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Roman Forum
Archaeological Museum, Bavay

Extensive remains of the Roman forum and other major buildings

Part of the most important collection of Roman bronzes in Europe

Chance discovery
During the 1940 invasion, a bombing raid badly damaged part of the border town of Bavay, leading to the chance discovery of Roman remains.

Capital city of Roman Belgium
The site was extensively excavated by archaeologists after the war. They were able to identify what they unearthed as a large Gallo-Roman forum - the town square and market place.

From Roman writings, they knew this was "Bagacum" - once the capital city of the old Belgic tribe, the Nervii. In Roman Belgium, it was an important military post, trading and administrative centre with law courts.

Biggest forum outside Italy
The Romans built the largest forum outside Italy right here in the town: it was a gigantic public building, 200 metres long by120 metres wide! Archaeologists found the complete foundations of a basilica - the Roman "town hall", an underground gallery, and porticos of other buildings - making it one of the best finds of Roman remains in France.

Centre of Roman road network
Seven straight Roman roads met at Bavay, linking the town with Gaul (France) to the south and west, to Belgium and to Cologne in Germany - making it an important stopping-off place.

The archaeologists found traces of the ruts in the forum, where carts and pedestrians had followed these routes across the town centre.

Roman Festival recreates life in Roman Bavay - in September

An exhibition in the site museum shows many of the key finds discovered by archaeologists - bronzes, ceramics, pottery and glass. These include pots, vases and dishes representions of Roman gods - made in potteries at Bavay. Many small bronze figures were also found from a hoard hidden by a local bronze-founder.

See life in Gaul under the Romans!
Now the museum has reconstructed the Gallo-Roman site in 3D computer graphics, just as it existed in the second century AD. You can see what life was really like in Gaul under the Romans.

The award-winning interactive show "Return to Bagacum" is based on archaeological evidence about trade, religion and craft manufacturing, told as a vivid fictional story:

Return to Bagacum - interactive show at Bavay Archaeological Museum

Julie is seeking to publish her thesis on archaeology; she is rather too interested in a statuette of Mercury. By magic, she finds herself back in the second century AD. Her mission is to return to the present day… with a bit of help from the audience!

YOU can join in and change the story
In the audio-visual theatre, you'll see a vast screen, with filmed actors set in digital modelling of the dwellings and buildings around the forum, using reconstructions of everyday objects found at the site. You can hear the commentary in a choice of languages, including English.

Bavay-Roman forum reconstructed  Bavay Roman shops reconstructed  Bavay actors in Roman religious service
Scenes from the interactive show, mixing real actors on film and 3D computer reconstructions of Roman Bavay, based on archaeological findings. (
Left to Right: Roman Forum, shops, a Roman religious service.)

The story moves through the shops and their crafts such as basketwork, pottery, shoemaking; the public activities - trials and religious ceremonies;

Each spectator has a joystick and buttons at their seat to influence the course of the show and help Julie achieve her mission!.

Bavay Roman museum interactive show  Bavay Roman museum interactive show - seat controls
The audience watching the 3D show can join in and change what happens in the story - using control buttons and joystick at each seat.

Background information

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Location: 2 rue de Gommeries, BP41 59570 BAVAY
Directions: In the town centre.
Rough guide to opening:

OPEN daily, CLOSED Tuesdays
April - Sept 9am - 6pm
Oct - March,
weekdays (not Tue) : 9am-12.30 and 2-6pm
Sat / Sun: 10.30-12.30am  and 2-6pm
Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 27 63 13 95

Web Link




Archéosite © Copyright 1999-2007 Invicta Media. Last updated 30th August 2007