VENDOEUVRES EN BRENNE
A small village of N Bas Berry 25 km W of Chateauroux, at the N edge of the pond country known as the
Brenne and NW of the Forê de Lancosme. In antiquity
it was part of the march between the territory of the
Bituriges and that of the Turones and Pictones.
No ruins are clearly visible at Vendoeuvres, whose
name is Gallic in origin and comes from Vindobriga,
apparently meaning white fort. However, traces discovered there show that it was once a Gallo-Roman center of major importance.
An inscription is preserved in the Chateauroux museum. The text should be compared with a number of inscriptions in the region, in particular some dedications of Néris and that of the theater at Tours Mirandes.
It indicates that the city had a forum, several basilicas,
some baths, and offices (diribitoria) grouped around a
temple and erected by a number of distinguished citizens,
former duumviri, and flamines of the Bituriges. Complexes of this type are probably conciliabula, ca. 40 are
known, the most remarkable being at Sanxay and Tours
Mirandes in the territory of the Pictones, at Champlieu
(the Silvanectes), and Genainville (the Veliocasses).
There is another belonging to the Bituriges at Derventum.
An altar now in the church at Vendoeuvres is decorated on each of its four sides with a bas-relief framed
by pilasters; the upper part of the altar is ornamented
with a listel. On the main face of the listel is the dedicatory inscription, at the beginning of which the word num[ini] can be made out followed by the name of the dedicator, Martia. The carved relief beneath it shows the
emblems of Apollo: the Delphic tripod, bow, and quiver,
as well as an unidentified bell-shaped object and a garland. On the opposite side are two joined hands, the familiar symbol of Pax, Fides, or Concordia, with below them a garland. The right side has a bunch of acanthus
at the foot and three figures above it: a goddess, seated
and nursing a baby, and a winged figure holding two
wands. The fourth side shows two billing doves.
Another relief with a religious subject is preserved at
Chateauroux. It shows a crouching god, wearing a sagum;
he holds between his legs a large round object, and has
two antlers on his head, the tines are held by two putti
standing on either side above some large snakes. This is
the well-known Celtic god whose main name, Cernunnos,
appears on the Nautes pillar in Paris and whose image
appears on several documents, some of them dating from
before Caesar's conquest. Cernunnos is essentially a
chthonic god, a dispenser of riches. His image here is
remarkable chiefly for its baroque character, showing the
influence of Hellenistic sculpture. The figures accompanying him occupy the place that Apollo and Mercury hold
at Reims; they are worshipers (the one on the right is
holding a crown which he is about to place on the antlers
of the god), but they are also symbols of Cernunnos'
manifold power, power which Celtic art proper expresses
by giving the god more than one face. The altar and bas-relief may be dated from the end of the 2d c.
XIII, 11151 = Dessau 9361; cf.
XIII, 1376-77, and Mirandes, Gallia
G. C. PICARD