Rennes-Carhaix Road

Remarks of the route

 

This route stretch, of the very long way that crosses France from Lyon (Lugdunum) to the Point of Saint Mathieu (Gesocribate), goes through Bretagne (whose antique name is Armorique) from East (Rennes/Condate) and West (Carhaix/Vorgium) for about 150 km.

Fathom and study in details where the roman way used to pass has been the object of the doctorate research of Prof. Jean-Yves Eveillard (e06 – Eveillard) of Brest University in 1975.

In his study he made use of the ancient register of land property maps, of ancient and modern names and of the exploration of the territory, evaluating on the spot the possible variations of the lay out.

Along the 150 Km of the way illustrated here, neither terracement works nor bridges or cuts since the roads sticks to the land and its variations following it smoothly and astutely trying constantly to stay aligned.

The numerous water streams are forded thanks to short breadths and closeness to sources. However, when coming across boggy lands, the lay out had to give up the straight line.

Today many stretches lay upon modern road (Route Nationale 164) other can still be run through secondary ways or land roads but many more are totally unrecognizable because of the rearrangements introduced by the register of land properties undertaken in France between 1950 and 1970.

However one can spot many crossways with other ancient roman ways or even of earlier of the Armorique, that will be flagged when describing each segment.

mp (milia passum = 1482 m)
N.B. The numeration of segments start from Rennes

segmentmpMODERN NAMEANCIENT NAMECOORDINATEquota
m
MUNICIPALITYDISTRICTREGION
RENNESCONDATE48.111800, -1.684722 40RENNESILLE-ET-VILAINEBRETAGNA(FR)
1 - linkXLA SALLE48.122216, -1.876087 54LA CHAPELLE THOUARAULTILLE-ET-VILAINEBRETAGNA(FR)
2 - linkVIIIIFFENDICAD FINES48.128330, -2.035556 37IFFENDICILLE-ET-VILAINEBRETAGNA(FR)
3 - linkXIILA MAISON ROUGE48.180227, -2.247017 91LOSCOUËT-SUR-MEUCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
4 - linkIXLE PLESSISMATRINIACA48.185000, -2.420884 140MERDRIGNACCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
5 - linkVIILE BREIL-TUAL48.173611, -2.558333 170PLÉMETCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
6 - linkVIILES PARPAREUX48.178564, -2.688389 166LOUDÉACCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
7 - linkVIIISAINT-CARADEC48.190556, -2.851389 103SAINT-CARADECCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
8 - linkVIIMÛR-DE-BRETAGNE48.200833, -2.986111 130MÛR-DE-BRETAGNECÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
9 - linkXGOUAREC48.226667, -3.180000 158GOUARECCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
10 - linkVIIROSTRENEN48.236258, -3.317200 236ROSTRENENCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
11 - linkVIIROSQUELVEN48.256667, -3.430833 174GLOMELCÔTES-D'ARMORBRETAGNA(FR)
12 - linkVIICARHAIXVORGIUM48.276312, -3.574182 138CARHAIXFINISTÈREBRETAGNA(FR)

This route dates back to the mid-1st century A.D. to connect the new roman city of Vorgium Roman founded in 20 A.D. to Rennes by Emperor Claudius.

At that time, while several North South runs, connecting the shores of the sea, already existed in Armorique (ancient name for Brittany), there were no East West cross links.

The Rennes-Carhaix stretch, explored in this study, is part of a longer transversal route (see R. Kerviler (k04 – Kerviler) which from Lyon to Orléans, to Rennes, to Carhaix, and to the Pointe Saint Mathieu (?) (Gesocribate) formed an axis road of undoubted military and economic significance for Gaul. Proof of this is its use throughout the Middle-Ages until the 18th century, when the first modern roads were built in France.

The decline, and not the abandonment, began in the mid-3rd century AD with the barbarian invasions and the lack of maintenance.

It was used by Breton Saints (Saint Brieuc, Saint Elouan, Saint Golven, …) that marked their passage with many Chapels dedicated to them.

It was certainly used by the Kings of Brittany in Carolingian times as evidenced by the various feudal motte that we find along the way. It was subsequently used by pilgrims who went to various Bretons shrines (Grand-Saint-Méen, …) and by monks who founded several Monasteries and Abbeys (Bon Repos, Saint Jacques, …) in the course of the XI-XII centuries.

Testimony of the passage of pilgrims is the leprosarium Saint Lazare founded in the 12th century by the Lords of Montfort-sur-Meu.

During the 14th century, the leprosarium hospital was closed and transferred as Hospital Saint Lazare to Montfort-sur-Meu, which over time had developed along with two new localities named Vezin and Bréteil.In addition to this event, the Hundred Years war has contributed to the abandonment of the segment Saint Méen-Rennes.

Other urban changes with grafting of orthogonal roads (Merdrignac, Gouarec) corrupted and interrupted the regularity of the route.

Only in the 18th century with the decisive intervention of the Duke of Aiguillon modern road construction started: and part of the Roman route from Rostrenen to Carhaix was occupied by a new road.

But still on the “Carte de Cassini” (César-François Cassini de Thury, 1714 – 1784), on the “Atlas itinéraire d’Ogée” and on the Napoleonic land register existing sections of the original Roman route are shown.

Road works were interrupted by the French revolution. The Roman road has partially survived until the 19th century.

This is when road works restarted and the Rennes – Carhaix was then completed.

Today the modern road (Route Nationale 164) that roughly follows the Roman road has been replaced by a new 4 lanes route that has destroyed at different points remaining traces of the ancient Roman axis.