In 1998, in the context of the A29 Amiens to Saint-Quentin motorway construction, a preventive excavation was undertaken at Athies, a village in the département of the Somme, situated between Amiens and Saint-Quentin in the west part of the Vermandois. Several literary sources, among which the Lives of St Radegonde, mention the existence there of a royal villa in the 6th century.

More than 1300 structures have been excavated. It has been possible to discern two main periods (6th-7th and 8th-9th centuries).

The section of the “Chemin de Croix” site examined was established in the early Merovingian Period, at the very beginning of the 6th century. There is a clear connection between the dates of the establishment of the site and those commonly received for the Merovingian palace. Though the internal organization of the “hamlet” is clear, at least in part, no real link could be established between our site and the heart of the village, where tradition locates the royal villa. The various structures found on the site show no original characteristics in comparison with what is known about other sites of the same period. On the other hand, the interest of the site lies in its unusual organization. The main part of the settlement is contained in a roughly oval-shaped “enclosure”, while the other parts are distributed, in the west and south-west, into more regular rectangular plots of land. The inside of the enclosure is itself subdivided into 8 “units” by ditches and fences. Several buildings, some ten ovens, about twenty pits, and the same number of “pit dwellings”, and silos, plus one well, are scattered throughout the excavated area.

During the second period, in the 8th-9th centuries, the spatial organization moves towards a less compartmentalized site. Only 4 spatial units are now discernable. The oval enclosure is no longer the limit of the settlement to the east, but a part of the ditch is still in use as a boundary to the west. To the north and the east, the area seems to be open, but not more densely occupied than before. It appears clearly that there is an internal organization, but less significant than in the previous period, with more open space. The excavated part reveals one or two houses, five out-buildings, about thirty pits, two “pit dwellings”, seventeen silos, eight ovens and four ponds refilled at the end of the occupancy. The organization of this settlement, while conforming to already known patterns, such as those of Goudelancourt-les-Pierrepont or Juvincourt-et-Damary, shows some original aspects. The various archaeological units identified on the site may correspond to two or three farming units. We can assume that Athies is more likely to belong to the polynuclear type than to a centralized type, but we cannot be absolutely sure, as we have no information on the south part of the site.