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LYONS-LA-FORÊT Dept. Eure, France.

Situated 100 km W-NW of Paris and 32 km SE of Rouen. Since the 18th c. traces of the Roman occupation have been found in the lower section of the modern town close to the church (fragments of sculpture, columns, coins of the 2d c.).

From 1910 to 1969 ruins of a Gallo-Roman theater were excavated on the S side of the Lieure valley, at mid-slope, in the Bout de Bas quarter. The theater wall, which runs W-E, was uncovered over a 50 m length; originally it must have been 82 m long. Thirty m along its S face it is joined by the orchestra wall, which starts to curve from the 5th m. The scena, which is 12.30 x 4.10 m, extends from the great theater wall from the 34th to the 47th m. The wall surrounding the cavea has a doorway in its lower section; it is built up the hillside and curves to the E. This wall has been excavated to a length of 30 m.

The theater is rustic in construction. Building materials are of local origin (flint or chipped limestone blocks embedded in yellow mortar). The remains of plaster can still be seen on the inner faces of the walls. The floors of both the orchestra and the scena are of beaten earth, unpaved. The tiers most probably were cut in the earth of the hillside or made of wood. The theater appears to have been built some time in the 1st or late 2d c., then reused as a farm or country house. Sigillate ware from Lezoux, and everyday pottery in the 2d c. style have been found on the site; also bronze, enameled peacock's tail fibulae (3d c.), writing styli, and a small bronze plaque with inscriptions and the figure of a god (Sucellus?). Coins range from Trajan to Valens. Six newborn-infants' tombs were discovered in the floor of the orchestra and scena; one of them contained a glass oil flask, another a coin of Constantine II. Many food remains were also found there. This theater can still be seen; it is in the process of being excavated. The objects found there are kept at Lyons-la-Forêt. Remains of Gallo-Roman dwellings have also been uncovered in the same part of the city, opposite the church.

In the Lyons section 3 km to the S, in Forêt de Lyons (Canton du Gouffre), a 2d c. dwelling with hypocaust was excavated from 1951 to 1954. Scattered over a 1-ha area around it is a large quantity of everyday pottery of the 2d c., gray or pinkish, suggesting that there was a potter's workshop in the area and that the excavated house was his.

In Forêt de Lyons (Canton du Robinet Cuit) a treasure store of 1st and 2d c. coins was found at the end of the 19th c. The collection is at the Musée des Antiquités de Rouen.


M. A. Dollfus, “Etude arch. du Canton de Lyons la Forêt,” Bull. Soc. Normande d'études préhist. 25 (1922-24) 126-48; id., “Découverte d'habitat gallo-romain à Lyons la Forêt (Eure),” Rev. des Stés sav. de Haute Normandie, 2 (1956) 41-46; id., “Découverte d'un balnéaire gallo-romain au canton du Gouffre en Forêt de Lyons,” Bull. Soc. Normande d'études préhist., vol. 37.2, pp. 34-37; id., “Compte rendu des fouilles gallo-romaines du quartiér du Bout de Bas à Lyons la Forêt,” ibid., 39.2 (1968) 72-75; id., “Le Théatre gallo-romain de Lyons la Forêt,” Sté Nationale des Antiquaires de France (March 1970); Dollfus & A. Guyot, “Sepultures de nouveau-nés dans les fouilles de Fleurheim à Lyons la Forêt,” Annales de Normandie 18e année 4 (1968) 283-300M.


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