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A carved column in the museums at Vieux, Calvados Department in Normandy, France.

A satyr carved on a column from the ‘Grand Peristyle House’.

Period: Gallo-Roman
Site: Town

During the 1st century AD, Aregenua (Vieux-la-Romaine) became the capital of the Viducasse tribe. Situated at the crossroads of two Roman roads, running north-south and east-west, it became an important commercial staging town. Aregenua and Juliobona (present-day Lillebonne in Upper Normandy) are the only two capital towns in Gallo-Roman Normandy that did not become Medieval towns.

The first excavations at Vieux-la-Romaine are thought to have taken place in 1702. These were carried out under the direction of Nicolas Foucault, King Louis XIV’s chief royal administrator in Normandy. Although this was nearly 50 years before excavations began at Pompeii, the record keeping during these excavations was not very good. The remains of a bath house and the theatre were uncovered – but little remains of these features today. In 1988 a professional archaeological service was established in he village, and the first major feature uncovered was the domus, or town house, that has a paved, central courtyard. In 2002, an excellent purpose-built museum opened to the public showcasing the excavated artefacts from the town.

Facilities & Visiting the archaeological site of Vieux-la-Romaine:

entry-fee-euro not-open-year-round opening-hours guided-visits-only onsite-museum onsite-information events family-children-activities wheelchair-accessible guide-dogs-allowed refreshments onsite-shop picnic-area toilets wheelchair-toilet dogs-allowed photographs-allowed parking bus-parking no-camping

The museum is closed during January, otherwise open year round. Staff at the museum offer a number of different tours of the town, and the various Roman and Medieval sites of interest. Visitors can only visit the remains of the Forum on a guided tour.

Where is Vieux?

Vieux-la-Romaine is just south of Caen – in the Calvados Department of Lower Normandy.
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What not to miss during your visit:
Besides what is on display in the museum, there are three main archaeological features of the Roman town to see. These are the Forum, which is only accessible on a guided tour, the Grand Peristyle House, and the exposed Courtyard of a Domus.

Objects & Artefacts in Museum Collections Elsewhere:

The so-called Thorigny Marble, found in Vieux in 1580, is now housed in the museum in St. Lô. The inscribed stone is thought to have been a pedestal for a statue of Titus Sennius Sollemnis, a distinguished person from the local Viducasse tribe of Gauls.

Video & Photographs of Vieux-la-Romaine




Click on the thumbnail photographs to see a larger image.

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Excavations in 1988 revealed a domus with a central courtyard, now under cover.

Courtyard domus under shelter.


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The paved courtyard of the domus, or town house at Vieux-la-Romaine, Normandy.

The paved courtyard.

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The walkway over the courtyard at Vieux-la-Romaine.

A walkway over the domus.


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The so-called 'Grand Peristyle House at Vieux-la-Romaine

The grand peristyle house.


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Looking towards the entrance to the peristyle house.

The entrance to the house.


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Plan of the peristyle house.

Plan of the peristyle house.


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Looking onto one of the heated rooms in the peristyle house.

One of a few heated rooms in the peristyle house.


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Looking onto the reconstructed hypocaust floor in the heated room.

Reconstructed hypocaust floor.


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One of a number of mosaic floors in the peristyle house.

A mosaic floor in the peristyle house.


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Archaeology Travel’s Tip:

Archaeological Museum of Vieux-la-Romaine, Normandy.

The new museum in Vieux.

Besides a great programme of guided tours, it is possible visit the various elements (except the forum) of the archaeological site and museum without a guide. When I visited with friends, we had a picnic at a spot near the car park overlooking the village. I recommend starting at the museum to get your bearings. A relatively new museum, it caters well for visitors of all ages. A short film of about 13 minutes introduces you to the Roman town and the history of archaeological excavations in Vieux. Most of the artefacts on display come from the Grand Peristyle House. The displays are well organised, and handling boxes allow for a more interactive experience. Then take a map of the village and explore the various Roman elements. Three hours will give you ample time to explore the archaeological site and museum.

Further Information:

  • Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours. The website is mostly in French, but there is a small English section with the essential information.