Gallo-Roman settlements: A long period of peace and prosperity
The Roman road
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Relay station at Abbeville-Saint-Lucien (Oise). This cross section, which was cut parallel to the Roman road, revealed a large vicus. A vicus relay station at Vermand (Aisne).
Relay station at
Abbeville-Saint-Lucien (Oise).
This cross section, which was cut parallel to the Roman road, revealed a large vicus.
A vicus relay station at Vermand (Aisne).
This very straight paved road was bordered by two twenty-meter strips of land, which were in turn flanked by ditches. This colonial road in Africa looks like an ancient road. Natives and herds of animals traveled on the large packed-earth verges. A private, hollowed-out road leading from a large Gallo-Roman villa towards the bottom of the valley.
This very straight paved road was bordered by two twenty-meter strips of land, which were in turn flanked by ditches. This colonial road in Africa looks like an ancient road. Natives and herds of animals traveled on the large packed-earth verges. A private, hollowed-out road leading from a large Gallo-Roman villa towards the bottom of the valley.
 
The relay stations
Relay stations along Roman roads — like at Abbeville-Saint-Lucien (Oise), perhaps at Rogy (Somme), and at Quesnel (Somme) — can rarely be seen from the air. It appears that most vici relay stations have been covered over by current cities and towns.
Others, such as the one at Andechy (Somme), were not hidden by modern buildings, but still remain invisible to the aerial archaeologist because they consist of miscellaneous light structures. They are found during earthworks for large-scale construction projects, and are rarely as visible as the one at Vermand (Aisne).
 
Straight lines
Aerial prospecting has revealed that on either side of a narrow central section that was generally paved with stone (and no doubt reserved for official couriers or the army), there were wide bands of earth flanked by ditches. These findings have been confirmed by excavation. These wide lateral bands of packed earth were probably used by the natives and their herds of animals. We find the same arrangement in the nineteenth century in France's colonies. These roads ran quite straight, across cleared and treeless spaces that were preferably plateaus (to avoid ambushes). The major villas are nearly all located a few hundred meters on either side of these roads. Cities and towns were linked by these viae publicae, although some of them were located on a diverticulum that ran diagonally off in a straight line from the main Roman road. This is the case at Vendeuil-Caply (Oise).

These diverticula were probably part of a vast secondary network (viae vicinalis), which is also quite visible from the air. In certain cases, they overlap Gallic roads. There are also non-paved Roman roads hollowed into the ground, some of which were private (viae privatae), like those that ran from villas.


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