Posted by: mdmusingsie | January 12, 2020

Dem bones, Dem bones

It was while I was looking for interesting thing to do in the Grenoble area that I came across the St. Laurent Archaeological Museum.

Not only did it look interesting but was one of a small number of museums in the area that offer guides in other languages than French.  My friend had never been there before, so it was a new adventure for her as well.

The museum is located at the bottom of the Bastille, in an old church (11th century) which was built on top of an older church (9th century) which was built on top of 4th century graves and a 6th century crypt.

If you have a fear of heights, or open grave sites, this probably isn’t the place for you.  The entrance to the museum is over a series of metal grates and glass flooring to expose the layers beneath.  Even many of the stair cases are comprised of metal grates to allow the maximum viewing of the site.

As you enter, you look across to the altar area and see the paintings on the walls and the stained glass. Just in front of and below the altar is a semi-circular room with a dome, which houses the 6th century crypt.


St. Laurent Archaeology Museum


St. Laurent Archaeology Museum


St. Laurent Archaeology Museum – Crypt under altar

Stairs lead you down and around, and the audio-guide explains different aspects of the site, including the transition work of one church to another where walls and doors were added, changed, or bricked up.  See the decorated archway above the current doorway in the photo below.  You can also see changes in the wall construction in this area.


Lower floor doorway


Old doorway painted archway and building material changes

Over 1500 graves have been discovered under the church and the attached cloister.  The audio guide mentioned that at one point, around the time they built the wall around the town, many graves were moved from outside the wall into the church.  The fact that the monks purposely built their cloister on top of a burial ground is interesting in itself.  There was some not very friendly energy down in the tombs, so it’s not a place I would want to be parading around on a daily basis.


St. Laurent Archaeology museum graves

Although the tombs have been explored and analyzed by the archaeologists, the bones of many of the occupants remain exposed for view.  As my friend mentioned, it would make a great Halloween venue!

The crypt itself was quite impressive, given that it was from the 6th century and most of the stone carvings on the pillars are still very much intact.  Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.


Crypt at St. Laurent Archaeology Museum


Carvings in crypt


Carvings in 6th century crypt



  1. Wow!

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