The fragments of wall on which the polychrome pigeon was painted.

Painted wall fragment from the Roman temple in Jublains.

Of all the artefacts I have seen this year, this has to be one of the most exquisite. As artefacts go, it is really quite simple and nothing out of the ordinary. And, as so many archaeological objects are, it is incomplete. But this polychrome pigeon, painted on what is now a fragment from the wall of a Roman temple in north western France, immediately caught my eye.

The painted wall fragment is now in the Museum of Jublains. The museum houses and displays artefacts from the various excavations of the Roman town, then called Noviodunum. During the first century AD the town became the capital of the Diablintes tribe of Celts and developed into a substantial city in north western France. Consequently there was a large forum and theatre as well as a prominent temple, which was constructed during the second half of the first century.

It was at this temple that the pigeon was painted. Both the interior and exterior surfaces of the outer wall of the temple were decorated with painted panels. And scenes of pigeons and pheasants framed the main, eastern entrance.

The museum has many other wonderful objects that have been recovered from excavations around the town. These include a collection of so-called mother goddess figures carved in white chalk, and also found near the temple. The Museum and the town is well worth a visit. Of the main features of the town, there is a large fortress, said to be the most well preserved Roman fort in France, a theatre – at which the foundations of both the first and second theatres can be see one on top of each other, bath complex – under the 19th century church, but on display, and at the other end of the town the temple. For more information and details about visiting the site, … go to Roman Jublains – Noviodunum.