The vast massif is limited to the W by the
valley of the Seine, to the NE by the valley of the Ource,
and to the S by the valley of the Brevon. The ravined,
calcareous plateau does not retain rainwater and there
are no springs in this forest. According to the most recent thought the origin of these woods does not seem
to be earlier than the Merovingian period. The oldest
trace of human occupation seems to be the barrow of
Le Soue de Banne. It contained a cist of stone slabs
which enclosed a crouched skeleton. The grave goods
consisted of some flint flakes and perforated shells. Prehistoric occupation was intense mainly during the first
and second Iron Ages; the Bronze Age has left no remains. The funerary mounds are built of dry stones,
without earth, and they are located on the edges of the
wooded massif. Most frequently the central burial, for
which the barrow was built, dates to the Late Hallstatt
period (6th c. B.C.). Secondary burials dating to La
Tène I (5th, 4th c. B.C.) were inserted into the body
of the monument. The burial rite was always inhumation. Near the Ource valley to the east one finds the
Maisey, Vanvey, and Villers-le-Duc burial groups. To
the S between the Brevon and Seine valleys one can
mention the barrows of Brémur, Busseaut, and Essarois.
The barrows of Voisin and Aisey are found along the
Seine valley to the SW.
During the Gallo-Roman period human occupation
was extensive and included the entire plateau. Two fana
have been identified and excavated: that of Essarois,
consecrated to Apollo Vindonnus, and that of Saint-Germain-le-Rocheux. Both have produced a great quantity of votive offerings and statues. The fanum of Saint-Germain-le-Rocheux was built on the site of a wooden
Up to now some 40 Gallo-Roman buildings have been
identified in the Forest of Châtillon. For the most part
they consist of small villas or agricultural domains clustering near the Roman roads which crossed the forest.
Only one of these villas (the villa of Pepinère) has
been partly excavated. It was characterized by a spacious
entry-way and fine ashlar walls adorned with polychrome frescoes.
The agricultural domains include, in addition to the
living quarters, barns, and stables, vast enclosures shut
in by small walls. The existence of these farms in what
is now the middle of the woods demonstrates that the
forest had not yet grown up in the Gallo-Roman period.
The absence of water sources must have necessarily limited exploitation of the area, since livestock could drink
only in ponds. It appears that all of these buildings,
secular and religious, were destroyed at the end of the
3d c., but only excavations can confirm this.
The grave goods from the prehistoric remains in the
Forest of Châtillon, as well as the excavated assemblages
from the temples of Essarois and St.-Germain-le-Rocheux
are in the Musée Municipal at Châtillon-sur-Seine.
F. Henry, Les tumulus du département
de Ia Côte d'Or
(1933); R. Joffroy & R. Paris, “Le
tumulus du Soue de Banne,” Bull. Soc. Arch. du Châtillonnais
(1948); Joffroy, Un tumulus à Essarois
d'Or): le tumulus du Bas de Comet
de France (1956); Mignard, Hist. d'un temple dédié à
Apollon, près d'Essarois
, Mém. de la Com. des Ant. de
la Côte d'Or (1847-52) III; R. Paris, “Fouilles du Fanum
du Tremblois,” Bull. de la Soc. Arch. du Châtillonnais