In Switzerland, the construction of a building has uncovered new remains in the municipality of Saint-Maurice, in the Valais canton. The southern part of a church dating from the High Middle Ages (6th-7th centuries) has been uncovered, as well as a cemetery containing 250 grave stones.
The existence of the place of worship was partially known because the place had been excavated by Louis Blondel, a Genevan archaeologist, in 1951. Recent excavations, more complete, confirmed that the funeral chapel of Our Lady, erected at the same time as the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, was regularly used until the thirteenth century. The building then fell into ruin while the cemetery was used until the 17th Century.
According to the local press, the 800 m2 necropolis, with two-thirds of the graves unearthed, could include remnants of local community representatives and pilgrims.
These works and discoveries confirm a reality already well known to Valaisans: “In Saint-Maurice, there is a city under the city,” says Caroline Brunetti, the cantonal archaeologist. “So much so that we cannot grab a shovel without bringing in the archaeologists,” jokes a local elected official.
A center of Western Christianity, Saint-Maurice has enjoyed international renown for many centuries, particularly with the founding of its abbey in 515.