Archaeological excavations carried out by archaeologist Albert Naef at the end of the 19th century reveal hundreds of archaeological objects, including nearly six hundred and eighty coins and related coins. In 1909, a real treasure of the 13th-14th centuries was discovered in the magna turris - the great tower, the keep.
These witnesses of the past are one of the material sources of the castle's history; they reveal the extent of money circulation in Chillon, and more generally on the Via Francigena, the road network that links France to Italy from Roman times to the Middle Ages.
The coins discovered coincide with the history of the House of Savoy in the Pays de Vaud; the first mention of the castle dates to 1150, and the series begins with a penny from Humbert II of Savoy (count from 1094 to 1103). Albert Naef also discovered many coins, minted in principalities or cities such as Asti, Paris, Lyon or Marseille. Their presence underlines the multiple aspect of the circulation of money in Chillon, a real strategic lock straddling the cliffs and the lake.
Tolls, markets and fairs grant significant benefits to the Maison de Savoie. The foundation of the village of Villeneuve - the new town of Chillon - by Count Thomas I in 1214 resulted from this strategy and the need to accommodate the local toll, which had become too high to be managed from the castle. The city quickly became an obligatory passage for the rich Italian merchants who went to the famous Champagne fairs.
In addition to the discovery made in the keep, Albert Naef uncovered sets of coins in several parts of the castle. Most of the time, these reflect the activity of the place in which they are located, as in the case of the five hundred and seven round copper plates that come from the Domus clericorum; the "House of the clerics" is in fact the administrative and accounting centre of the Chillon castle.
The nine Savoyard pieces minted between the end of the 11th and the end of the 15th centuries in workshops as far away as many - Turin, Susa, Chambéry, Annecy, Cornavin, Bourg and Nyon - reveal the powerful geographical and political expansion of the Maison de Savoie in the Middle Ages.
These coins, generously lent by the Musée Cantonal d’Archéologie & d’Histoire of Lausanne, are on display at the Château de Chillon™ from 14 September 2018 to 28 April 2019 as part of the temporary exhibition Water in your mouth – Drinking and eating in the Middle Ages.
Musée Cantonal d’Archéologie & d’Histoire, Lausanne
PM72576, PM/2578, PM/2579, PM/2580, PM/2581, PM/2587, PM/2589