Holidays of a historian

Serquigny was quite famous for its Gallo-Roman archaeological finds in the 19th century. They found mainly the rests of buildings and the historians hoped to find something more sensational, like the silver treasure in Berthouville. One day a historian by name of Lenormant decided to spend his holidays with his family in Serquigny. The place is beautiful, the Charentonne runs like a silver band through the town and on the southern side of the river the huge forest of Beaumont starts. It covers an area of 3580 hektars. When Monsieur Lenormant took a walk with his family, his wife stumbled over a small plaque, that had a name on it. “Baudulfus” was carved in the plaque of fired clay. Lenormant became excited. The holidays for his family were certainly over at that moment. He started to organize an archaeological excavation. He found a skeleton and lots of plaques with inscriptions. Lenormant published his research papers as the “Holidays of a historian” and gave them to several associations of “antiquaires” (that’s how historians were called in France at that time). Because of the inscription “Clovis, consul” on one of the plaques he thought he had found a Merovingian cemetery and a baptistery.

Weir of the Charentonne in Serquigny. Own photo, licence: CC by-SA/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

The historians in the departement Eure, and we had a lot around here. Were not that excited about his finds. It turned out, that the skeleton was around 150 years old and never saw a Merovingian. The baptistery was the rest of a limekiln. Now to the plaques.

Abbé Renaud Rouillon was an erudite and parson. He lived in Évreux and went to the library every day. He could read and write ancient Greek and Latin language. One day he started to travel around and leave plaques with fake inscriptions everywhere. To be found by archaeologists one day. This seed was harvested by Lenormant. Abbé Rouillon was in a mental institution at that time.

Lenormant didn’t believe the other historians. For him it was still a Merovingian cemetery. He lived by the motto: “moi seul, et c’est assez!” ‚I believe it, that’s enough!‘

The Charentonne in Serquigny. Own photo, licence: CC by-SA/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Further Reading:

De Paris à Cherbourg en chemin de fer : guide-itinéraire contenant l’historique complet des travaux de la digue et du port de Cherbourg. by Henri Nicolle (18..-19..) published by A. Bouchard in Caen 1860 p.68ff

The category of Serquigny on Wikimedia Commons.

Creative Commons License
serqwasser.jpg and serqcharent1.jpg by stanze is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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