or Laburdum (Bayonne) Pyrénées Atlantiques, France.
The origins of Lapurdum are
still unknown. At the end of the 4th (?) or the beginning
of the 5th c. A.D. (?) the Notitia Dignitatum
refers to Lapurdum as the residence of the Tribunus
cohortis Novempopulaniae. Sidonius Apollinaris (Epist
8.12.7) mentions it in the 5th c., and in 587 the site is
designated as a civitas in Gregory of Tours text of the
Treaty of Andelot between Gontran and Childebert II
The ancient site stood on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Nive and the Adour and was ringed by
a rampart probably erected during the 4th c. (?). Originally the rampart, a few towers and some wall sections
of which are still standing, formed a more or less quadrangular polygon ca. 1120 m in perimeter. It is a masonry wall ca. 3 m thick, with facings of cubes of stone
intersected by bands of stones cut to the size of bricks.
This use of stone in place of the brick is fairly rare in
this type of construction. The other peculiarity of this
rampart is that apparently no earlier architectural fragments went into the building of it, as is the case in most
of the Gallic ramparts built in the Late Empire. The
wall is flanked at the corners and at irregular intervals
on its perimeter by half-projecting round towers; it seems
to have had three main gates.
No remains of ancient houses have been revealed in
recent excavations inside the walls, and only a few potsherds have been found to indicate that the site was first
occupied no earlier than the 4th c. A.D. Although ancient
coins found here and there in the substratum may argue
in favor of an earlier original settlement, there is every
reason to believe that this settlement was extremely
small. The absence of any reused fragments in the building of the wall is to some extent evidence that Lapurdum, founded at a late period, was in the Late Empire
a fortress rather than a true city with a municipal and
J. E. Dufourcet & G. Camiade, “Bayonne, notice historique et archéologique,” Aquitaine historique et monumentale
, III (1897) 1-72; Blaÿ de Gaïx,
Histoire militaire de Bayonne
2 vols. (1899-1908); C.
Jullian, “L'origine de Bayonne,” REA
7 (1905) 147-54;
A. Blanchet, Les enceintes romaines de la Gaule
192-94; E. Lambert, “Bayonne, enceintes et châteaux,”
Congrès archéologique de France, CIIème session, Bordeaux-Bayonne 1939 (1941) 506-14.
J. L. TOBIE