Thursday, 3 April 2014

Gallo-Roman Corseul

The CuriosolitesCuriosolitae or Coriosolites were a powerful pre-Breton Gaulish/Celtic tribe living in an area now in the eastern part of Brittany [between St. Brieuc and St. Malo] up to Roman times. They were mentioned by Julius Caesar and by Pliny and it is assumed that Corseul was named after them.
Pre-Breton Celtic tribes in Brittany
 The Coriosolites controlled the Channel Islands and made money through trade with Britain. In these days a row across the channel would take a night and a day (twenty four hours) and was a lot safer than travelling across land into Europe. The British, it can be assumed, shared a similar language and culture to the Gauls.
Corseul, in Roman times, was called Fanum Martis ('Temple of Mars') [video] and was the capital of this Gallo-Roman province. Its position was at the crossroads of important trading routes and the Romans forced the Coriosolites to leave Aletum (Aleth) near St. Malo to populate their new city.
In its heyday in the 1st century A.D., Corseul covered an area of 110 hectares (about 160 football pitches) and had a population of more than 10,000 people. It had Roman villas, a forum, baths and temples. 

The most famous of the temples was, of course Fanum Martis, 'the Temple of Mars' which had a courtyard measuring 250m x 200m and a tower reaching up 22m (the size of a seven-storey building).
The population trooped back to Aleth when the Romans left. Since then most of the site has been cleared and stripped over the years for new buildings. It is said that many of the ramparts of St. Malo were built using Corseul stones and that Chateau Montafilan, just down the road, also claimed a fair share of the bricks.

Corseul, it is suggested, has been forever cursed for its covert hostility to the great St. Malo, when he was denied a cup and wine to perform Easter Mass at the pagan temple on his missionary visit to the district.

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