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16th century castle unearthed in heart of Lille city centre

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Photo: JP Pepek Balloïde/AFP
15:20 CET+01:00
Archaeological excavations uncovered the ruins of a sixteenth century fortress on Tuesday - in the very centre of Lille.

The existence of the castle had never been proven before the excavations, which were carried out by Inrap, the National Institute of Preventative Archaeological Research.

The excavations covered a 5,800 m² area close to the business district Euralilie and residential area called Fives, where a housing development is soon to be built.

Archaeologists were surprised to find that the site had been occupied since 1 BC, and uncovered traces of the castle's inhabitants.


A bird's-eye view. Photo: JP Pepek Balloïde/AFP

The remains of the building. Photo: JP Pepek Balloïde/AFP

A silver spoon (front and back) from the 16th century. Photo: Dominique Bossut/AFP

“It was quite a luxurious fortified castle, with modern amenities that you wouldn't expect to find,” archaeologist Vincent Lascour told AFP.

Lascour said that the finding of crockery, including glassware from Venice and silver spoons, in the castle's moat reflected “the privileged lifestyle of the residents”.

Beautifully preserved ceramic plates from the 16th century. Photo: Dominique Bossut/AFP

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16th century stemmed glasses. Photo: Dominique Bossut/AFP


But life in the castle wasn't all fancy dinners.

Metal cannonballs, and stones showing heavy impact were also found close to the fortress, demonstrating the conflict between France and Flanders, and Lille's important strategic position.

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