Huge Merovingian Cemetery Discovered Near Somme
This summer, as part of the construction of a school in the village of Monchy-Lagache east of Amiens in Somme, an archaeological evaluation has – as is required by French law – been carried out. Huge was the amazement, when the archaeologists found a unique cemetery.
Such surveys involve digging trenches 2 m x 2 m and 0,5 cm deep every fifteen meters. The result was the discovery of a huge and unique cemetery, says Richard Rougier, who is scientific and technical deputy director at Inrap-in Picardie, and attached to the CNRS-University of Lille archeology laboratory in Villeneuve-d’Asq. Expected finds will be necklaces and bracelets in women’s graves and scramaxes (throwing axes) in male graves,” says Pascal Depaepe, who is Interregional Director at Inrap in Northern Picardy
Until now four skeletons have been removed for further analysis and the trenches have been closed again. The archaeologists are waiting for a decision from the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) Amiens, which will decide in late August or early September whether to carry out further excavations.
The trenches cover app. 12% of the surface and the archaeologists estimate that there are about 6-800 graves waiting to be excavated. Given the number of skeletons and the presence of children’s graves, it is probably holding the remains of the population of an entire village. The bodies found are placed at about 1.50 meters underground (which is relatively deep), and out of reach of conventional metal detectors. The discovery confirms that Monchy-Lagache was probably a major Gallo-Roman as well as Merovingian center (AD 400 -600).
The fact that the cemetery does not show signs of ancient or modern looting excites the archaeologists immensely. Neither does there seem to have been any destruction wrought by fighting or shelling during WW1, even though the site is located 14 km south of Peronne.