During the last decades, the research on the architecture of the oppida of temperate Europe during the last two centuries BC has been greatly expanded with an increasing amount of new data. It focuses mainly on the study of building techniques involving the use of wood, which is by far the main material in the architecture of these settlements. In this academic framework, the site of Bibracte (Mont Beuvray, Burgundy) can be considered as one of the reference contexts for the period in western Europe.
The analysis of wooden architecture in Bibracte required the consideration of the overall woodworking process, from the sourcing of wood in the forest to the various stages of building implementation. The technical aspects linked to the foundation and elevation of the frameworks, to the choice and shaping of their constituent elements, were apprehended through the analysis of the archaeological traces left by these buildings, as well as through the study of the rare timbers preserved on the site in particular taphonomic conditions.
Cross-checking the abundant documentation available from 75 years of research carried out on Mount Beuvray in the 19th century (1864-1907) and from 1984 to the present day, has made it possible to identify about one hundred and half buildings with sufficiently complete plans. The wooden architecture of Bibracte reflects the image of a mastered skill that was particularly well adapted to the very restrictive morphological characteristics of the terrain of Mount Beuvray. In the sectors with steeper slopes, we find therefore buildings composed of one or more semi-buried rooms which form a habitat organized in terraces. The habitable volume of these buildings is more vertical, with limited floor space, but with massive frameworks. In the less steep areas, the buildings develop more horizontally, with plans consisting of several rooms and often with timber-framed cellars or public buildings of a monumental character. Although they are organized in a variety of ways, many of the structures display a certain uniformity in their dimensions, suggesting the use of consistent building modules and a real system of measurement within a standardized building activity. As with the settlement, the existence of well-defined construction parameters could also be observed for the timber-framed ramparts (murus gallicus) of the oppidum.
The architecture of Bibracte thus shows a very recognizable and mastered local tradition, which reflect a clear economy of wooden construction within the settlement; but to what extent is this type of economy widespread beyond Bibracte, on all the Celtic oppida, remains a question that can be asked.