The "Musée départemental des Antiquités de la Seine-Maritime" (Museum of Antiquities, in Rouen) is among the few museums in France to display some vestiges of the Viking incursions : two brooches found in 1865 in a female tomb in the Seine valley and arms found during dredging in the river Seine.
Its Romanesque lapidary artefacts originate from prestigious monuments in the vicinity of Rouen and the Seine valley :
- The capitals of St Georges in Boscherville which belonged to the 12th century cloister had been buried during its reconstruction in the 16th century. They once again saw the light of day during the destruction of the cloister in the 19th century and initially belonged to two great Norman figures, Hyacinthe Langlois and Auguste Le Prévost, before entering the museum.
- The statue and the capitals originating from Rouen cathedral are among the rare sculpted artefacts from before the 13th century to have survived. The capital was unearthed in 1832 during consolidation works on the foundations of the western door. The statue, which was re-used in the 16th century in the crepidoma of the lantern tower, was dismantled and transferred to the museum in 1834 during the installation of the new lantern tower in cast iron.
It is also the case that the majority of the precious works of art originate from the great Norman abbeys :
- The cross of the abbey "du Valasse" was fortunately saved from the Revolutionary confiscations by a parishioner who hid it for a number of years before returning it to the new owners of the abbey. The latter sold it to the museum in 1843, through the intervention of Auguste Le Prévost.
- The ivory head of a tau-cross appears in the museum's catalogues between 1840 and 1845, but it was not until 1868, in the hand of abbot Cochet, that it was recorded as originating from Jumièges. We are thus unsure of the origins of this very rare object.
- The crosiers of the abbey of St Amand in Rouen were discovered on two separate occasions, the first being in 1856, during the digging of the "rue de la République", as part of the major urban development works in Rouen, and the second in 1864 during specific works. Like the crosiers of Jumièges, they are evidence of the prosperity of two of the very great Benedictine abbeys of the Seine valley.
- As for the two ivories of Salerno, the Dream of Joseph and the Oliphant, these were acquired in a Paris antique shop in the first case, and in a major public auction in the second.
It was again to urban development works that we owe the objects from daily life: gaming pieces unearthed during works carried out for the major road excavations of the 19th century, pottery found during repair works in the courtyard of the "Palais de Justice" in Rouen, in whose courtyards a remarkable 12th century building was found.
Great names from the history and the conservation of the national heritage come up again and again in association with many of these acquisitions, Hyacinthe Langlois, Auguste Le Prévost, abbé Cochet, and also Thaurin who patiently followed all the urban development works in Rouen in the 19th century. But it was above all to the first curator of the museum, Achille Deville, that the main homage is due: between 1831 and 1848, he had the foresight to purchase on behalf of the museum, a number of pieces that were particularly representative of Norman art.
Before the Normans : the Vikings Sculpture and architectural fragments Fine art (gold and silver work, ivories) Ceramics and objects of everyday life