The "Champ des Rochers" in Soyaux (Charente) from the Neolithic settlement to the funerary and / or religious complex of the late Bronze and Iron Age - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française Year : 2020

The "Champ des Rochers" in Soyaux (Charente) from the Neolithic settlement to the funerary and / or religious complex of the late Bronze and Iron Age

Au pied du Camp de Recoux, le Champ des Rochers à Soyaux (Charente) : de l'occupation néolithique au complexe funéraire et/ou cultuel de la fin de l'âge du Bronze et de l'âge du Fer

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Abstract

The plateau of Recoux Soyaux, an area of more than four hectares delimited to the south by an imposing dry stone rampart, is located a few kilometres east of Angouleme (Charente). The site was used from the Early Neolithic to the Iron Age (Camp de Recoux). All but a small stretch of the rampart was destroyed during the nineteenth century and the site is known only from observations made upon its destruction. Excavations carried out in 2007 at the bottom of the eastern slope, as part of the construction of the Angouleme bypass revealed an occupation dating back to the Late Neolithic. It is located on the ancient banks of the Font Noire River, near to a remarkable group of twenty-two preserved ring ditches dating to the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. However, apart from three Iron Age burials, none of the monuments contained tombs. The Late Neolithic site, dating to between 2800 and 2500 BC (or Artenac culture), was located on the banks of the Font Noire, from the evidence of features and the abundant material remains discovered there. Dating to between the 9th and the 2nd centuries BC, the ditches, either circular, quadrangular or horseshoe shaped, are organised into two groups, placed a little more than a hundred meters apart one is located on a ridge above the bank of the Font Noire river (group 1), and the other on the slope of the plateau (group 2). Dating each monument is not always easy, yet the oldest feature (no.16) of group 1, with a palisade of regularly spaced postholes about 30 cm from the inside of the ditch, probably dates to the end of the Late Bronze Age, around the 9th century BC. About 10 m to the north, a second monument (no.1), with three horseshoe shaped satellite ditches dates to the 8th century BC. Dating the monuments of the second group, located 100 m higher up the slope, is more difficult because of the scarcity of finds. However, it seems that they were in use at least until the 6th century BC. The uppermost fills of some of the ditches have crowns made from stones (platelets or blocks), collected on the plateau of Recoux, and not extracted during the digging of the ditches. At least two fragmented limestone steles are amongst these stones. These architectural features and the absence of burials raise the question as to the function of these monuments. More so, as three small pits that are approximately 1 m in diameter, perfectly aligned on a north-south axis and regularly spaced (about 3 m between each pit) are located a few meters from an undated circular ditch in the intermediate zone between the two monumental groups. They each contain an adult burial in a sitting position (the left leg is flexed with the heel under the buttocks and the right leg flexed with the knee raised) facing east and the Font Noire valley. Dating to the 2nd century BC by radiocarbon analysis, they shed new light onto the function of these numerous monuments devoid of burials. Even though the monuments of group 2 have suffered heavy erosion, amplified by ploughing, a better preservation of the group 1 ditches suggests by their ostentatious nature and their visibility over a long period that these were perhaps not funerary monuments. Whether they were "simple" funerary monuments, spatial or even cultural markers, or connected to the religious world, they were sacred spaces delimited by ditches or palisades, or both. The site of Le Champs des Rochers, with its twenty-two ditched monuments and three sitting burials, demonstrates without any doubt the need for extensive research into such sites, so that they can be viewed in their entirety from a chronological, a spatial, and ultimately from a social perspective.
À quelques kilomètres à l’est d’Angoulême, en Charente, le plateau de Recoux, à Soyaux, occupé du Néo-lithique moyen à l’âge du Fer, était protégé jusqu’au xixe siècle par un rempart de pierres sèches. C’est à ses pieds qu’une fouille, réalisée en 2007, a permis de mettre au jour un niveau d’occupation du Néolithique final implanté sur l’ancienne berge de la Font Noire, ainsi qu’un remarquable ensemble de vingt-deux enclos circulaires protohistoriques sans sépultures, et trois inhumations du second âge du Fer. Si, entre 2800 et 2500 ans av. J.-C., la berge de la Font Noire ne semble avoir connu qu’une occupation domestique en lien avec celle du site fortifié qui la surplombe, il en va différemment entre le ixe et le iie siècle av. J.-C. Les enclos s’organisent en deux principaux groupes, distants d’un peu plus d’une centaine de mètres. Leur datation n’est pas toujours aisée, mais le plus ancien (enclos 16), doté d’une palissade de poteaux placée dans la zone enclose, est vraisemblablement implanté dans le courant du ixe siècle. Un second (enclos 1), accompagné de trois enclos satellites en fer à cheval, lui est un peu postérieur, implanté dans le cou-rant du viiie siècle. La datation de ceux du second groupe, plus haut sur le versant, est plus délicate, mais l’utilisation de ceux-ci est avérée au moins jusqu’au vie siècle et vraisemblablement au-delà. Certains de ces enclos présentent des pierres déposées en couronne dans les comblements finaux des fossés, parmi lesquelles au moins deux stèles en cal-caire, fragmentées. Malgré la fouille manuelle et intégrale des structures, aucun fragment d’os humain n’a été retrouvé ni dans les comblements des fossés ni à l’extérieur. Cette absence de sépulture, ces couronnes de pierres, cette palissade questionnent quant à la fonction de ces ensembles d’enclos. D’autant plus qu’au iie siècle av. J.-C., trois petites fosses parfaitement alignées et espacées sont creusées et accueillent trois inhumés, placés tous trois en position assise et le regard tourné vers l’est et la vallée de la Font Noire.
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Dates and versions

hal-02797104 , version 1 (05-06-2020)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-02797104 , version 1

Cite

Isabelle Kerouanton, Bruno Boulestin. Au pied du Camp de Recoux, le Champ des Rochers à Soyaux (Charente) : de l'occupation néolithique au complexe funéraire et/ou cultuel de la fin de l'âge du Bronze et de l'âge du Fer. Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 2020, 117 (1), pp.103-132. ⟨hal-02797104⟩
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