Vi Ernagina

Vi is for vicus (neighbourhood or town)
Detail from the Peutinger map (13th Century)
copied from a map of the Roman Empire at the end of the 4th Century AD

(perhaps this in turn was inspired by a Roman map drawn a number of years before the birth of Christ)


Ernaginum, Ernagina, Ernagena, Ernagino, Ernagini, Ernagin, Arnaginem, Arnagine, Bergine, Berginé, Ερναγινον. What names for a town now long since disappeared!

Ernaginum: the most important crossroads of Roman Gaul. In fact it was here that the Via Domitia (which continued onto Spain) met the Via Agrippa (from Arles and then onto Lyon) and the Via Aurelia (the coast-­road from Rome).

At the foot of Ernaginum flowed the two branches of the River Durance, one from Chateaurenard, via Maillane and Laurade, the other from Orgon via Saint-­Remy. From here the waters continued towards Arles flowing into the ponds of Desuviates which then linked into the Marius canal and the sea, near Fos.

Ernaginum was an important city whose economy depended principally on these three great routes, together with the crossing of both the Rhone and the marshes of the Durance which at this point was assured by local boatmen. The town extended over 2km along the edge of the hill.

Ernaginum served as the advance camp for the Emperor Marius to protect Arles against attacks from the Cimbres in approximately 100 BC. At that time called Bergine it was perhaps the capital of a Gallic tribe belonging to the federation of Salyens: the Nearchi.

This tribe of shepherds and farmers, who lived in the Alpilles and on part of the Crau in the 6th century, was nevertheless trading with ships from the Mediterranean (Punic, Etruscan and Greek).

In 480 Ernaginum was destroyed stone by stone by the Visigoths. Rebuilt, it was again destroyed, this time in the 11th century by the Saracens from Spain.

Ernaginum would have been more important than Glanum and would have included at least five cemeteries.

This map highlights the major importance of the position of Ernaginum with the crossing point of the Via Agrippa, Aurelia and Domitia and the former arm of the Durance, the Duransole.