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ALAUNA Commune Valognes, Dept. Manche, France.

The city is situated to the N of the peninsula of Cotentin, on a route used by tin traders and in the heart of the territory belonging to the Gallic people called the Unelli, for whom it perhaps served as a capital. Alauna is mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary and in the Peutinger Table. The coins found there run from Domitian to Maximus Magnus. Destruction is attributed to Victor, son of Maximus, at the time of his retreat toward Britanny (A.D. 388). There is an echo of the word Alauna in the present parish of Notre Dame d'Alleaume, a rural quarter of Valognes.

The site was excavated at the very end of the 17th c., but the most extensive excavations came in the first half of the 19th. Further digging was done in 1954.

No indisputable trace of fortifications has been found although the present place-name, Le Câtelet, has given rise to the hypothesis of a castellum. The settlement was composed of insulae built of wood and clay on stone foundations often without mortar. Some villas, more or less distant from the center of the city, have been located.

Monumental remains are few and in bad repair, as the ruins served as a source for stone by later builders. A wall 50 m long, near which the ruins of a column have been found, belongs to a structure not yet identified.

The ruins of the baths called at present Vieux Château, partially destroyed in 1773, are well known through a survey made in 1765, the accuracy of which was borne out by work done in 1954. Another survey published in the 18th c. is actually a plan of the baths at Vieux (Aragenua). This may have led to the incorrect assumption that there were no baths at Alauna. From these, oriented E-NE—W-SW, five rooms have been fully excavated. One of them housed a circular bath heated by hypocaust. The walls are made of rubble between two facings of small stones, the frames of the bays being alternately of brick and stone. Water was supplied by an underground aqueduct fed by a spring at the Câtelet, where a man-made cistern regulated the flow.

The theater was situated at the easternmost point of the city, 800 m from the baths. It is located in a natural hollow but additional earth was necessary to make the W part. Part of the outside wall still exists. The masonry stands on foundations of dry stone. The interior of the theater consisted of a pulpitum smaller than the proscenium, the orchestra, two maeniana separated by walls and aisles, and an upper gallery. Spectators entered by stairways. The theater held about 3700 people. In the center of the orchestra was a drain covered by a flagstone slab. The only decorative object found was a limestone candelabra (Cherbourg museum). No statuary has been found.


C. de Gerville, “Recherches sur les villes et les voies romaines du Cotentin,” Mém. Soc. Antiq. Ndie V (1829-30) 1-52PI; id., Les Monuments romains d'Alleaune (1838); A. Delalande, “Rapport sur les fouilles de Valognes,” Mém. Soc. Antiq. Ndie XIV (1844) 317-31PI; A. de Caumont, “Notes additionnelles sur les ruines de quelques théâtres gallo-romains,” Bull. Monumental 38 (1862) 410-18; Lemarquand, “Exploration des sources du Câtelet,” Bull. Soc. Arch. de Valognes 6 (1900-1903) 45-51; C. Birette, “Contribution à l'histoire de Valognes. Ie partie: De la préhistoire au moyen âge,” Annuaire des 5 dépts de Normandie XCIII (1926) 229-85; A. Grenier, “Les thermes de Valognes n'existent pas,” Pays Bas-Normand 46 (1953) 2-4; J. Macé, “Les ruines antiques d'Alauna prés de Valognes,” Bull. Soc. Antiq. Ndie 54 (1957-58) 384-95.


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