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Vicus of the civitas Tungrorum on the Bavai-Tongres road. The vicus has sometimes been identified with the Geminiacum of the Antonine Itinerary (378) and the Geminico vico of the Peutinger Table. However, the distances given by the two documents are contradictory. It is just as likely that Geminiacum was located at Baudecet. The vicus of the Early Empire was situated at the modern Les Bons Villers on either side of the Bavai-Tongres road. It is on a well-orientated plateau which dominates the surrounding region; it has a spring, now called La Fontaine des Turcs, which provides abundant water. The settlement must have grown up during the period of Augustus, when the road was built. The road was flanked on both sides by boundary ditches about 20 m from the middle of the road. These very probably were used to establish the land survey register. Later on these ditches no longer were preserved, at least inside the vicus itself. Inside the vicus some streets have been traced which were parallel and perpendicular to the road. The foundations of several dwellings have been brought to light, some made of fine masonry, some of wood and of wattle and daub. Some dwellings were provided with porticos facing the street. Several cellars have been excavated. The vicus had a certain number of wells, three of which have been excavated. The lower part of one was lined with wood and above this with calcareous stones placed on top of one another without mortar. The well was abandoned during the first invasions of the Franks in the 3d c. In it have been found a spearhead, the butt of a javelin, a boss of a shield, and a pair of leather sandals with six rows of nails in each sole. The potter's district was located in the E part of the vicus. To date five kilns have been excavated there. They are circular or oval in plan and have thick bottoms of terracotta pierced with holes. They had the rather exceptional diameter of 2.5 m. They were in use at the end of the 2d c. and the beginning of the 3d, producing large quantities of ordinary wares for daily use.

The talus of the spring of La Fontaine des Turcs was protected by a collection of horizontal beams and it was surrounded by a rather wide pavement. It may be safe to suggest that here was a small sanctuary dedicated to a native divinity of springs.

Not far away a vase was found on whose foot is a graffito reading MER(curio) ET APOL(lini), indicating that the vase was an offering to the two gods. Another sanctuary was located on the N outskirts of the vicus. In the middle of a rectangular enclosure (100 x 76 m) stood a fanum with a square cella, 13 m on a side. The fanum was surrounded by a peristyle with columns of white stone and an interior width of 4 m. Pieces of plasterwork with painted decoration in red, green, yellow, and white come from the interior decoration of the cella. A piece of an altar discovered in the foundations of the castellum of Brunehaut (see below) may come from this temple. In that case, it would have been dedicated to Jupiter. A hoard of 368 gold coins from Nero to Lucius Verus seems to have been buried some years after A.D. 166.

The large number of finds made at Liberchies attest to the prosperity of the vicus during the Early Empire. However, it was ravaged during the first invasions of the Franks in 253-55, as many traces of fire attest. Immediately after these invasions, the Roman authorities (probably the emperor Postumus) ordered the construction of a burgus straddling the roadway in the vicus itself. It formed a quadrilateral (66 x 80 m), surrounded by a moat 14 m wide. Inside the moat, ca. 2 m from the top, was a solid wooden palisade. Four m farther toward the interior of the fort, an earthen bank was erected. It was reinforced with stakes and supported a second palisade. If Liberchies is Geminiacum (see above), one may suppose that the Geminiacenses mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum (occ. 5.97; 246; 7.87) owed their name to the fact that they had been stationed as the garrison of this burgus. Nevertheless, the burgus was destroyed shortly afterwards, during the Frankish invasions of the year 268 or 275. A new castellum was built 2 km farther W at the hamlet of Brunehaut on a hillock protected to the N and E by swampy meadows. Thus, it occupied a much better strategic position than the preceding burgus. This new fortification was ca. 200 m square. It was surrounded on its S and W flanks by a moat 12 m wide and 4.5 m deep. The area thus protected was surrounded by a palisade. Under Constantine the structure of the castellum was changed and the palisades replaced by thick stone walls. This new fort (56.5 x 45 m) was much smaller than the earlier one. The corners were provided with big round towers jutting out from the ramparts. The foundations of the ramparts were made of blocks taken from the ruined buildings of the vicus (for example, the altar mentioned above). The ramparts themselves were 2.8 m thick. A rubble core drowned in yellow-brown mortar is pressed between two facings of small, white sandstone blocks. The cheek-piece of a helmet was found in a trench. East of the fort, between the wall and the swamp, was erected a small basilica-shaped building with an apse at one end. We do not know whether it was a bath building or a Christian sanctuary.


R. De Maeyer, De Overblijfselen van de Romeinsche Villa's in België (1940) 77-78; H. van de Weerd, Inleiding tot de Gallo-Romeinsche archeologie der Nederlanden (1944) 74-75; P. Claes & E. Milliau, “Liberchies-les Bons Villers,” Bull. de la Soc. royale belge d'anthropologie (1958) 67-74PI; Claes, “Les fossés-limites de la chaussée Bavai-Cologne dans la région de Liberchies,” Helinium 9 (1969) 138-50PI; Y. Graff, “Découverte d'un fortin romain aux Bons-Villers, Liberchies,” Documents et rapports de la soc. arch. de Charlerot 50 (1955-60) 41-63PI; B. Milliau, “Las monnaies romaines de Brunehaut-Liberchies,” Rev. de numismatique 109 (1963) 11-36; M. B. Mariën, Par la Chaussée Brunehaut (1967) 41-52PI; R. Brulet, “Essor commercial et développement économique du vicus de Liberchies,” Rev. des arch. et historiens d'Art de Louvain 2 (1969) 39-46; id., “Fossés d'époque augustéenne & Liberchies,” Documents et Rapports de la Soc. arch. de Charleroi 54 (1969) 43-54; M. Thirion, Le trésor de Liberchies (1972)MPI.


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