(Roanne) Loire, France.
A trading city at the head of navigation on the Loire. Goods
came from the Rhône valley and the Mediterranean to
be sent N and W. Mentioned by Ptolemy and the Peutinger Table
, it is cited as a city of the Segusiavi. The rise
of this town of merchants, fishermen, and potters dates
from the first half of the 1st c. A.D.; it started to decline
at the end of the century, probably owing to competition
from Lezoux, whose products were sold directly through
the Allier valley.
Through excavations on the city boundaries we know
roughly the area it covered, N-S between the Boulevard
de Belgique and the Rue de Cadore and E-W between
the Loire and the swamps that lay this side of the section
where the railroad station is today. Thus the city extended along the road from Augustodunum (Autun) to
Augustonemetum (Chermont-Ferrand). Its center was
probably in the modern De la Livatte quarter, where
many remains have been located.
Excavations in 1902 on the site of the Collège Saint-Paul (formerly Saint-Joseph) uncovered a graceful
bronze statuette of Minerva and a fine bronze fibula.
The site was again explored in 1962-68 and ancient rubbish pockets were found, similar to those discovered in
1958 on the site of the Nouvelle Poste. The original use
of these pockets, shaped like funnels or vats with vertical
sides and varying in depth (from 0.6 to over 2 m), is
still an enigma. The walls of some are hard and brownish, showing that they were used as hearths or rudimentary furnaces. Two had ultimately been used to store clay, rolled into loaves. Among the rubbish were found
Gallic coins from the late Republican and Augustan eras,
fibulas of Iron Age II and III and the beginning of our
era, objects of bronze, iron, and glass, and andirons.
There was also a tremendous amount of pottery: from S
Gaul, Campanian A, B, and C, Aco ware, Italic amphorae, and local pottery painted in a characteristic and original manner.
In the 1st c. the city produced great quantities of local
pottery of Forez and Roannais clay, remarkable for the
variety of its shapes, the texture of the paste, and the
quality of its decoration. No less than 37 different shapes
have been counted, divisible into four groups: vases
shaped hike an egg or a truncated cone, goblets, carinated
bowls, and bowl-shaped vases known as Roanne vases.
The forms range from slender pedestaled vases to low
ones. The paste is sometimes delicate, light gray with a
darker glaze, sometimes coarse, but some fine pieces
vary in color from light yellow to brick red. The patterns,
predominantly geometric, may be impressed, engraved,
Only one inscription has been found, an epitaph discovered in 1820 near the Werlé barracks. Few of the
monuments have survived: what may be the remains of
baths are near the Place du Château, some potters' kilns
are near the Ecole de Musique in the Rue de Cadore.
The kilns are 2 m down (covered by a Merovingian
necropolis, 6th-7th c.). Pottery found in these kilns is
principally everyday ware made of coarse clay; there are
no painted vases. Built in the second half of the 1st c.,
these ovens ceased to be active before the end of the
2d c.; production had become heavy and industrialized
before it disappeared.
In 1967-69 several houses in the Rue Gilbertès, in the
heart of the Gallo-Roman settlement, yielded many small
objects, coins and potsherds. Five strata could be identified, from the 1st c. B.C. (Campanian B and C, local
ware, coins of the Segusiavi) to the 3d c. A.D. (everyday
pottery, a denarius of Gordianus III). One house, built
in the period of Tiberius-Claudius and modified in the
2d c., was apparently abandoned ca. 160-180.
At least two necropoleis have been located. One, excavated in 1893 in the Rue Benoît-Malon, held mainly
cremation tombs. Four types of urns were listed: a limestone chest, a lead cylinder inside a copper-bound barrel,
a gray clay vase with wavy decoration, and a simple amphora base. But inhumation was also practiced: a wooden
coffin was identified by its nails. Among the finds were
some statuettes of white terracotta from the workshops
of the Allier valley, cast figurines usually representing
Venus Anadyomene. In 1873 another necropolis was
discovered in the Rue Anatole France; in it were a
sarcophagus made of large bricks and several cremation
The collections of Joseph Déchelette, a specialist
in Gallo-Roman pottery, are housed in a museum named
for him; it also has finds from the excavations. A little
museum has been set up near the potters' kilns in the
Rue de Cadore.
M. Bessou, “Note préliminaire sur les
fouilles de l'Institut St-Joseph,” Celticum
9 (1963) 171;
R. Perichon & I. Cabotse, “Analyse d'une fosse ‘à deblais’ de l'Institut St-Joseph à Roanne,” ibid. 189-216;
I. Cabotse, Roanne a 2000 ans. Les origines celtiques et
(1965); id. & R. Perichon, “Céramiques
gauloises et gallo-romaines de Roanne (Loire),” Gallia
24 (1966) 29-75; A. Bruhl & M. Laglay, “Informations,”
22 (1964) 425-26; 24 (1966) 488-92; 26 (1968)
564-65; 29 (1971) 411.