a) Bourbonnes-les-Bains (Haute-Marne)

Eight inscriptions dedicated to the divine couple Damona and Borvo and one inscription to Damona were discovered at Bourbonnes-les-Bains (Haute-Marne), a famous spa town in the valley of the River Borne, the healing spring of which gushes forth at 66° and is recommended for rheumatology and respiratory problems.2010 Bourbonnes-les-Bains, which was named Borbona in 846, was undeniably named after the god Borvo.2011Excavations carried out from the beginning of the 18th c. to the end of the 19th c. and in 1977-1978 revealed the ruins of a huge complex of baths and swimming-pools erected at the site of the spring; a huge hypostyle* room of rectangular shape, divided in three parts by two rows of five columns each, which was interpreted as a temple by M.-F. Rigaud; and a cesspool called the ‘Roman Well’, where some of the inscriptions to Damona and Borvo were discovered, as well as votive offerings, such as rings, fibulas*, two wooden heads, thousands of nuts, acorns and fruit stones, along with 4,700 coins in bronze, silver and gold, forty-six of which were Gaulish silver coins.2012This evidences that the healing spring was already known and used at the end of the 1st c. BC. Clearly, Borvo and Damona were the protectors and embodiment of the waters of Bourbonnes-les-Bains, which brought relief to sick pilgrims. The story which tells that, in 612 AD, Thierry II, King of Burgundy, built a fortification on the site of a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to the divine couple, is apparently a complete fabrication from the pen of Docteur Chevallier in 1772.2013 It is true that Aimoin, a monk from Sully-sur-Loire (Loiret), writing in the second part of the 10th c., did tell of this wall called ‘Vernona Castrum’, which Thierry II erected to protect his realm against his brother Theodebert II, but at no point did he indicate that this fortification was erected on top of a temple dedicated to Borvo and Damona. The existence of a temple at the location of the ancient medieval castle rests therefore on weak presumptions.


Grenier, 1984, pp. 294-295 ; CAG, 52.1, La Haute-Marne, 1997, p. 125-126.


Nègre, 1990, p. 107.


CAG, 52.1, La Haute-Marne, 1997, pp. 127-132, 135-136 ; Grenier, t. 4, fasc. 2, pp. 445-449 ; Troisgros, 1975, pp. 31-33 ; Lacroix, 2007, p. 146. According to Rigaud, the temple occupied the whole central part of the thermal establishment, and gave access to the baths. Pilgrims entered the temple by a door situated at the south-east corner of it and opening onto a vestibule, the entrance of which seemed to have been the main entrance to the temple-thermal baths grouping. Therefore, the pilgrims had to go through the temple to reach the baths.


Troisgros, 1975, p. 31. It is Docteur Chevallier who apparently added this information when mentioning the inscription of Caius Romanus, which was found, according to him, by Thierry II himself in 612 when building his fortification. Actually, nobody knows where this inscription was exactly discovered.