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LES BOUCHAUDS (“Germanicomagus”) Charente, France.

Gallo-Roman theater in the commune of St. Cybardeaux. The site is sometimes referred to as Germanicomagus, a Latin name very similar to that of a statio mentioned in the Peutinger Table and located in the region but not identified. This is an unconfirmed hypothesis.

The theater, 23 km from Angoulême, is built against the NW side of a hill dominating the surrounding countryside—a religious hilltop site of the Celtic period. The site contains neither a city nor fortifications; it was a rural sanctuary like Chassenon (Charente) or Sanxay (Vienne). However, some wells and a few dwellings can be discerned to the S at the foot of the hill opposite the theater, where a road branches off from the Roman roads and climbs towards the site.

The base of the stage wall is impressive. Its 105 m facade is surpassed by Lyon (108 m), Vienne (130 m) and Autun (147 m), but is greater than Fréjus (83 m), Vaison (96 m), Arles (102 m), and Orange (103 m). The stage wall was 1.3-1.4 m thick at the base, and was supported, halfway up the slope of the hill, by a thick sustaining wall and by a number of buttresses of different size and placement. On the inside the customary three doorways of the stage building served as supports, as did their projecting sections. The reason for these extravagant precautions, as well as for the thickness of the wall, can be found in the size of the structure, which has been estimated as 22.4 m high.

The forepart of the stage, in front of the doorways, was 35 by 4.5 m. A straight wall bare of any decoration bordered it on one side. The stage projects considerably into the orchestra, but is only slightly raised above it. The orchestra, in spite of its 23.8 m radius, probably served only as an aisle for distinguished citizens who had reserved seats in the first three rows. The walls lining the tiers on either side are straight and parallel to the great wall. These tiers, forming a semicircle 52.5 m in radius, were probably partly of stone and partly of wood. They were divided by six aisles that provided access to the seats; there was no central passageway, but there may have been a double entrance at the rear. Remains of walls outside the semicircle would seem to be evidence of access stairways at the side gates. The spectators sat facing N, as was the custom, and were protected at least partially by a canopy: the bored stones that used to hold up the poles have been found.

This is a standard Roman theater with few deviations. It particularly resembles the theater at Champlieu (Oise), which is of exactly the same type with the same restricted entrances. The W corner of the theater was apparently rebuilt; the absence of bands of brick and the excellence of the masonry date the whole structure from the 1st c. A.D. It has been claimed that the theater could seat 8500.

On top of the hill were several buildings. Farthest W was a large portico surrounding a rectangular area (40 x 27 m) which may have replaced a Celtic burial ground. To the E was a Classical temple, a rectangular building with two rooms, one 5.70 m square and the other 5.70 by 2.45 m. Ringing this central section was a corridor which apparently served as a Celtic gallery, allowing for ritual processions. There is also an enormous foundation block still standing in the theater axis, which probably supported a little temple, as at Lyon, not a statue. The theater was obviously attached to the sanctuaries.

The Les Bouchauds monuments were destroyed, or at least badly damaged, in 276 m one of the first barbarian invasions. The invaders were easily led there by the network of roads serving the site. There is no comprehensive collection of finds from Las Bouchauds in any museum; everything has disappeared.


C. de Ia Croix, “Études sur le théâtre gallo-romain des Bouchauds (Charente) et sur son déblaiement,” Bulletin et Mémoires de la Socété Archéologique et Historique de la Charente 8 (1908) 65-172I.


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