The site of the gallo-roman villa at Bourdange (Nospelt, Luxembourg) is very interesting. Clearly there is a lot of care both for the findings of the gallo-roman (celtic-roman) villa and the information given to visitors. It is a pleasure to go and see around.
In the woods at the verge of Bourdange, Nospelt, lies a most interesting Celtic site. The road signs call it a ‘Roman villa’, locals call it ‘Miecher’. Anyway it dates from the period where Celts were adapting more and more to Roman laws and lifestyle (‘gallo-roman period’). What you see is a group of foundations, scattered around in field and forest, remnants from a large villa with many side-buildings. The foundations were dug up and made accessible so that you easily have an overview and a good impression of the extent of the wealth here in the first centuries AD. Also you can see the traces of wooden fences, made in the 3rd and 4rd century when German tribes attacked Roman sites.
Volunteers have run this project that the local pastor Kayser started in 1964. Pastor Kayser followed up on the local rumors that there was a lot to find in the forest. There were talks about a hidden treasure. Together with the locals, he started the first serious archaeological search, with success. What happened before when following up on local memories, happened here again: a real hidden treasure was found! Imagine to find a pot filled with 2772 ‘antonian’ coins! Alas it is not on the site of the gallo-roman villa in Bourdange but in the National Museum of History and Art in Luxembourg city. The treasure stood within a wall in one of the side building – maybe the administrator of the property? There is no side note on the owner or the meaning of this treasure so that is one of the secrets of history.
His initiative was the basis of a large archaeological movement in the region that is remarkable and that obtained government recognition and permission as per 1991. What an achievement! Every year, more than 10.000 volunteer hours are spent in ancient sites. They also do projects with young people to increase interest and love for archaeology. You can feel that when you visit. Not only were several people working there to clean the site and make it more perfect, also the proof of regular research activity is visible on several spots. The information boards are excellent – I could follow every step of the project and it is exciting. There is way to much information to mention here so go there yourself and take your time.
Most of the foundations at the gallo-roman villa of Bourdange were former houses or buildings, except for 2 structures: 1 is a small temple, I loved that: to have your own temple next to the house! This, of course, was only for the very rich. 2 is a former monument for the death, a small round tower. The fact that the monument was situated at the doorstep of the house, means that ancestors and death have been very present for the living.
When you visit the gallo-roman villa at Bourdange, it is just a short walk to go to the Celtic graves further into the woods. I went there and will tell more about them in the next blog.
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