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Archaeology

Bibracte, Burgundy, France
Amphorae, two-handled pottery jugs
used to transport wine and olive oil.

Bibracte

Click for location

One thinks of the Celts, or Gauls as rather rough cave-like people but a visit to Bibracte, the Museum of Celtic Civilisation soon dispels this idea. In the 2nd and 1st centuries BC some shaved with a razor blades, made fine jewellery and enjoyed amongst other pleasures, wild boar and plentiful wine. They were successful traders, exchanging grain for wine and treasures.

At Mont Beuvray south west of the town of Autun, the Celts developed this fortified settlement, an oppidium, called Bibracte. Capital of the powerful Aedui tribe, it became an important trading crossroads. Amphorae, the two-handled pottery jugs used to transport liquids such as wine and oil tell us a lot about trade distribution at this time. During the 1st century BC it is estimated that 40 million amphorae were transported into Gaul. After Caesar’s conquest, there was a decrease in the importation of Italian wine as local production increased.

Roman imperialism began to advance. The Gauls gathered together at Bibracte and elected Vercingétorix as their leader against the mighty Julius Caesar. The Battle of Alésia followed in 52 BC at Alise-Ste-Reine and the Gauls were defeated. Shortly after, Bibracte was abandoned in favour of Autun which became an important Roman stronghold.

Bibracte Museum of Celtic CivilizationAt Bibracte today, there is a fine museum, completed in 1995. Using materials in harmony with the location in the Morvan forest – granite, beech wood and polished black marble with plenty of glass and halogen lighting, this building comes as a surprise amongst the traditional architecture of the surrounding region. With video screens, maps, models and displays, the daily life of the Celts throughout Europe unfolds.

You can make an unaccompanied visit or take a guided tour of the excavation site, with magnificent views across the countryside, all the way to the Jura mountains on a good day.

A research centre is situated five km from the site welcoming researchers, students and school children at the study centre in Glux-en-Glenne.

The museum is open:

Mid March to mid November every day from 10.00 to 18.00.

Four guided tours of the site each day during July and August. At other times tours are dependent on demand.

See also: The History of the Celts

Guided Tours

Burgundy by Request - Guided tours to places of historic interest and wineries

burgundy holiday homes direct from owner

  • St Symphorien de Marmagne, sleeps 14 and 8, ref: 67992
  • Voudenay, sleeps 14, ref: 408792
  • Cussy en Morvan, sleeps 5, ref: 2025572