It was a hot, sunny and humid day yesterday, so of course I set out for a ride. I remembered to take plenty of water and electrolyte solution this time, though so Sue was OK with me getting out. Actually I think that sometimes she wants me out of her hair during the day, which means I can usually get her to ignore the fact that I’m playing hooky. I was thinking about this month’s challenge and I thought I might deviate a little from the usual routine to show you nice people something even older than the Roman city I visited. Here then is:
A pile of rocks! But its not just any pile of rocks, oh no, this is a historic pile of rocks. Actually the pile in the picture is but a small part of a much larger collection of rocks which is mostly covered with vegetation and that you can make out as a sort of hillock continuing into the background. The archaeologists tell us that these rocks are the remains of an oppidum, or hill-fort of the Eduens, a gallic tribe. Now why is that important, you might ask? Its significant because theses very same Eduens were the gauls that Julius Caesar used as both allies and pretext for his gallic wars. Caesar’s strategy in Gaul was essentially divide and conquer, and the Eduans were in perpetual war with their neighbors to the north, the Lingons. This hill fort was probably built to shelter the local population from Lingon raids, and its remains show that it was large enough to hold quite a large population complete with their livestock. Originally the walls would have been built of timber cribs filled with rocks, the murus gallicus that Caesar describes so well in his book. I suspect that Caesar himself never saw these rocks as he is not known to have passed this way. He did spend the winter of 53-52BCE in the city of the Eduans, but that has been conclusively identified as Bibract near the modern city of Autun. This site is just on the outskirts of Beaune, which itself is built on the ancient (Roman) city of Belenum. With the installation of the roman presence and the pax romanum, there was no longer a need for the fort and the citizens settled down to a life of villae and running water and baccanals.
My ride was rather more banal than Caesar’s. I rode south of Beaune to Meursault and a coffee stop at my friend Regis’ shop, and then to Puligny Montrachet for lunch in the local bistro. After lunch the heat started getting intense, so I rode the six kilometers to Chagny and took the train home.