The Hypogee Martyrium lies a short distance from La Pierre-Levée in the Dunes suburb of Poitiers. The area would appear to have been set aside by the Celtic Pictone tribe for their revered ancestors, if not their deceased.
The ancient heart of this half-buried tomb was only unearthed in 1878 by Father C. La Croix. Notarial and oral tradition had preserved the memory of this field "Chiron martyr" or a "path of martyrs". In exploring the necropolis, Father C. La Croix. discovered it contained exceptional carvings and inscriptions from the very early Christian period. It would appear that the site had been a place of worship since the Neolithic period and then used by the first Christians before Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire. The tomb contained the martyred remains of some of these persecuted Christians, together with their earlier pagan companions.
Although we found the Hypogee Martyrium, there was an official notice informing us that the site had been closed to the public by municipal decree on October 5, 1998. It would appear that the museum service of Poitiers had decided the site was in need of restoration and had closed it until this could be carried out. I had to make do with taking a few pictures from outside the gates.
Further information and pictures of the interior can be found on the official museum service web site, along with a tourist guide for the site from 1911.