gateway giving onto the portico. The gateway had two
bays separated by a pier; the socket holes and bolt frames
are still visible. The S portico had three gateways to the
outside, on one level; only the middle one had a matching, vaulted entrance on the square.
At each of the four outer corners of the building was
a pavilion. The two framing the main facade on the E
side are rectangular and divided into several rooms. The
pavilion at the SE corner probably served essentially to
take the thrust of the structure since its rooms have
curved walls tangent to one another like the buttresses of
the theater (see below). The three rooms in the NE
pavilion have doors facing N. These two pavilions flanking the E portico gave the facade an appearance similar
to that of many villa facades. The two on the W face are
square; the S one, which is reached from the gallery,
contained a well. The N pavilion apparently had no
Towards the middle of the N half of the surrounding
wall was a temple. The cella was 7 m square with a gallery 3 m wide around it. The facade has two antae framing a flight of steps, and faces W. The orientation of the
temple wall is different from that of the forum enclosure.
The Theater of Drevant is one of the best preserved
of the rustic theaters of Gaul, because of the size of the
substructures supporting the cavea. The latter surrounds
a horseshoe-shaped orchestra with a podium 2.6 m high
around it. Encircling the outside of the cavea is a galleried passageway with seven vomitoria, three of which
descend to the praecinctio. The lower part of the structure is strongly supported by two trapezoidal masses
of masonry divided on the inside into vaulted galleries.
The stage is a rectangular building (20 x 5 m). Moderate
in dimensions (the greatest outer diameter is 85 m), this
monument is a theater-amphitheater, as the presence of
a podium proves.
Derventum had two, almost contiguous, bath buildings, between the theater and the forum. Hardly any
traces of them can be seen today, but the plans have
been recovered. The first (ca. 50 x 35 m) belongs to the
category of imperial bath buildings. Apparently there
was no natatio, unless it has not yet been located, but
the cella maxima, which opens onto two symmetrical
frigidaria, each with an apse on the exterior, can be
clearly made out, as well as the caldarium, which had
three pools. In the second bath building a smaller frigidarium and the tepidarium and caldarium are aligned on
one side of a vast porticoed courtyard. It has been suggested that these were double baths, intended for men
and women, but they might also be summer and winter
The nature of the Derventum settlement has been the
subject of much discussion, particularly as to whether
the large space surrounding the temple should be identified as a forum or as the temenos of a sanctuary. Derventum, however, may well belong to the series of conciliabula, the complexes at Sanxay, Tours Mirandes in
Poitou, Chassenon in Charente, Champlieu S of the
Forêt de Compiègne, and Genainville in Vexin, to mention only the best known. Derventum shows all the characteristics of this architectural family peculiar to central
and W Gaul. It is situated on the edge of the territory
of the Bituriges, in a wooded, damp area beside a river.
It contains typical urban monuments but no residential
settlement of any importance. We have a description of
a complex of this type in the inscription at Vendoeuvre
en Brenne, which shows that the nucleus of these complexes was in fact a forum. At both Sanxay and Tours
Mirandes the forum is of a type very common in Gaul,
and Augusta Rauracorum (Augst) has the best-preserved
example. The Forum of Derventum is of a less highly
developed type, like that of Champlieu.
Some scholars have taken the conciliabula to be pilgrimage sanctuaries. I would suggest, however, that they
may have been civic centers designed for a rural population of small landowners, and that they had been established from the Flavian period on in the outskirts of
cities, on the site of public meeting places which were
semi-sacred in character and dated back to the time of
independence. The Vendoeuvre en Brenne inscription referred to above contains the deed setting up one of these
conciliabula which was also a part of the city of the
A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine
II, 2 (1934) Archéologie du sol, 720-21; III, 1
(1958) L'urbanisme 359-62; II, 2, Ludi et circenses, 929-36; IV, 1 (1960) Monuments des eaux, 294-97.
G. C. PICARD