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VERTILLUM (Vertault) Côte-d'Or, France.

Located 20 km NW of Châtillon-sur-Seine, the Gallo-Roman town of Vertillum is situated on a spur of a plateau on the site of a Celtic oppidum of promontory fort type. The Gallo-Roman built-up area covers about 25 ha and has been known since 1651. Excavations were conducted from 1846 to 1853 and from 1882 to 1940.

The spur on which the town stood is enclosed by a wall of murus gallicus type with wooden posts. It merely served to hold back earth and to set the boundaries of the city established after the conquest. The town was oblong in shape and was built according to an irregular plan. Several districts were separated by paved streets whose width varied from 3 to 8 m. The main artery, 350 m long, was orientated NW-SE. The forum was located approximately in the middle of the city. It was bordered to the E by a series of shops, to the N by a portico, and to the S by another portico and a temple. It had an area of more than 1 ha, out of proportion with the size of the town.

The density of the built-up areas is extremely variable. To the W, near the end of the spur, dwellings are spaced out and one finds numerous remains of the workshops of smelters and bronze-workers. Cellars are very well built with carefully pointed walls. They may have been used as winter quarters since the climate in this region is harsh. Heating was particularly well worked out. There are many fireplaces with round hearths as well as hypocausts with small pillars.

The baths occupied more than 600 m sq. and represent the most notable and complete building on the site. However, we have yet to solve the problem of their water supply, which is posed by the baths' location on a spur with no known water sources. Many pits, 3 to 8 m deep, have been excavated, but they were rubbish pits, meant to receive sewage and garbage.

A building located at the very center of the town may be considered a temple. It was a parallelogram in shape. Its S facade was fronted by a colonnade. Several hemicycles or apses were set up at the back of the building.

The systematic exploration of the site has produced a considerable number of various artifacts, statues, inscriptions (the most important of which gives the name of the site), tools, instruments. As far as the pottery is concerned, one should note the relative abundance of products of the Arezzo workshops. This attests to the prosperity of this settlement from the start of the 1st c. A.D. on.

The town underwent two destructions. The first can be dated to about 276, at the time of the great invasion. It was rebuilt and survived until the beginning of the 5th c. The most recent coins collected were of Honorius (395-423). Then the ruined town was completely abandoned and the modern village of Vertault was set up at the foot of the promontory. At present, no ancient remains can be seen on the site, since the excavations were filled in as they proceeded.

The artifacts collected before 1882 are to be found in the Musée Archéologique at Dijon. Those found in later investigations are in the Musée Municipal at Châtillon-sur-Seine.


Mignard & Coutant, Fouilles de Landunum près de Vertault (Côte d'Or), Mém. de la Comm. des Ant. de la Côte d'Or (1856) IV; H. Lorimy, “Vertillum—Vicus Vertillensis,” Pro Nervia 3 (1927); id., “Inscriptions céramiques gallo-romaines conservées au Musée de Châtillon-sur-Seine,” Bull. Arch. (1926); R. Joffroy & R. Paris, “La Verre à Vertillum,” Bull. de la Soc. Arch. du Châtillonnais 3 (1950-51); Joffroy, “Catalogue des lampes recueilles à Vertillum,” Bull. de la Soc. Arch. du Châtillonnais 8 (1956).


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