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Castellane from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

​During the prehistory

The story is complex, his footprints are superimposed and disturb us. Here a monument rises from ten centuries while ten successive buildings have next to him during this same time. Others reveal the outline of a style, the trademark of another, the traces in their stones of a different origin. Hybrid, they tell us.
Walk in these centuries starting from the furthest to closer today. Walk really, since the origin of Castellane is at the outlet of the gorges of the Verdon where, in its cliffs, traces of prehistoric dwellings.
These cliffs, due to their configuration, are natural shelters, but it is certain that over the centuries and tribal developments, many sites outside the Gorge had to be occupied.
Examples include for example a burial cave in La Palud-sur-Verdon (Neolithic), a dolmen damaged in the village of la Baume, and in caves, multiple objects dating from the bronze age (1800-1900 BC). Since the dawn of time, the mass of the volume of the terrain changed little if we forget serpe shots and especially the whitish scars left by the companies of public works to the flank of the mountains.
But imagine these torn summits, these deep bloodletting, no roads, no motor noise: the roc and entire building bare plain, the capricious Verdon, its monstrous floods, difficult communications, the outcome of random travel: the unknown is close. These times remains the imprint of an oppidum on the hill that can be seen to the East of the hamlet of Brayal and North of the Colle. From these origins ligurians or celto ligures, remain us, in addition to some remains and certainly the archaeological treasures buried in the Earth, that its romanized name "Ducelia" which seems to be the original site of the current city. It goes without saying that given the lack of documents that we have, the little trace, we can only formulate hypotheses.
At the dawn of the Christian era, the castellanais country has a certain unity, mentioned by Pliny and Ptolemy who sets the boundaries, the territory of the Suetrii extended from Saint-André-les-Alpes to Combs by Demandolx, protected by ridges, and occupied the Canjuers plateau and the gorges du Verdon. Their capital is a place that will be paramount in the times to come, and which we reached the Roman toponym: "Salinae.

Salinae and the Suetrii

At the foot of the oppidum that we quoted flowed two saline sources. This is where lies Salinae. For centuries, the salt was of paramount importance and will be one of the determinants of corporate structures. These sources on the Hill of the Bouquet, in the locality of the Plan will contribute to the wealth and the development of Castellane. They will be operated until the middle ages. They were buried at the request of the farmers-General who saw there a tax competition: the gabelle. Are is they mixed with the waters of the waterfall, located at the edge of the road, at a place called 'Sadha'? These waters that caused the corrosion of the dawn Mills iron wheels, creating many problems to the Millers.
This place so apparently has always occupied the tribe of the Suetrii chose him not as the capital, but became the capital because there were concentrated, in all likelihood, the majority of their population and their trade. This salt, supreme wealth, was routed by caravans to Digne and following Nice paths and Mule paths, beginnings of the ancient Roman road which to resume the trace a few centuries later, and will serve as the main channel of communication for a Millennium and a half.
In the year 600 BC, the Phocaeans create Marseille: "Massilia". This colony, which had a very important extension, will absolutely not affect the various tribes of Haute Provence. In 125 BC, the Romans commanded by the Consul Sextius Cavinus and called by the Phocaeans, submit the Salyes; but the castellanais country remains away from the Roman conquest. Same Jules César, who unified the Gaul during his campaign of 58-50 BC, will not submit the Suetrii of the castellanais country. It will take the Emperor Augustus and his conquests of 25-14 BC so the romanization reach Salinae. This conquest was certainly not forced to be obvious, given the likely number of oppidums defended by mountaineers used to the climate and very combative.

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The arrival of the Emperor Augustus

In the year 6 BC, the Emperor Augustus, to commemorate his victories, erected the "Trophée Augusti" which can be seen in la Turbie, and on which is inscribed the 44 tribes during his campaign. It is believed, according to historians, that the inscription on the trophy following a chronological order and the Suetrii are the last mentioned... Wouldn't the last Romanised Gaul a Castellanais rather than the hero of Uderzo and Goscinny? And the pro-independence nature of the Provencal high back at this time? Two questions that deserve reflection.
Tribal wars, after the conquests of Augustus, settled a period of calm that there used to be called "Roman peace". During the first four centuries of the Christian era, Romans implement their administration, their governors, the civistates, administrative divisions, and the Saliniensium civistatae should appoint Castellane, which will be part of the Roman province of Alpes-Maritimes and will be large enough to possess the decurions, and thus a Senate. It can be assumed that the oppidum was abandoned after the conquest of Augustus.
The region of Castellane is still as wild but Salinae will grow, more so, certainly there will be built the ancestor of the Pont du Roc, which will serve as a transition to the Roman road, via Salinaria, linking the Aurelian way track domicienne. Indeed, two passages through the Alps connecting these two pathways, a Fréjus Sisteron, the other Cagnes-Digne, Castellane, Lèques, Saint-Pierre, Morelieres, Sandra and worthy. As traces of that time, you can see the milestones that were deposited on the Roman roads all the 1,480 m, of which three are in the Museum of Digne: two discoveries in the hamlet of Sionne, dating from Emperor Caracala in 213, and a discovery at 500 m of Taulanne. If a walk brings you to follow the route of the ancient track, you will have fun, 6th mile, near the col de Saint Pierre, locate a Terminal in wood, 1.80 m tall, bearing signs and inscriptions. Two cippi (of the truncated columns that adorned the tombs generally) from Salinae are preserved at the Abbey of Saint-Victor. No serious excavation has been undertaken on this site, but it seems that there is at least the foundations of an ancient theater, partly in the 19th century and then covered but nevertheless visible updates in some photos taken in the infrared. Sometimes, accidentally, urns, of coins and the remains of columns are extracted from the Earth.

Beginning of the Christian religion

In the 3rd century, internal unrest in the empire (whose Castellane was certainly not free), encourages the penetration of the Christian religion, and the reign of Constantine (from 324 to 337) will be written the edict of Milan recognizing, which will mark the end of paganism.
There is no doubt that this site Salinae will soon rise a Paleochristian Cathedral, but we cannot specify the exact time of its existence. We can therefore imagine this place without thinking of a sizeable city, in connection with the situation of Castellane on the Roman road and its riches in salt. Cited much more consistent since as the seat of a bishopric, an episcopal complex there emerge. There is reference in the Councils of Riez (439-442).
We also find traces of churches dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint-Laurent as well as a Basilica Sainte-Marie (in the texts of the Saint-Victor Abbey founded by Saint Cassien in 408 in Marseille). Nothing remains of these churches, also can't we dating the construction. Alas for Castellane, this bishopric will be transferred to Senez from the beginning of the 6th century, then at Digne. Castellane will never the seat despite his efforts.

The end of the Roman Empire

In 406, the hordes of barbarians cross the Rhine and 406 to 476 the Western Roman Empire declines.
The Haute-Provence will still demonstrate independence and resist the invaders of Rome, the Visigoths and Burgundians. Until 523, Europe experience periods of unrest, historical twists and will be the scene of various campaigns that will lead Burgundians and Visigoths and Ostrogoths to share the territory.
The city countered now isolated in its mountains and although not invested) will be affected by the weakening of the Roman administrative structure and the reduction of trade.
If the Romans brought some form of civilization to the conquered peoples, indigenous peoples were however keeping a clean structure and the show so by the city was probably not that gardens dotted with villas sumptuous marble, but rather a few Roman buildings in the middle of rural dwellings.
In 526, Haute Provence is Frankish.

The Merovingians

In 536, Provence, virtually independent, sees the advent of the Merovingian kings who, if they are not, apparently, a notorious evolution in Castellane, will have to fight between 569 and 575, against the Lombard invasions. The Haute Provence and more specifically Salinae which had thrived until then away Verdon but without military protection, floods weakened by the decline of the empire and a century of stagnation, had to suffer from the onslaught of these hordes until 574, date of the happy victory of Embrun definitely pushing the Lombards outside.
It follows a whole period obscure regression that historians will find at the level of Europe during the 7th and 8th centuries. It can be assumed that it was during this period that match the fall of Salinae and its divestment. For the height of disaster, under the reign of Charlemagne, 768 to 814, other invaders, the Saracens (or Moors), although only installed on the coast, regularly practice raids inland.
Thus, in 812, Pont du Roc is damaged. Salinae is almost abandoned, but the episcopal complex remains. Its inhabitants, grouped around a warrior leader took refuge on an easily defensible promontory: Petra Castellana. This city, which does not yet name, since Petra Castellana means "the Castle-Rock", begins to fortify himself at the dawn of this century, and the tip of the rock Crown of a castle.
•    Picturesque panorama
along the Verdon to capricious flood, beating downstream the foot of Salinae, in a site still very wild, crossed by a Roman road (only link with external valleys), spanning the waters at the bridge (still Roman?) rock, Salinae with its episcopal complex and a few houses nearby. Emerge in the Valley the promontory closed to the East by four speakers semi-detached, perforated iron door defended by two towers; a tower dominates, at the edge of the abyss, flanked by a chapel, (very probable ancestor of our Lady of the rock) common and ultimate systems defenses. A huge tank of 120,000 litres is housed in a huge fault, since then maintained book and which you can appreciate the boldness: 120 tons of water are trapped behind the wall you see down the rocks to the right of the chapel when you look to bottom. This enclosure will quickly become too cramped to accommodate a population anxious, eager for security (the rock platform does not exceed 650 m2).
Constructions are then built at the gates of the fortress, on the southern slope of the terrain, giving birth in 862 at the Priory of Saint-André (Saint-André du Roc).Walls, adjacent to the first enclosure, are high in 890 around Petra Castellana. This Uptown communicates with the outside through two doors, and with the Castle by the curtain of entry. Note amount to rock you pass, in the extreme south, between the remnants of the two bastions of the iron gate which loopholes are directed towards the Interior of the city, witnesses to this extension. All will suffer wars and erosions and will be revised on several occasions.

Petra Castellana

In 843, the empire of Charlemagne was dismembered and the Kingdom of Provence returns to Lothair. This is the beginning of the independence of the count of Provence, in which Castellane will be a place of some importance.
Who were the leaders of Petra Castellana? ... Still is it until around the year 900, a certain sieur Arbald, first of the name, benefactor of Cluny and the counts of Mâcon, wealthy owner, settled in Provence.
His lineage, Arbald II, Arbald III, Ronstrang-Arbald which itself gave birth to Aldeberg, will bind with the leaders Lords of Provence, and accumulate wealth and powers. It is as Aldeberg, 990, is recognized by Conrad, King of Arles, and D'ottan III, master of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, and was offered Petra Castellana as Lord steward, i.e. having the rank of Kingdom. Aldeberg will reside in this castle on the rock, Southeast of Petra Castellana fortified.
In 993, the Saracens delight Saint Mayeul linked by blood to the Lord of Castellane. Guillaume de Provence then raised an army, endorse all Lords whose of Castellane, to snatch Saint Mayeul from Saracens, which earned him to be called "Guillaume the Liberator. This episode ends in 993 by the end of the raids and the Saracen invasion of Provence. It is around this time, to 970, at the request of the monks of the powerful Abbey of Saint-Victor in Marseille (who possessed lands and rights since very ancient times) that starts the construction of the first Notre-Dame of the Plan, whose only remaining bases. This church, probably built on the site of the Paleochristian Cathedral, was located in the middle of the episcopal complex formed by the churches dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Marie. In 1032, while Notre Dame's Plan is certainly completed, Provence is attached to the Holy Roman Germanic Empire, but this attachment is only symbolic: Petra Castellana Lords who have always had ambitions of independence and, forts of their rights, operate without any reference other than God, their stronghold.

Saint-Pancrace - Digne
Bléone Valley - Digne

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