or Blacciacum (Plassac) Gironde, Aquitaine, France.
The site is on the right bank of the
Gironde, 9 km downstream from Le Bec d'Ambés and
3 km from Blaye (Blavia), the boundary of the civitas of
the Bituriges Vivisci. Under Roman rule it was part of
the pagus Blaviensis on the road from Burdigala to Talmont in the territory of the Santoni (Antonine Itinerary
It was a rural estate from the Late Empire to Merovingian times, at the foot of hillsides sloping to the river, with forests and vineyards nearby.
The last known proprietor in antiquity was the Merovingian deacon Waldo, who became Bertchramnus (Bertrand), bishop of Le Mans, 550-624 (cf. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc
., passim). The poet Fortunatus dedicated a poem to him in his Book IX. His will, dictated
on 27 March 616, cites the existence of this family estate,
inherited from his mother, a Gallo-Roman from Bordeaux. The will was copied in the 9th c. in the abbey of
Couture at Le Mans (Bibl. Mun. Mans, ms. 224, published in the Collection des Archives Hist. du Mans
, pp. 98 to 141).
The site was often mentioned in the 19th c. and the
mosaic which extends under the modern church was
seen on several occasions up to 1939. Excavations were
undertaken in 1962 and still are in progress; they now
extend over ca. 0.5 ha. Test pits have led to the partial
rediscovery of the mosaic previously mentioned: it has
entwined roses and polychrome, geometric central motifs. In addition, the excavations have led to the discovery, in the N part, of 10 rooms, the NW wing of the villa urbana, over three recognized levels. They indicate
the existence of an earlier villa of the Late Empire, destroyed in the 3d c.
The floors of five rooms are mosaic, all polychrome
and geometric, covering ca. 100 sq m. Three rooms are
over hypocausts with radiating channels. They are the
end rooms of the master's house, which must have extended under the modern church and beyond in a rectangular plan. To the E and W along the wings there
extended two covered galleries 80 m long, enclosing a
garden court and going down to the river. On these
galleries opened the rooms of the villa agraria. It had
a bath with hypocausts with radiating channels and
small square piers. Eighteen rooms served as working
buildings. The galleries are bordered by small aqueducts emptied by two spouts, still in place, 7 m above
the river. The whole abuts on the S side on massive
3d c. foundations (walls 1.1 m thick, of fine ashlar
construction, plastered over and marked with scribed
pointing). These foundations form a rectangle 12 x 8 m,
and 3.2 m deep at the rear. They are flanked on each
side by two parallel walls supporting galleries coming
down from the N. At a lower level, facing the river, a
concave wall of large radius and earlier date lies in the
massive foundations. This last group is not a private
house. After systematic filling, it was used in the 5th c.
villa to support two tall buildings above the river, possibly a tower and portico.
Findings—pottery, coins (bronzes from Trajan to
Gratian), artifacts for adornment of bone, bronze, etc.—are on exhibit on the site.
For Bertchramnus: L. Duchesne,
(1894)II; A. de Maillé, Origines
chrétiennes de Bx
(1959); C. Higonet, Hist. de Bx
For Plassac: Hachette, Guide Bleu
E. Marcel, Plassac à travers les âges Bx
of excavations of 1963-1969 in Gallia