Lounging in France 19: Romans Play Golf

Oh, the burdens of living in an area that’s been inhabited since the Neolithic. All the good citizens of Saintes, a small city near the Atlantic coast of France, dreamed of was a nice golf course. A suitable site was found just outside the city limits, and the 18 holes laid out. The photograph you see here was taken by me at the third hole.

But, alas. Others were here before them. The Romans, in fact. In their standard effort to ensure a steady water supply for the city, which at that time was named Mediolanum Santonum, a regional capital of the Empire, the Romans built an aqueduct. So, I pivot to the right and this is what we see:

This is a massive stone arch, veiled by scaffolding while it’s being restored by the local authorities. A couple of big arches, and some ancient stone footings of an aqueduct that used to run for miles north of town, were here long before golf was invented. Right in the middle of the golf course is a major historical site. Those Romans, so inconsiderate!

You can hike to these ruins at this moment, but you can’t drive up. Not unreasonably, the golf club is not anxious to have bunches of tourists disrupting the concentration of the golfers teeing up for the drive. As you can see from where I’m standing, the aqueduct slices right across the course, between the third and the fourth holes. It’s enough to give any golfer the yips.

Fortunately at this moment access or the lack of it is not an issue. But once the renovation is finished, some sort of accommodation is going to have to be made between the club and history. It’s a constant headache, living with old stuff!

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Lounging in France 19: Romans Play Golf — 4 Comments

  1. Sorry, I don’t play golf, but aren’t golfcourses supposed to have ‘hazards’?
    Maybe they can figure out a new layout and use the restored ruins as one of those hazards, e.g. you need to hit the ball through the arch to get to the next bit? Or reroute the path around it, if hitting it with golfballs too often would damage the restoration.

  2. I am interested in how we should renovate ancient ruins. There are some ruins that people have decided they should look. We know that the pyramids aren’t shining brightly with their plaster. We know marble statues aren’t painted. But I’d like to see them as they were in ancient times.

    Lots of pyramids and similar monuments have been quarried—including the Coliseum! What would it be like to restore it to its ancient glory?

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