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In The Laténium: The drama of La Tène

This is the story visitors can listen to in the Celts Room

which tells how the artifacts seen in the museum came to be buried:

It hadn't stopped raining for many weeks. The fields were flooded. It had looked like a fine crop, before it started raining. People watched the level of the lake rise; the flooded river was about to overflow its banks.

As others had done in the last few days, the families in Wavre decided to pack up, and move to higher ground. Everyone gathered their belongings. They loaded baskets of dishes and food into the carts. They packed their tools. The men placed their weapons - their swords and lances - carefully wrapped in cloth, along the sides of the carts. They depended on horses to carry a part of the load. A few pigs had been caged and loaded into another cart. The worried women held the children close. The little ones couldn't understand the hurried, unplanned departure, which would take them away from their homes and play ground. It was going to take time to move, because the cows had rounded up and moved too.

When they got to the bridge, the wind was like a hurricane; thunder could be heard in the distance. The waters of the Thiele had never been so high. The crossing was going to be tricky, especially with the animals, but the roadway over the bridge had just been replaced, and nobody was too worried. The bridge pilings hadn't been replaced for nearly two generations, but no one gave a thought to their condition. The yowling of the dogs at the head of the convoy was covered by the deafening sound of rushing Thiele River, crashing past them.

They started over the bridge. Cartwheels creaked. The load shook and shifted. Women tried hard to hold onto sacks of food as best they could, and the children hid under covers in the backs of the carts. Men directed the caravan's progress, by running first to the head of the line to encourage the horses forward, then to the end, to ensure that all were moving in the right direction.

Their leader suddenly hesitated. It would have been safer to cross the carts one by one, to avoid overloading the bridge, but it was too late to go back. In their haste, they had taken the risk to cross together, as they usually did in good weather, when their carts were less heavily loaded.

At that moment the bridge gave a terrible grinding noise. A central pillar had cracked, and tilted, then was washed away by the flooded river. The pressure on the whole structure was too great: the bridge began to fall over on its side. In a few seconds, the entire convoy was swept into the rushing water by the collapsing bridge. Wooden beams, with the large stones that had held the roadway in place, collapsed on top of the terrified people. Imprisoned by the remains of the broken, twisted bridge, all drowned.

Their bodies remained buried in the river bed, and were never recovered...until archaeologists came to remove them from their long rest.

(Translated from the French by K. Epps)

 

Return to In The Latènium: The drama of La Tène Go back to The Celtic World: LaTène

 


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This page was updated on 22 February, 2004 by K. Epps

Unless otherwise mentioned, all photos are by Katharine Epps.
Sauf mention contraire les photos sont de Katharine Epps


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