Friday, 3 January 2020

The Dig is Done, Now for the Analyses


Saint Ours, Loches (right, middle distance).
Saint Ours, Loches (right, middle distance).  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The dig season conducted at the Church of Saint Ours in Loches for the Indre et Loire county archaeological service finished at the end of May 2019. During five weeks of research, the former floor levels and flagstones of the 11th and 12th centuries were identified, along with traces of changes to liturgical practice. Most exciting of all, five tombs were found and remnants of the original 11th century front of the church can be recognised.

The fortress in Loches where Ludovico Sforza was held.
Fortress at Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Several structural elements relating to alterations in 1771 were exposed, such as a much bigger choir than is extant today. The position of the old choir screen was determined and the position of one of the altars which butted up to the choir screen.

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan's prison cell in the Martelet Tower on the citadel of Loches.
Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan's cell in the citadel of Loches.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The church, originally dedicated to Notre-Dame, was founded by the Count of Anjou, Geoffroy Greymantle about 980. This predates the reconstruction under Fulke Nerra at the beginning of the 11th century. The current research confirms all the known documentary evidence of the chronology of the church. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of a church any earlier than this.

 Graves in Saint Ours being excavated.
Graves found in Saint Ours in Loches being excavated.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Several graves, dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries, and in front of the choir screen, have all been carefully excavated. One of these, quite well preserved, and situated in the position described by several historical sources as that of the tomb of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. However, it's still too early to confirm the identity of the deceased interred here. The group of graves discovered will now be the subject of analyses to determine the sex, the age at death and the date of burial as precisely as possible for each individual. If the tests prove that there is a man of about 60 years old who died at the beginning of the 16th century, further analyses of isotopes will be done, to determine the geographic area the individual lived. Finally, DNA analysis is envisaged and the research responsibility will be handed to the county anthropologist. The results will be released in the next report.

The front half of the church is blocked off while work is undertaken.
Interior of Saint Ours, Loches, while work is being undertaken.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

************************************************

For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

4 comments:

Ricks Carson, Atlanta said...

When I lived in the Chateau du Lion in 1971, the owners excavated under the chateau as they attempted to solve the problem of a leaning parapet that looked likely to fall into the Impasse du HaHa. We discovered romanesque walls and arches from the 11th century, when a monastery existed on the site.

Susan said...

That sounds intriguing.

Katie Zeller said...

How very interesting! So much to find and learn in these old spots

Susan said...

Loches is full of intriguing, important and hidden history.

Post a comment