Amis d'Uxellodunum  

Past excavations 1865 - 1973

The oldest document to identify Puy d’Issolud as Uxellodunum is a highly contested deed (potentially apocryphal) which goes back to the 10th century. By a charter of 935, King Raoul donated to the Abbey Saint-Martin of Tulle a mountain (podium) called Uxelloduno, situated in Quercy near Vayrac where, according to a six-word clause in the deed, formerly stood a town known to have been besieged by the Romans. This geographical situation corresponds to the present day Puy d’Issolud. The history of the document began at around the end of the 16th century when, by a complicated route, it reached the historian Justel who detailed its contents in a book published in 1645. In addition, three deeds of property dating from 941, 944 et 945 refer to an estate called Exeleduno, which cannot be anything other than the podium Uxelloduno, which was transferred to the monastery of Saint-Martin-de-Tulle.

Since the 18th century there have been endless quarrels over the real location of Uxellodunum, the site of the famous last insurrection of the Gauls against the forces of Julius Caesar.

But the excavations by Jean-Baptiste Cessac at the spring known as the Fontaine de Loulié, ordered by Napoleon III, were intended to put a stop to the quarrels.

Excavations started on 27th May 1865. Cessac found many iron tips of catapult bolts, iron arrow tips, burned stones and earth and many fragments of charcoal. These revelations allowed Cessac to obtain funding to continue the work.

Napoleon III
Napoleon III

Eventually on the 19th June 1865, at a depth of 5 metres, Cessac found a man-made tunnel. This discovery was sensational given that Caesar had ordered tunnels to be constructed below the spring in order to capture the water and thus drive the Gauls to defeat.

Napoleon III immediately sprang to Cessac's aid and despatched a team of military sappers in support. The tunnel found by Cessac was uncovered over a length of 40 m and the area around the spring was excavated. Many iron arrow and catapult tips and many large carpentry nails were collected.

Between 1866 and 1874, many reports were published and as a result Napoleon III declared, in his own work on the Gallic Wars, that the site of Uxellodum was to be found at Puy d'Issolud.

After the fall of the Second Empire, the debates raged in the literature of the day. Many fanciful articles flooded the newspapers and the learned publications, and the location of Uxellodum was claimed by many different sites.

Some work was carried out at the site from 1913 until 1920 by Antoine Cazes, a nursery school teacher of Martel and, from 1920 until 1941, by Antoine Laurent-Bruzy, who after 15 years of work discovered the second tunnel, thought to be Roman. But Laurent-Bruzy died suddenly leaving no inventory of the numerous objects discovered nor any published documents concerning his work.

In 1968 and in 1971 Michel Llorblanchet carried out work on mediaeval structures on the plateau and in 1973 M. Depeyrot uncovered mediaeval fortifications on the north face of the Puy d'Issolud.

 

 

 

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