(Limoges) Haute-Vienne, France.
Capital of one of the largest
cities of Roman Gaul, the Civitas Leinovicum, in the
province of Aquitania. In the Gallic period an oppidum,
hypothetically situated on the Puy Saint-Étienne, dominated a ford or ritos on the Vienne; hence the name
given to the Augustan city. The first Gallo-Roman city
was built on the right bank of the Vienne, on a hillside
facing S. Its buildings were erected on terraced levels
and aligned on a grid plan.
The cardo ran NW with a 35° decline; it is represented
by the axis of the modern Rue Saint-Martial and Rue de
l'Hôpital. A bridge spanned the river at the beginning
of the cardo. It was destroyed in 1182 and soon rebuilt on
the ancient piles; this is the present Pont Saint-Martial.
The route to Périgueux and Cahors ran S from the
bridge, and the Agrippan Road from Lyon to Saintes
cut across the city from E to W. Whether the forum was
near what is now the Hôtel de Ville is still conjectural.
In Augustan times a theater stood on the lower part
of the hillside not far from the river, E of the cardo. Its
seats took advantage of the natural slope and faced S.
No visible traces of this monument remain.
In the 2d c., its period of greatest expansion, the
settlement spread out over a roughly equilateral triangle
1500 m on each side; its base was formed by the Vienne,
from Le Naveix to La Roche au Go, and its apex, to
the NW, was the amphitheater, on a point overlooking
the town where the Jardin d'Orsay is today. The amphitheater (138 x 116 m) was built about the beginning of
the 2d c. of a core of mortared rubble faced with small
blocks; its long axis was aligned with the decumani. Its
ruins were partially uncovered in 1967. A 1st-2d c.
cremation cemetery, which marks the outer limit of the
city in this direction, is 200 m away.
A number of underground aqueducts brought the city
its water. The Aigoulène aqueduct, from Corgnac, is
still in use. Remains of the aqueduct network are still
standing, hollowed out of tufa or built of masonry.
Traces of fire and subsequent scattered rebuilding
testify to the partial destruction of the city at the time
of the invasion of Aquitania, 275-276. No coins in a
hoard of over 7000 denarii discovered in 1926 are later
than the time of Postumus. After this invasion the core
of the settlement was moved to the E, on the Puy Saint-Etienne, inside a smaller, fortified city. The civitas of
the late 3d c. was to keep its name throughout the Middle
Ages. Its walls were extended in a circle of ca. 1300 m,
protecting an area of ca. 12 ha.
Christianity came to Augustorituin in the time of St.
Martial, one of the seven bishops sent from Rome to
evangelize Gaul in the 3d c. His original tomb was discovered when the old Abbey of Saint-Martial was excavated in 1960. A simple sarcophagus of smooth granite,
it was found on the site of an Early Christian cemetery
on the NE edge of the city. After the religious peace of
Constantine's reign, the cathedral church was built at
the main crossroads of the civitas. In the 5th c. it was
consecrated to St. Étienne. A find of 200 quinarii of
Honorius' reign at the site of the amphitheater confirms
that the Vandals passed through the area (presumably
causing a fresh wave of destruction) at the very beginning of the 5th c.
The municipal museum of Limoges has some local antiquities, including the wall paintings from a villa of the
second half of the 1st c., discovered in 1962 in the
A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine
III (1958) 250-52, 675-76MP
; M.-M. Gauthier,
“Première campagne de fouilles dans le ‘Sepulcre’ de Saint-Martial de Limoges,” CahArch
12 (1962) 205-48MPI
; J. Perrier, “Carte archéologique de la Gaule romaine,” fasc. 14, “département de la Haute-Vienne” (1964)MPI