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VENDEUIL-CAPLY Canton of Breteuil, arrondissement of Clermont, Oise, France.

The field of ruins at Vendeuil-Caply, long known for surface discoveries, has been explored only since 1956. Aerial photography has indicated the outline of this vanished city, possibly Bratuspantium, which covered almost 130 ha.

The area immediately surrounding the site was occupied long before the Roman period. To the NE a group of Neolithic flint-extraction pits at the site known as Les Plantis at Hardivilliers has been excavated. To the S, several ritual circles from the Bronze Age have been discovered, and one excavated. Finally, the hill of Calmont, which overhangs the narrow valley of Saint-Denis through which a tributary of the Noye once flowed, has turned out to be the site of a Celtic oppidum of 60 ha, protected by a deep entrenchment on the N and E faces. On the other side of the valley Mt. Catelet was occupied by a Roman army camp of some 10 ha, all of whose structures (titulus, bracchia, vallum) have been identified by aerial photography. A sunken road led to the camp from a spring which furnished the necessary water. This camp is thought to be one of those established in the territory of the Bellovaci on the orders of Caesar after his return from Britain in 57 B.C., and the one from which Crassus set out to rejoin Caesar, who was quartered at Amiens (BGall. 5.46.1-2). This opinion has been strengthened by the excavation of entrenchments similar to those of the Roman camps of Alesia.

The town itself seems to date to the first decades of the 1st c. (Aretine ceramics). Many traces of dwellings have been found on the ground on both sides of the cardo and the decumanus, which intersected at a right angle. These streets are still partly traceable in the country roads crossing the site.

In the NW angle of the cardo and the decumanus a noticeable rise marks the site of a large theater, recently excavated. A peripheral wall 150 m long surrounded the central building, which had a diameter of 83 m; the first two radiating walls have also been found. Numerous remains of carvings with human figures and plant motifs have been recovered from a deep bed of land-fill in the center. The walls are 2 m high, and both the outer wall and that of the cavea have been reconstructed and strengthened. Like Lyon, the town had two theaters. The second, on the N side of Mt. Catelet, was smaller (diam. 73 m), and its construction necessitated considerable terracing. The upper tiers rested on land-fill and the lower ones were cut into the limestone.

There were also two temples and a bath complex. A residential quarter has been excavated and two cellars uncovered. One, with niched walls, has been preserved and can be visited.

This town of the civitas of the Bellovaci was linked to Amiens, Beauvais, and Senlis by a network of Roman roads which are still preserved. The city did not survive the catastrophes of the 3d c., and it was never rebuilt. The artifacts are at the Musée Municipal of Breteuil.


R. P. Noché & G. Dufour, “Fossés romains d'Alesia et fossés récemment découverts sur les Chatelets près de Breteuil sur Noye,” Celticum 6 (1962) 201-14; R. Agache, “Découverte aérienne de retranchements révélés aux abords du site présumé de Bratuspantium,” BSPF 109 (1962) 357-66; id., “Les retranchements romains de Folleville et des environs de Breteuil sur Noye,” Celticum 15 (1965) 139-45; G. Dufour, “Rencontre avec le site de Vendeuil Caply,” Celticum 9 (1963) 229-38; C. Pietri, “Informations,” Gallia 29, 2 (1971) 228.


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