In Chartres, the moving opening of a final Merovingian sarcophagus

In Chartres, the moving opening of a final Merovingian sarcophagus
In Chartres, the moving opening of a final Merovingian sarcophagus

REPORTAGE – This probable religious dignitary rested under the slab of the Saint-Martin-au-Val church since the 5the I hearde century.

The Romanesque church of Saint-Martin-au-Val is at once imposing, majestic and simple. Five circular apse chapels give it beautiful curves on the rear and sides. The main facade, very sober, is flanked by two large conical towers which give it the appearance of a cathedral. Inside, a strange and fascinating spectacle awaits us. The nave is gutted by a gigantic pit 12 m long, 8 m wide and almost 2.5 m deep. This “open choir” operation, started in 2013 as part of a project to bring the building up to standard, uncovered around twenty Merovingian sarcophagi, aligned like knucklebones. Like Lilliputians rummaging through the ribcage of an architectural Gulliver, a handful of archaeologists are busy around the 23th and last stone tomb, the fourth to have never been unsealed for more than 1300 years (the other 19 were looted, reused or excavated between the 13th

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