For the first time on the occasion of the JEP, the friends of the abbey invite you to discover the excavations, to attend a conference on its history and to enjoy accompanied walks.
- Programme of visits:
Friday 18: 14:00 - 16:30: Reception of school children.
- 10h30 - 11h00: Presentation: L'ordre de Grandmont (SASSAG).
- 11h30 - 12h00: Conference.
- 14h00 - 14h30: Presentation: L'ordre de Grandmont (SASSAG).
- 15h00 - 16h00: Visit of the site with the archaeologists
- 16h30 - 18h00: Discovery walk, circuit of ponds (SASSAG and Christophe Cloquier, underwater archaeologist).
- 10h30 - 11h00: Presentation: L'ordre de Grandmont (SASSAG).
- 11h30 - 12h00: Conference
- 14h00- 15h00: Visit of the site with the archaeologists
- 15h30 - 17h00: Discovery walk, pond circuit (SASSAG)
Age of target audience: any audience
No accessibility accommodations
- Grandmont Abbey: a heritage to rediscover
As part of its first participation in the Heritage Days, the Société des Amis de Saint-Sylvestre et de l'Abbaye de Grandmont (SASSAG, www.sassag.com) organizes the reception of visitors on the site of the Abbey of Grandmont and the discovery of its natural environment.
Of conference tours will allow visitors to discover the remains of the abbey rediscovered since 2013, on the site belonging to the association, thanks to archaeological excavations conducted each year by a team of the University of Picardy Jules Verne, under the direction of Professor Philippe Racinet.
Since 1820 and its complete demolition by a contractor of the building, nothing visible remained of this immense abbey but a chapel built with stones from the demolition and the few objects of worship that had been transported there.
After initial surveys in 2013, the excavations cleared the base of the walls and the floor of the nave of the early church. Many tombs have been discovered in the axis of it, in particular that of one of the two bishops whose chronicles mention burial in the church. The magnificent construction of the bedside then appeared further east. A separate burial area in several different period areas has resulted in the updating of a large number of burials with different types of construction. In 2018 and 2019, an exceptional group of lead vials was discovered in place in more than thirty open graves at the bedside of the church.
On the south side of the church, part of the cloister was cleared, cloister that continues on the other side of the road traced in the twentieth century through the enclosure of the abbey. The north and east galleries of the cloister are now visible. In the northern one, which gave access to the church, the ground was covered with tombstones, each covering several superimposed burials. The southern one is entirely intersected by an impressive wall made up of huge blocks and perfectly cut.
It is indeed the remains of the last reconstruction of the abbey, from 1760, that are necessary when one enters the site for the first time. Of an exceptional quality, these walls overlap all the previous structures and complicate their legibility. For archaeologists, it is a question of separating constructions spread over six centuries and kept on the same plane and understanding the articulation.
Visitors will be able to walk in the middle of a set of carved stones, especially tombstones, which were discovered during the excavations. This first presentation is the beginning of a lapidary garden that SASSAG wishes to set up in the enclosure of the abbey.
The visits will be completed by presentations on the history of the Order of Grandmont and its imposing treasure which was dispersed during the dissolution of the order shortly before the Revolution. Despite the destruction, sales and thefts, this dispersion eventually allowed the preservation of many pieces that are still found in various churches of the diocese, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges, in Paris and in other major art museums around the world.
- Archaeological excavations: what are the problems?
These planned excavations, supported by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs contribute to the training of students in archaeology who have the opportunity, for five weeks each summer, work with specialists from the many disciplines involved in medieval archaeology research. Together with SASSAG and the support of local communities, they contribute to the development of the cultural site in interaction with its natural environment.
From a scientific point of view, the project aims to establish the different stages of the development of the Grandmont site by the monks. Was the site deserted or not when they arrived in 1125? What was the layout and appearance of their first constructions after their arrival? How many reconstructions took place at the time of the splendour of the abbey at the turn of the 13th century? What impression did the Plantagenets have on the organization of a building where they lived frequently and where they had considered a time to be buried? Can we find the constructions associated with their stays that are mentioned in the chronicles? Were new works undertaken between the Middle Ages and the great 18th century reconstruction project? Until what time did the monks continue to use the medieval buildings? What was the progress of the project when the site was abandoned in 1788?
These excavations also aim to reconstruct the footprint of the great centre of power that constituted the monastery over the entire region. What improvements have they been able to bring, thanks to their financial means and to the tenants over whom they exercised seigneurial power, to an environment little favoured by nature? How were organized on the ground their multiple economic activities, both in the "franchise", a territory of about 700 hectares on which abbots and monks exercised sovereign power, But also over the entire surrounding region where their feudal power came into competition with neighbouring powers, secular like the Dognon Châtellenie or ecclesiastical like the bishopric of Limoges?
About the venue
Grandmont is a village located in the heart of the Ambazac mountains that developed around the abbey and has long benefited from its economic benefits. Until the 18th century, notaries and judges resided there in connection with the sovereign power exercised by the Grandmontains on a territory of about 700 hectares surrounding the abbey, called the "Franchise". Craftsmen worked for the abbey and the whole village benefited from the passage of pilgrims and often illustrious visitors who stopped or stayed there. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the village was the most populated group of the commune before declining in the course of the same century.
Built in the 12th century, the monastery becomes the center of the Order of Grandmont. Playing an important diplomatic role in a border region between the domains of the king of France and Aquitaine under English domination, the site receives the visit of prestigious characters, several popes and kings of England Henry II, John Witho
Access: Access only by private vehicles. Possibility of parking on site and on grassy ground.