after the estate of a 4th c. Gallo-Roman landowner,
Vercellacus, but the site undoubtedly dates from before
that time. It was a market, overlooking the vineyards
and standing at the junction of two main roads.
A Temple of Bacchus lies under the church of St.
Etienne (noted in 17th c. archives), but the visible traces
of Roman occupation are on the wooded plateaus SW
of the city (Forêt des Ferrières, Forêt du Crot au Port).
In 1960 the first elements of a Gallo-Roman ironworks
were uncovered, dating from the 2d c. A.D. Vézelay lies
in the middle of a vast region (including parts of the
modern departments of Aube, Loiret, Nièvre, and Côte
d'Or) where the Romans extracted iron ore, goetite, and
limonite, not far below ground (2-7 m) in the Eocene
silts. Traces of this activity abound: the slag heaps,
mounds of molten metal scraps which contain 10,000-80,000 metric tons, are still rich in iron (20-40 percent). There are roughly 2000 pits (round holes 4-6 m in diameter and 5-7 m deep) over a 6 ha stretch in the area
known as Les Ferrières. One of the places where the ore
was washed was easily located, but the smelting areas
and batteries of ovens have been difficult to pinpoint.
Each district had its own pits, its apparatus for washing the ore, and its own ovens and slag heaps, as well as
its own administrative manpower and slave labor. In the
district of Crot au Port the administrator's villa and a
fanum have been excavated. The villa (20 x 25 m), in
the Pompeian style, consists of a paved porch, two lateral rooms (one with a cellar), and an inner courtyard with three adjoining rooms, one of which has a hypocaust. Some frescos and stuccos were found in this room.
The house was built at the end of the 1st c. A.D. on a
leveled slag heap.
The fanum (4 x 4 m) stands on a small hillock overlooking the crossing of two roads (one links the Yonne and Cure rivers, the other runs from the ironworks to the baths of Fontaines Salées). A carved altar stone dedicated to Mercury and a bronze statuette of the same
god have been found there; they point to Mercury as the
protector of miners.
The ironworks apparently ceased to function at the end
of the 2d c. A.D. and both villa and fanum were burnt
Another important discovery is that of the wooden
structure (a fixed table) for washing the ore, in a pond
used for the purpose in the Ferrières district. It is a
unique piece. The wooden elements, 3-6 m long, are remarkable examples of the carpenter's skill.
This is the first complete example of Gallo-Roman
ironworks. The collection of finds is at Vézelay.
R. Louis, Les fouilles gallo-romaines de
(1937); R. Dauvergne, Sources minérales,
thermes, et occupation du sol aux
” (1944); B. Lacroix, Un sanctuaire de source circulaire aux
” (1963); id., Les origines protohistoriques et gallo-romaines de Vézelay
(1963); id., Une installation artisanale aux
” (1965); id., Les “Fontaines Salées
” à l'aube de l'âge du fer
id., “Une piscine du Ier S.,” Echo d'Auxerre
Dieux gaulois et romains de la vallée de la Cure
J. M. SIMON