Archaeological treasures

From Neolithic times to the French Royal Navy

Lots of historical treasures have been uncovered by archaeological excavations in Saint-Malo. A trip back in time will take you to the Neolithic era in Lillemer, where Vikings lived on the Rance... and to the time of the great naval tall ships at Saint-Malo.

The neolithic site of Lillemer

The village of Lillemer is located between the Marais Blanc and the Marais Noir west of Mont-Dol. Remnants of the Neolithic period, dating back to 4000 BC, were discovered during archaeological excavations in 2001.

Thanks to the peaty soil, the remains were found in an exceptional state of preservation. A monumental dolmen entrance was discovered, presuming the existence of a Neolithic enclosure system. Thousands of knapped flints, ceramics, decorative objects and the bones of an adult have been excavated.

The digs carried out in the village are displayed in a neolithic museum. Visits are free, and open at the same time as the town hall.

The corsair wrecks of La Natière

Two frigates were lost in the 18th century in the bay of Saint-Malo: the Dauphine and the Aimable Grenot. The wrecks of the ships were accidentally discovered by a Saint-Malo diver in 1995, on the Natière rocks.

The Dauphine, which could carry 300 barrels, went down with 180 sailors on board. Built in Le Havre, it was wrecked on December 11, 1704. The royal frigate, the Aimable Grenot, was lost at sea on May 6, 1759 on her way to Cadiz to sell Breton sails.

Since 1999, the two ships have been regularly explored by archaeologists and have given up more than 3,000 items - swords and pistols, clothing, ceramics and even a surgeon's tools.

It is one of the world's richest underwater archaeological sites. In 2019 of a maritime museum will open to display the findings.

The Viking camp

The remains of a Viking camp survive in the cove of Vigneux in Saint-Suliac, on the banks of the river Rance. The site seems to have been a fortified encampment occupied by Normans in the 10th century. A set of stone walls is visible at low tide.

It is assumed that a wooden fortification was perched on a promontory of land and surrounded by a stone wall later. An external trench , certainly protected by wooden piles, served as an inner port to welcome the drakkars into the shelter on the land side.

To visit the Viking camp, take the Mont Garrot trail, 4 kilometres long. A promontory above the estuary of the Rance, Mont-Garrot offers a magnificent panorama of Saint-Suliac and the cove of Vigneux. The departure point is 800 meters from Saint-Suliac at the Moulin de la Chaise.