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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Examining the nature of Late Iron Age urbanism in Gaul: Bibracte and the Sources de l’Yonne agglomeration

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


When did urbanism first emerge in temperate Europe and what form did it take? This question has preoccupied scholars of the European Iron Age for decades. Recently, with increasingly detailed data sets from a number of Late Iron Age (Late La Tène: 2nd-1st century BC) settlements (known as oppida), archaeologists have begun to reassess how we understand the scale and nature of these complexes and Iron Age urbanism in general. Through long-standing fieldwork at one of the pre-eminent oppida in Europe, Bibracte (Burgundy, France), this project is demonstrating that this proto-urban centre was far larger and less nucleated than previously imagined. Most notable is the discovery of a large, c. 120 hectare, unenclosed settlement around the Sources de l’Yonne (a major tributary of the Seine), just 3km from occupation on Mont Beuvray and contemporary with it. Discovery of the agglomeration at Sources de l’Yonne is necessitating a re-evaluation of how we understand the Bibracte complex and the nature of Iron Age ‘urbanism’ (Moore 2017).

The current project, which began in 2006, involves a multinational team working in conjuncture with the Centre Archéologique Européen (EPCC) based at Bibracte. Excavations in 2007 around the source of the Yonne, in co-operation with John Creighton (University of Reading), and on the terraces of La Grande Vente (2009-11), in conjunction with the Peter Haupt, Ines Klenner and Arno Braun (Johannes Gutenberg Universtat, Mainz) and Laura Cripps (Howard Community College, Maryland), revealed the extent and date of Late La Tène and Augustan occupation (Moore et al 2013). Since 2016, with the assistance of Ralf Hoppadietz (Leipzig), excavations have focused on examining the Gallo-Roman sanctuaries central to the agglomeration and at the source of the Yonne river (a tributary of the Seine). This has revealed that these overlie Late La Tène ritual structures, even perhaps explaining the reason for the location and role of the agglomeration (Moore and Hoppadietz 2017, 2018, 2019). Currently, post-excavation is underway to bring the results of all this work to publication in a Bibracte monograph.

This project has been variously funded by Bibracte EPCC, Durham University, the British Academy and Rust Foundation.

To find out more about research at Bibracte and links to interim reports go to:

Photogrammetry of Fanum 1 excavations 2018 (by Arnaud Meunier)

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Moore, T. (2017). Alternatives to urbanism? Reconsidering oppida and the urban question in Late Iron Age Europe. Journal of World Prehistory 30(3): 281-300.
  • Moore, T., Braun, A., Creighton, J., Cripps, L., Haupt, P., Klenner, I., Nouvel, P., Ponroy, C. & Schönfelder, M. (2013). Oppida, agglomerations and suburbia: The Bibracte environs and new perspectives on Late Iron Age urbanism in central-eastern France. European Journal of Archaeology 16(3): 491-517.
  • Creighton,J., Haselgrove, C., Lowther, P. & Moore, T. (2008). Becoming Roman in southern Burgundy: A field survey between Autun and Bibracte in the Arroux Valley (Saône-et-Loire), 2000-2003. Internet Archaeology (25).

Chapter in book

  • Moore, T & Hoppadietz, R (2019). La sanctuaire des Sources de l’Yonne. In Rapport intermédiaire 2018 du programme quadriennal de recherche 2017-2020 sur le Mont-Beuvray. Guichard, V BIBRACTE. 291-317.
  • Moore, T. & Hoppadietz, R. (2018). Le sanctuaire des Sources de l'Yonne. In Rapport intermédiaire 2017 du programme quadriennal de recherche 2017-2020 sur le Mont Beuvray. Guichard, V. Bibracte - Centre archéologique européen, Glux-en-Glenne. 307-324.
  • Moore, T. & Hoppadietz, R. (2016). Le sanctuaire de Sources de l'Yonne - 2016. In Programme quadriennal 2013-1016 de recherche sur le mont Beuvray, rapport annuel 2016, synthèse. Guichard, V. Glux-en-Glenne: Bibracte - Centre archéologique européen. 251-270.


From the Department of Archaeology

Further information

For further information, please contact Dr Tom Moore.

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