|Place:||Bourg Saint-Pair||Grid Ref:||329.2 2341.15 (FR)|
|County:||Ille-et-Vilaine , France||Saint(s):||none|
Davies et al/2000, 263--66, `Bourg Saint-Pair is a suburb of the small town of Bais, which lies at the centre of the eastern edge of Brittany, 31km east south east of Rennes. Bais is situated near the top of a south-facing slope, at 74m above sea level, overlooking the valley of the Berre, in the flat countryside of the Rennes basin; the bedrock is Brioverian shale. This is good agricultural land and the area has plenty of settlements.
Bourg Saint-Pair is 300m north of the parish church of Bais and lies on the Roman road from Angers to Rennes. The word `Pair' is a corruption of the name Pierre, also corrupted locally as `Père'. The cadastral map of 1827 shows that a chapel of St Pierre, with appurtenant land of over 22,500m2 to the north of the chapel, had originally been located at Bourg Saint-Pair (ADIetV 3P 5247 Bais section H1); the excavated cemetery lay within the southern part of the chapel land. Neither the layout of the 1827 settlement nor that of the modern settlement appears to reflect the lines of the underlying features.
Prior to the discovery of the cemetery, which included 26 `Roman' burials, material from the 1st to 4th centuries AD had been discovered during field-walking of this area. A large hoard of 424 coins, ingots, and rings was also found 300m north of Bourg Saint-Pair, in 1903; it consisted mainly of coins of c. 740 (Guigon/1994, 86).
The large Merovingian cemetery [has]...96 Merovingian graves [which] include 23 limestone sarcophagi, 65 slate `coffins' (cist-graves), and 8 dug graves (mainly of children), most of which were arranged in `fan' shapes, which were interpreted as family groups; the earliest were orientated east-west (with head to the west), diverging progressively over time towards north-south. The associated finds suggest a date at the end of the 6th or beginning of the 7th century for the burials. There were also 9 later burials.
Before the central middle ages a chapel was built in the Merovingian burial ground, 21 new burials disturbing the older burials'.