Ancenis.  Shipwrecks from the 17th and 18th centuries are reappearing on the Loire

Ancenis. Shipwrecks from the 17th and 18th centuries are reappearing on the Loire

Archaeologists have until October before the Loire rises. They will not remove the remains and will have to re-sand after the excavation is complete. (©echo)

“Such a concentration of wrecks in such a small area, with such a quality of preservation, we may not find any. Anne Hoyau, who is in charge of the dig, can hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of displaying her teams’ discoveries.

In front of a dozen journalists, three scraps with a length of several tens of meters are taking shape. Shipwrecks are an integral part of these ripraps. They are loaded with stones and lie on their sides. Archaeologists’ hypothesis: they would have served to “create a protective point for Cotton Island, preventing the Loire from devouring the land. »

Archaeologists must regularly moisten the wood to maintain its exceptional condition.
Archaeologists must regularly moisten the wood to maintain its exceptional condition. (©HD)

Research conducted when Loire regained her place will determine whether their hypothesis is confirmed or not, as “one of the ripraps is not well placed, which undermines our hypothesis without completely ruling it out.”

These preventive excavations were carried out by Inrap (National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research) as part of the Loire riverbed balancing program by VNF (Waterways of France). At the behest of the State, through Drac (Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs), the Pays de Loire has identified these wrecks, which will reveal information regarding the history, development and use of the river.

Thanks to the traces left on the wood, archaeologists will be able to determine the techniques and tools used.
Thanks to the traces left on the wood, archaeologists will be able to determine the techniques and tools used. (©HD)

The wood will speak

About 14 meters (the largest on site is 18 meters), the boats are folded
“a front and rear elevator that allowed them to load and unload more quickly on the banks”. These flat-bottom barges would therefore be placed here voluntarily at the end of their service life. It remains to let the wood speak, to find its essence, thanks to xylology. Then, dendrochronology will analyze the growth rings of the wood in order to obtain information about past events (origin, exact age, living conditions of the wood, etc.).

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