The present volume, 27th in the series Cahiers d’archéologie jurassienne, presents the medieval occupations discovered near the village of Chevenez in the Ajoie region (Canton Jura, Switzerland). Bronze and Iron Age remains found in the same area were the subject of a previous volume (CAJ 26). The three sites of Lai Coiratte, Combe Varu and Combe En Vaillard were excavated between 1998 and 2002, prior to the construction of the A16 motorway.

After a short introduction (chap. 1) follows a description of the different methodologies employed in the various approaches contained in this volume (chap. 2). The following chapters 3 to 5 present the archaeological finds and structures site by site. Chapter 6 contains the anthropological study of the human remains discovered at all three sites. A concluding synthesis forms the seventh and last chapter.

This monograph is the first publication describing archaeological remains dating from the Merovingian period to the late Middle Ages found in the region of Chevenez. Although the investigated sites are not well preserved, the different nature of the three occupations became obvious. Between the beginning of the 7th century, period when the small cemetery of Combe Varu was founded, and the early 8th century, two occupation phases succeeded each other at Lai Coiratte and Combe En Vaillard. The activity area of Lai Coiratte is succeeded by a tomb containing three individuals, while at En Vaillard, the construction of a roadway linking Courtedoux/Curtis Udulfi to Chevenez/ Chaviniacus lead to the construction of a dwelling and the establishment of a cemetery. The roadway was apparently abandoned at the end of the early medieval period.

The activity area of Lai Coiratte contains the remains of a bloomery furnace, several smithing hearths, work spaces and pits, and appears to have been entirely dedicated to ironworking. It represents the first solid evidence of early iron smelting in the Ajoie region. The features could be linked to either iron smelting or smithing. Their respective location defines the spatial organisation of the workshop and gives an image of the entire chaîne opératoire of ironworking during the early Middle Ages, completing observations made on the contemporary sites of Boécourt - Les Boulies and Develier - Courtételle in the neighbouring Delémont Valley. The L-shaped building discovered at Combe En Vaillard represents the remains of an isolated farmstead linked by a paved path to the roadway which crosses the dale from east to west. It is however not possible to establish a direct link between this farmstead and the activity area of Lai Coiratte. Together with the triple tomb of Lai Coiratte, the grouped inhumations documented at Combe En Vaillard and Combe Varu form a population of sufficient size for a detailed anthropological analysis. The analysis of discrete traits and the palaeopathological evidence revealed possible family ties within this population and documented its state of health. Abnormal tooth wear observed on several individuals may be the result of a particular craft activity.

A part from the slag produced by the metallurgical activities, the archaeological assemblage is dominated by potsherds and iron objects, glass or soapstone vessel fragments and stone tools being relatively rare. The typological and technological analysis of the pottery confirms and completes the published results obtained at Develier-Courtételle ; the location of the regional pottery workshops remains however unclear. More is known about imported ware and lithic objects, permitting a partial reconstruction of exchange networks. These seem to have differed to some extent from those documented in the Delémont Valley, with a stronger orientation towards Burgundy and Alsace. The presence of glass and stone vessels indicates that the population was relatively well off. Plant and faunal remains document the agriculture and animal husbandry practised by the inhabitants, giving an image of a rural society living mostly in autarky.

The study of three early medieval occupations near Chevenez has thrown some light on the organisation and life style of the rural inhabitants of the Ajoie region, the density and spatial distribution of their settlements and fields, and the contemporary exchange networks. These results, contained in the present volume, complete the already published investigations of the contemporary sites of Boécourt - Les Boulies and Develier-Courtételle in the Delémont Valley. The neighbouring early medieval hamlet of Courtedoux- Creugenat will form the subject of a future volume of this series. Together, all of these archaeological remains will permit a better understanding of this historical period, still mostly known through its cemeteries.

Translation: Robert Fellner