The first floor is dedicated to the past of Souvigny, with an annual exposition

Temporaries expositions

1998 "La Vierge au Pays des Bourbons"
1999 "Nouveau regard sur la Bible de Souvigny"
2000 "Découverte de l’orgue"
2001 "Espérance, Le mécénat religieux des ducs de Bourbon à la fin du Moyen Âge"
2002 "La frise monumentale romane"
2003 "Des tombeaux, des reliques et des saints, Découverte des tombeaux et gisants des saints abbés de Cluny"
2004 "La restauration du patrimoine dans le département de l’Allier"
2005 "Le pilier roman de Souvigny"
2006 "Petit abécédaire de l’Art Sacré"
2007 "Cluny en Auvergne"
2008 "Saints en Bourbonnais"
2009 "Bourbonnais baroque"
2010 "La vie bénédictine"

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.
According to its geographical situation in the middle of France, the Souvigny area is in the border of historical, cultural and linguistic influences of the surrounding regions:

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.
First Celts come in this area around -750 BC, with an iron equipment. The Souvigny area is at this time at the border of three powerful Gaul tribes: Arverni, Aedui and Bituriges. These geographical limits will determine later the four big dioceses of Autun, Bourges, Nevers and Clermont.

3) During the gallo-roman period, Bourbon-l'Archambault is the only "vicus", a roman provincial civilian settlement that sprang up close to and because of a nearby official roman site, attested in the Souvigny area. Rests of thermae, and baths, with marbor plates, and stone, lead or wooden pipes, as well as capitals and mosaics, confirm its importance.
Traces of "villae" or gallo-roman habitations have been found in Souvigny (villa de l'Eglantier), Besson, Chemilly, Gipcy, Meillers, Noyant, Saint-Menoux and Neuvy (villa de Vallières). However, they are difficult to date accurately.

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.

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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.
During the first half of the XIIIth century, strongholds and fortifications are erected in Bourbonnais, and the most important ones belonged to the Bourbons: Bourbon l'Archambault (visit of fortifications and old town is possible during all Summer), Murat (which remains of the fortifications are the biggests of the Département) and Chantelle.

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.
The South Barn is dedicated to the past of Souvigny village of the area of the center of France to the surprisingly rich inheritance : Souvigny, cradle of the Bourbons and Elder daugther of Cluny.

The Whole of Souvigny priory (XI-XV-XVIIIth. centuries, gives one of the best preserved image of the spiritual radiance and the artistic magnificence of the ancient religious order of Cluny, which owned more than 1 000 foundations in the XII th. century.
Souvigny was considered one of the "five daughter" of Cluny.

In the Xth. century, the monks settled in Souvigny under the protection of the first lords of Bourbon, who constitued the nucleus of Bourbonnais at the borders of Auvergne, Berry, Burgundy. Two holy abbots of Cluny, Mayeul and Odilon, died and were buried in Souvigny. The Bourbons, ancestors of the kings of France, made the choise of being buried in this church. The roman St Peter and St Paul church, altered in the gothic times, reflects this prestigious history : "St Mayeul's and St Odilon grave", capitals, funeral chapel and statues of the Bourbons.

Traduction : Louis Fongarnand


"Cluny en Auvergne", Event 2007.