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25 years of archaeological and historical research of the Royal Château of Blois


25 years of archaeological and historical research of the Royal Château of Blois

From 05/31/2018 to 06/03/2018

Château de Blois
6 Place du Château

The exhibition is structured around ten cubes which were initially placed in the garden next to the House Of Magic during the Heritage Weekend in September before their removal to the forecourt in front of the Louis XIIth wing of the Royal Château of Blois. Through archival documents and unpublished photographs, the exhibition evokes current historical and archaeological research.

Fare : Entrance free of charge.

The present-day château is the result of a succession of constructions and destructions that have obliterated the traces of the former medieval fortress, for which archives have left us with no description. Owned by the Counts of Blois-Champagne, then by the Counts of Blois-Chatillon, the fortress was purchased by the Duke Louis of Orléans in 1391. His grandson, who became King Louis XII, transformed the fortress into a royal palace, which was completed by François I, and then modified by Gaston of Orléans.

The archaeological surveys of the 1990s and 2000s, both in and around the château, have allowed us to renew our knowledge about the château. The earliest traces of a consequential occupation of the site date from the 9th century, when the Counts built a  castrum* occupying the entire spur, limited  by the present-day rue des Fossées to the west and the edge of the spur to the east. The large quantity of objects discovered in storage pits provide information about the daily life of the château's occupants , especially between the 9th and 11th centuries. Certain objects bear evidence to the Counts' wealth and power (game tokens, vestiges of hunting and war weapons, fragments of furniture and fine tableware). But the main part of this material culture concerns agricultural activities (grain silos, tools) and artisanal activities (metal, wood, and bone work), which were situated in the outer bailey (the present-day forecourt) and provided important revenues to the lords.

The archaeological surveys have provided only a few rare traces of timber-frame constructions, as they were located under the subsequent buildings that still exist today. Through other scientific approaches, such as building archaeology, architectural or historical analysis, we can nevertheless imagine certain destroyed constructions. Between 2007 and 2016, studies based on subsisting medieval masonry, timber-frame roofs and archives have increased our knowledge about the buildings and the dating (thanks to dendrochronology) resulting in a synthesis of acquired knowledge. However, many questions remain unresolved and historians and archaeologists still have discoveries to be made, in particular concerning the underground areas (latrine pits, cellars and foundations).

While waiting for the publication of all the results of the researches in a supplement of the Archaeological Review of the Central France which is planned the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, you will find below the publishing of cubes in pdf format.

*Castrum: In the Middle Ages, a fortified site or area shared  by the lord and his knights, as well as those who serve them.

Consultation of cubes in pdf format :

1. Archaeological excavations at the Château of Blois (1991 to 1999)

2. The archaeological study of buildings of the Château of Blois (2008-2016)

3. Studying wood in historical monuments in the Château of Blois

4. Illustrations of the Château of Blois from the 16th to 18th centuries

5. Study of the archives concerning the Château of Blois (2008-2016)

6. The fortress of the Counts of Blois (9th-13th centuries)

7. The fortress of Blois from the 13th century to the 15th century

8. The archaeological study of the Louis XII wing’s latrines in the Château of Blois

9. The Château of Blois’s underground passages: myths & reality

10. The Château of Blois military barracks (1788 – 1867)


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