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L'ECLUSE Canton of Céret, Pyrénées-Orientales, France.

Imposing fortifications of the Late Empire, now covered with vegetation. They stand on either side of the L'Ecluse defile, which is the only route leading to the Perthus pass—the lowest of the E Pyrenees—and the route of the great Roman road that joined Gaul with Spain. The structures, large, strong, and preserved to a relatively great height, consist of curtainwalls, towers, barracks, and a cistern. They extend on the E side of the valley (right bank of the Rom) to the hamlet of L'Ecluse-Haute, and on the left bank to the hill called Château des Maures. The road, which is cut into the rock, follows the bottom of the defile, skirting the stream. At the fortified point it cuts between two walls which are designed to carry portcullises to block it. Recent soundings in some of these structures have uncovered ceramics characteristic of the Late Empire. This fortified ensemble (clausurae), which was placed at the easiest place to watch and defend (not at the Perthus pass itself but at the last mountainous passage before the plain of Roussillon), was intended to control the passage of travelers, impose tariffs on merchants, and even check the advance of invaders. Efforts were made here to prevent passage during the troubled times of the Late Empire and the Early Middle Ages.


E. Espérandieu, Répertoire archéologique des Pyrénées-Orientales (1936) 34; “Informations,” Gallia 22 (1964) 473; 24 (1966) 449I; 27 (1969) 381.


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