Rediscovering the Hidden Château de l’Hermine: A 600-Year-Old Castle Beneath a French Hotel

In a remarkable archaeological discovery, the Château de l’Hermine has resurfaced beneath a historic hotel in Vannes, France. This 600-year-old castle, originally built in the 1380s, was abandoned a century later. Now, its remains have been uncovered about 10 feet beneath the former hotel’s courtyard.

Unveiling the Ducal Residence

Archaeologists unexpectedly revealed the ground floor of an imposing building during excavation. This structure corresponds to the ducal residence, featuring a central passage connecting the north door (built into the city-side facade) to another door framed by two large towers overlooking the exterior moat. The ground floor spans approximately 137 feet long and 55 feet wide, with sturdy walls nearly 20 feet thick.

Medieval castle ruins

Architectural Marvels

The Château de l’Hermine boasts several architectural marvels:

  1. Staircases: Among them is a “ceremonial staircase,” remarkably preserved, adorned with decorative elements.
  2. Plumbing System: Evidence of a plumbing system suggests advanced infrastructure for its time.
  3. Moat: The remains of a moat surround the castle, emphasizing its defensive features.
  4. Artifacts: Archaeologists discovered keys, clothing, shoe buckles, coins, cooking utensils, and even jewelry left behind by the castle’s residents.

Historical Context

The castle’s story begins with Jean IV, Duke of Brittany, who inherited the Duchy of Brittany in 1365. In 1381, he began constructing fortresses, including the Château de l’Hermine in Vannes. The single-phase construction highlights the importance of financial and human resources invested in this grand edifice.

The Château de l’Hermine’s emergence from the depths of history provides a compelling glimpse into its century-long legacy. As we explore its chambers and artifacts, we unravel the fascinating tapestry of medieval life.

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