Fieldwork

Annegray in Context

The site of Annegray in the eastern foothills of the Vosges Mountains, forms the focal point for the archaeological research of the Columbanus’ Life & Legacy Project.

Aerial view of the hamlet of Annegray (Courtesy of J. Proudhon)

As the first of Columbanus’ three monastic settlements in France, this site has the potential to provide answers to a number of topical questions relating to the development and earliest phases of these sites.

Our primary research questions include:

  • To what extent does the archaeological landscape at this site relate to Jonas’ (c. 600 – 659) descriptions of Columbanus’ monastic foundations?
  • Can we consider these sites as bastions of Irish culture and Irish monastic life on the continent?
  • What was the size, form and organisation of the monastery built by Columbanus’ fledgling community?

Located in the commune of La Voivre in Haute-Saône, Annegray today consists of a small hamlet just of the main course of the Bruchin Valley, about 15km east of its more famous sister house, Luxeuil. The only ostensible trace attesting to the presence of a monastery is the remains of a 10th century church, unearthed in 1959 by a local surgeon, Dr. Giles Cugnier. Apart from this research, which was never published, the site has received no archaeological attention prior to the current work, resulting in the fact that the exact location, size and scope of the monastic settlement is still unclear. This, along with the open, Greenfield nature of the site meant that a large scale prospection could be undertaken with the aim of gaining as clear as possible an idea of the underlying archaeological features. It was, furthermore, hoped that the results of the initial exploratory work would help to guide further research on the site. The fieldwork is part of the ongoing co-operation between the Columbanus’ Life and Legacy Project (NUI Galway) and Dr. Sebastien Bully of the CNRS (UMR 5594, Artehis). The work was carried out over a number of weeks in the autumn of 2010 and 2011 by a team comprising of members of the Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway (Gerard Dowling, Roseanne Schot and Emmet Marron, with the assistance of Peter Marron)along with Dr. Bully and members of his technical staff (Laurent Fiocchi and David Vuillermoz).

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