There’s an archaeological excavation going on around Nouzerines church at the moment. Or should I say an archaeological devastation, since it appears that it’s being carried out mainly by a digger.

See the digger?

I had no idea this dig was in the offing. I seem to be rather out of touch at the moment. At one time I had my finger firmly on Nouzerines’ pulse. I shall have to get involved in the various committees again if possible.

Anyway, cycling Rors to school on Tuesday morning, we were surprised to see a digger tearing up the tarmac in front of St Clair’s. By the evening, when we collected Rors, there were trenches to every side apart from the back. There were a few barriers up but we crept round those to have a look. I didn’t have my camera with me so I walked back down today, just happening to go at lunchtime when it occurred to me there wouldn’t be anyone around so I could have a good nose! Here’s what I saw.

Some sarcophagi?

Broken skull

 

I wonder who this is?

The skulls, skeletons and pottery are being pretty much pulverised by the digger. I thought archaeological digs were all along the lines of the ones on Timeteam, where the jovial Phil would painstakingly and gently remove artifacts from the trenches by removing the mud encasing them a grain at a time with a paintbrush. This isn’t the French approach. That skull above has been obviously smashed by the digger’s scoop as it dragged soil away.

The large piles of earth to the sides of the trenches are full of bits of bone. This strikes me as neither scientific nor moral. I’m guessing these bodies, being so close to the church, where perhaps priests or other religious people, who had earned their right to be buried in consecrated ground. I’m quite sure they never imagined for a moment that up to eight hundred years later (St Clair’s dates back to the 12th century) their remains would be trashed by a machine. I find it mind boggling. If it’s worth doing a dig to discover these remains and other items of interest, then why destroy them in the process? Even if there aren’t plans to ship the findings off to a museum, but just to rebury them, then shouldn’t the site’s integrity be respected? What’s the point of vandalising it with a digger?

See all the bone fragments?

Frankly I’m shocked at this lack of care. Now for myself, I hope the kids will turn me into a diamond when I’m gone, but that’s up to them. I’m not the slightest bit bothered about what will happen to my body when I don’t need it any more. But to these people I’m certain it did matter. They weren’t meant to be unearthed in such an undignified fashion for prying eyes like my own to wonder at, nor to be strewn around and mangled in a pile of mud.

Loads more broken bones

I have some research to do. I intend to find out what this dig is all about and if it’s standard procedure in France to send in a JCB to traumatise an archaeological site. Watch this space.