Housed in a former mill near the Serre River, the Museum of Barbarian Times (Musée des Temps Barbares) opened to the public in 1991.
Its specialisation in the Early Middle Ages, and more specifically the Merovingian period, makes it the only place of its kind in northern France.
The idea for the Museum of Barbarian Times was born as a result of seven excavation campaigns carried out in Goudelancourt-lès-Pierrepont (some 5 mi from Marles) between 1981 and 1987.
These digs, which revealed 458 graves divided between two cemeteries, also resulted in the unearthing of a complete Merovingian necropolis dating back to the 6th and 7th Centuries, and interest in the site increased further still when the Merovingian dwellings attached to the necropolis were discovered.
A new excavation campaign, carried out alongside that of the housing remains, ran from 1988 to 1992 and unearthed a series of structures corresponding to a complete Merovingian farm from the 6th and 7th Centuries, including a dwelling with a hearth, a well, four working buildings (a cowshed, a barn and a workshop), 14 excavated huts and a series of kilns and hearths.
Spurred on by specialists in the field (who were in fact the only ones able to access these discoveries), it was decided that a museum chronicling the progress of the research should be opened in parallel to the excavation work. Hence, in June 1991, the Musée des Temps Barbares was opened in a former mill.
When you begin your visit to the museum, an audiovisual presentation of the history and progress of the digs offers a good overview of the collections housed here, which include superb golden and bird-shaped fibulas (mounted on a bronze plate and decorated with filigrees and garnet-type precious stones), weapons, tools, jewellery and other finery, pottery, keys, chisels and human and animal bones.
Explanation cards and reconstructions playfully complement the artifacts on display.
The archaeological park complements this first part of the tour perfectly as it introduces the reconstructions of various sites unearthed during the Goudelancourt-lès-Pierrepont excavations, giving visitors the opportunity to visit a Merovingian farm, a Frankish village and a Merovingian necropolis, preserved as they were in the 6th and 7th Centuries.
The archaeological garden is also an opportunity to study the various plants which were used as food, for medical purposes, and for making clothing in the Merovingian era.
Musée des Temps Barbares (Museum of Barbarian Times).
Moulin de Marle - F. 02250 Marle.
Tel.: +33 (0)3 23 24 01 33.
Every day except on Tuesdays from 1st March to 31st October, from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Closed on 1st May and 14th July.
Youths (12-18 years): 3EUR.
Children (6-12 years): 2EUR.
Free for under 6s.