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Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf (Municipality, Seine-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 15 February 2021

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Presentation of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf

The municipality of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf (10,156 inhabitants in 2018; 368 ha) is located just west of Elbeuf.

Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf is located on the site of the Gallo-Roman town of Uggade, shown on Peutinger Table, a road map dating from year 300.
Uggade was located on the road connecting Rouen to Paris. Archaelogists have unearthed burials, traces of buildings (thermal baths, fanum ...), as well as many artefacts collected in the graves orelsewhere: statuettes, Gallic and Roman coins, jewelry, various objects of daily life and some weapons.
Uggade was first localized in the 19th century by priest Jean Benoît Désiré Cochet (1812-1875), one of the founders of modern French archeology. Cochet's intuition was confirmed in 2010 when the necropolis of the town was excavated. More than 500 tombs dated to the 1st century were identified in the eastern part of the site, including an area dedicated to incineration and remains of a building, most probably a fanum. In the western zone of the necropolis, 485 tombs were identified, dated to the 3rd century, when individual burial superseded incineration. Most coffinx were made of nailed wood, but three lead coffins and another two stone sarcophagi were also found.
[INRAP, 7 May 2012]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 21 June 2021

Flag of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf

The flag of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf (photo, photo, photo) is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Per pale, 1. Gules a lance inverted and a double-balded axe crossed in saltire superimposed to a Gaulish shield bendwise topped with a winged Gaulish helmet bendwise, a sickle reversed and a mistletoe sprig crossed in saltire, and a dolmen charged with the letters ESUS sable in pale all or, 2. Azure a round shield superimposed by a sword palewise a fasces bendwise an aquila bendwise sinister and a trumpet fesswise, a she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus standing on a pedestal charged with the letters ROMA sable all or". On the flag, the shield is surmounted by a golden mural crown and surrounded by laurel and oak branches; beneath the shield a scroll with the name of the municipality. The name of the municipality is written in black Arial letters above the shield.

The arms do not appear to feature specific artifacts excavated in Caudebec. Rather, they feature stereotypical emblems of Gaul (dexter quarter) and Rome (sinister quarter).
The "traditional" winged helmet is a wrong interpretation of Celtic helmets excavated in the 19th century. Used as the emblem of the very popular "Gauloises" cigarettes, designed in 1947 by Marcel Jacno (1904-1989), the winged helmet gained even more popularity in the design used by Albert Uderzo (1927-2020) for Astérix ans some of his merry Gaulish fellows.
The "traditional" golden sickle used by the druids to collect mistletoe is another invention, credited to the neo-druidic movement and probably based on a rite described by Pliny the Elder (Natural History XVI, 249-251), and, once again, popularized by druid Panoramix in Astérix series. Pliny reports that druids used to collect mistletoe from oaks, which are indeed extremely rare hosts of the parasitic plant.
Megaliths, such as dolmens and menhirs, were erected not later then 2200 BC by unknown "megaliths' peoples", while the Celtic civilization emerged around 500 BC. Obélix as a menhir cutter, trader, bearer and thrower is yet another anachronism that adds salt to Astérix series.
In contrast, Esus is a genuine Gaulish element; the god is mentioned in Lucan's Pharsalia, and, of course, often invoked by Goscinny and Uderzo's implacable Gauls.
The Roman elements on the arms of Caudebec are much more compliant with historical and archeological sources. The representation of the town's mythical founders is based on the Capitoline Wolf bronze sculpture.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 21 June 2021