Fortified 14th-century castle and moat discovered under hotel in France

International news
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 14th-century medieval castle, including a moat, hidden beneath the courtyard of a historic hotel in France. Jewelry, pots, pans and padlocks were among the artifacts recovered, offering clues about the nobility who used the castle for nearly a century.

In spring 2023, archaeologists at the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) excavated the courtyard and cellars of the Lagorce Hotel, which was built in the 18th century atop the ruins of a medieval castle known as the Château de l'Hermine. The castle, located in Vannes, a village on the west coast of the Brittany region, was built as a fortress and residence for John IV, Duke of Brittany, in 1381.

From the 10th to 16th centuries, Brittany was a medieval feudal state, established after the Vikings were expelled from the region. Essentially a tiny country, the Duchy of Brittany was ruled by a line of hereditary dukes. When John IV came to power in 1365, he began to build numerous house-fortresses throughout Brittany, with Château de l'Hermine becoming the seat of the Duchy.

But the castle was used for only a century before it fell into disrepair when John IV's grandson, Francis II, moved the capital of the duchy out of Vannes. Renovations in the 18th to 20th centuries turned the building at different times into a hotel, then a law school and finally government offices built on top of the original 14th century castle.

By Kristina Killgrove