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.
V (1829-30) 1-52PI
; id., Les Monuments romains
(1838); A. Delalande, “Rapport sur les
fouilles de Valognes,” Mém. Soc. Antiq. Ndie
; 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
(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.
54 (1957-58) 384-95.
J. J. BERTAUX