The first floor is dedicated to the past of Souvigny, with an annual exposition
1998 "La Vierge au Pays des Bourbons"
tThe second floor of the northern barn is dedicated to the Souvigny area. A collection of scale models, archeological collections and boards recounts its history.
1) Human presence in Souvigny area is proven, from the middle paleolithic (around -180,000 to -150,000 years ago). The site of Meillers, during this period, is an important workshop of lithic reduction (quartzite), this up until -100,000 to -40,000 BC, for racloirs founded on the sites of Gipcy and Le Montet.
2) Traces of population during the neolithic period, around -5,000 to -2,000 BC have been found in the sites of Marigny, Noyant and Besson (burial cave and presence of ceramic ware workshops). Exchanges and population movements happened in the Souvigny area, it let material traces dated from the Bronze Age: La Jolivette in Chemilly and the tumulus of Joux in Saint Menoux. Fragments of vases and ancient bronze items have been found in this area.
4) Following the great invasions of the second century, the Roman Empire founded, during the IIIrd century, posts of mercenaries that came from Central and East-Europe. During the Vth century, there was a second wave of invasions, from Central and East-Europe (Sarmatians and Taifals from Ukraine, Alamanni and Marcomanni from Germany, Franks and Burgundians). The Souvigny area was during this period at the border of the territory of Visigoths on the left bank of Allier, and the territory of the Burgundians on the right riverbank.
In the VIth century, Franks conquered many territories and extend their possessions to Auvergne. Thereby, the first sire of Bourbon, Aymard, and the Archambault, had germanic names.
5) Located at the limit of four dioceses, Autun, Bourges, Nevers and Clermont, and of great seats of romanesque art of the center of France, Bourbonnais herited of different architectural influences. Most of the romanesque churches of the Souvigny area constitute an homogeneous group, combining tradition of Auvergne and Bourgogne. Some architectural influences from Berry can be found in Saint-Menoux, while others from Auvergne are more present in Meillers and in Auty-Issards. Gothic architecture in the Souvigny area mainly concerns the Church of Souvigny, since the Sainte Chapelle of Bourbon l'Archambault has practically vanished.
6) Many fortified houses have been converted into seigniorial residences from the XVIIth century. The most typical example is the castle of Vieux-Bost in Besson.
7) During the modern era, the Souvigny area is marked by a early industrialisation, in particular from 1755 with the creation of the glass factory of Souvigny, the spa activity of Bourbon l'Archambault (mainly developed in the XVIIth century) or the coal mine of Noyant from the XIXth century.
8) During the XIXth century, this area is characterized by a kind of fence, the bocage, of meadows and hedges, which still remains today, and by an agricultural exploitation system, the métayage, a kind of sharecropping. The locaterie brings together men and animals on a smaller exploitation area.
Traduction : Louis Fongarnand