Aqueduct

The Gallo-Roman town of Saintes (Santonum Mediolanum) was connected to the surrounding places by the aqueducts that supplied baths and public fountains. Fresh water was brought to Saintes by 2 successive aqueducts. A third conduit has been discovered in 2010.


The earliest, probably built during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (about the 20 AD) had its origin in Copertus Fons, the latin name of Fontcouverte, exactly in a place called Font-Morillon. It worked at most fifty years.

 

The flow of this aqueduct was quite modest: 3000 m3 every day in the beginning, but the accumulation of calcareous concretions reduced gradually this number. In order to give the line a regular slope, a bridge with 27 great arches was built (les Arcs); the highest arche was 16 m high. The bridge had there 160 m long. Man should not forget to mention the other bridge, located in Hautmont, with his 62 arches, 29 m in height, crossing a valley on a lenght of 400 m. In le Plantis des Neuf Puits, the gallery was excavated til 16.60 m below the ground surface.

 

This aqueduct was replaced later by a larger work. Is picked to lead the Saints to abundant water fountains of Douhet and Vénérand and they ran in 2 big masonries covered with big flat stones. These two pipelines came together in the Tonne’s Valley. The water then reached Fontcouverte thanks to an underground canal. The water then followed the original abandoned canal, except on the ancient bridges that were reused by raising the walls of the constuction. In the section of le Plantis des Neuf Puits, the two pipes remained in simultaneous use, because of an insufficient slope of the land which does not allow the new aqueduct to absorb the water rate (almost 20,000 m3 per day). In fact, some sections were poorly built, so some very important infiltration, added to the calcareous concretions on the walls may have reduced him to less than 8000 m3.

 

The presence of this aqueduct has always interested archaeologists and also engineers. However, it was familiar to local people and known as the "slab".
Unfortunately, the cover slabs of stone pipes and arches were extensively re-used for new constructions, or pavements of some paths around.

 

In the few last years, research have been undertaken under the leadership of the “Society of Archaeology and History of the Charente-Maritime” (SAHCM), digging several sites to complete and improve the knowledge about those constructions. The results are yearly published in a Bulletin, and in a Journal concerning especially these roman aqueducts.

 

Today remain only a few arches, and in poor condition. However, work undertaken to extend the golf Rouyer-Guillet 9 to 18 holes have first allowed to identify the remaining arches, then valuate them by integrating them into the golf course. This makes its charm and originality!