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CASSEL Pas de Calais, France.

In the arrondissement of Dunkirk; chief town in the canton. Historians in the 18th and 19th c. long debated whether Cassel was the capital of the civitas of the Morini or of the Menapii. It is now acknowledged that Cassel, situated beyond the Aa (the river bounding the city of the Morini) was in fact the chief city of the civitas Menapiorum. It is often mentioned in the ancient itineraries of Tournai and Cologne. Few traces of the ancient city have been located, but the richness of the chance finds leads one to suppose that it was an important place: a bronze equestrian statue, a bust of Galba, also in bronze. Three ancient roads that do not appear in contemporary guides can still be seen on the terrain: the road from Cassel to Thiennes (on the Lys) and two going from Cassel to the North Sea, possibly toward the salty marshlands (we know how important the salt industry was for the Morini and the Atrebates).

The events of the 3d c. were to be fatal for Cassel. A rampart stands atop the city, a few traces of which were discovered in the 19th c. Cassel was superseded as capital of the Menapii by Tournai after Gaul was reorganized under Diocletian and Constantine. The civitas Menapiorum became the civitas Turnencensium.


A. Schayes, “Mémoire sur le Castellum Morinorum,” Mem. de la Soc. Acad. de Morinie 2 (1835) 133-34; M. de Symtere, “Memoire sur Cassel,” Congrès arch. de France, Session de Dunkerque (1861) 180-241; E. Cantineau-Cortyl, “Notes archéologiques et déductions historiques à propos des constructions découvertes et des terrains reconnus pendant les travaux exécutés en avril 1904 dans la partie Est de la butte du Castellum,” Bulletin de la Commission Historique du Nord 26 (1904) 217-22; E. Espérandieu, Recueil général des bas reliefs . . . (1907-55) v, no. 3975; E. Will, “Le sel des Morins et des Ménapiens,” Mélanges Grenier (1962) 1649-57.


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