Oppida are prehistoric fortified hilltop settlements dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Many of them have been lost under later building, but we know of examples at Carcassonne (the Oppidum of Carsac), Uzès, Narbonne and near to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue, where there was once a temple to the Egyptian sun-god Ra.
The best example of an oppidum is at EnsÚrune, near to the modern town of Nissan-lez-EnsÚrune: Above the Le Malpas tunnel (Canal du Midi), not far from Béziers, the EnsÚrune hill fort (the Oppidum de Enserune) was occupied from 800 BC. It is one of the largest and oldest fortified towns around the Mediterranean Sea. Excavations, which began here in 1915, have revealed a succession of different occupations, pre-Greek, Greek and Roman, from the 6th century BC until the 1st century AD. The EnsÚrune Museum contains relics of Iberian, Greek, Celtic and Roman civilisation, while the hill fort itself is an example of ancient urban architecture, with panoramic views over the surrounding area.
From the EnsÚrune hill-top is a spectacular view of a circular marsh called Mondady drained in the Middle Ages and apportioned in segments for agricultural use, rather like slices of a pie. Narrow channels carry rain water into the centre of the pool. From there, the water travels back in the opposite direction, passing under the Canal du Midi and the railway tunnel, and flowing out into the valley.
CAML. French speakers might be interested in an organisation devoted to the study of Medieval arcaeologyin the Languedoc:
Centre d'Archeologie Medievale de Languedoc
22 rue du Plo, La Cité, 11000, CARCASSONNE
Tel: 04 68 71 21 17
For areasonable subsription fee you can receive rigorous and professionally published studies on a range of topics on the region. Recommended.