Cinq-Mars Tower

The Cinq-Mars Tower is an ancient solid tower that overlooks the Loire Valley in Indre-et-Loire, about twenty kilometers west of Tours, France.

Cinq-Mars Tower

The Cinq-Mars Tower (La pile de Cinq-Mars) is an ancient solid tower that overlooks the Loire Valley in Indre-et-Loire, about twenty kilometers west of Tours, France.

The tower, nearly 30 meters high and exceptionally well-preserved, stands on the slope of a hill along which evidence of human occupation in ancient times is abundant.

This is very likely a Gallo-Roman funerary monument (mausoleum or cenotaph), and it is related to the heterogeneous group of similar buildings found in the southwest of France, particularly in Charente-Maritime and Gers. However, it differs in its architecture — a brick facing covers a masonry core — and its decoration consisting of twelve panels adorned with geometric motifs whose meaning is unknown but which make it a unique monument in France. Its location, outside of a funerary enclosure, also seems unusual.

Since the 19th century, the time of the first comprehensive studies and organized excavations, numerous theories, more or less fanciful, have been proposed to explain its origin and function, some even attempting to explain the name “Cinq-Mars”; none have been fully convincing. The major breakthrough of the early 21st century for understanding this monument is the discovery in 2005, in its immediate surroundings, of structures (podium, building) and decorative elements (statue) that show the tower is not an isolated building; it should be considered one component of a larger site, which could be that of the tomb or monument to the glory of a Turon or Roman dignitary boasting notable military exploits and built in the second half of the 2nd century or early 3rd century. The Cinq-Mars Tower, possibly built later, would then be a building designed to mark the location of this mausoleum or cenotaph and to even more explicitly demonstrate the power and/or glory of this individual. The family of this dignitary may have lived nearby, in a site yet to be discovered, possibly on the plateau north of the tower.

  • References

    image: “File:La pile de Cinq-Mars.JPG” by Yannick Bonnet (yannick.bonnet@laposte.net) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5. retrieved from https://openverse.org/image/f423f37a-91c6-4c23-8949-303e47913135

Share

Other places in France