The Collegiate Church of Saint-Pierre-la-Cour is an ancient collegiate church located in the city of Le Mans. Situated in the southwest of the old town, the collegiate church is now used for various cultural events.
The first church was initially built to prevent the Norman invasions, which began as early as 865, from endangering the relics of Saint Scholastica. This is why the Saint-Pierre chapel, located outside the fortifications, was not sufficient to protect the relics. A new Saint-Pierre church was therefore created in the 10th century by Count Hugh. It was situated between the Saint-Martin gate and the comital palace. When the city fell into the hands of William the Conqueror, he decided to modify access to the gate, primarily for security purposes. Users had to go around along the wall while their passages were controlled. A tower was also reportedly erected to provide additional protection to this part of the old town. The nave of the building was supposed to be parallel to that of the cathedral, i.e., on a southeast axis.
The church was modified in 1093 by Hélie de la Flèche, who raised it and positioned its walls on the very fortifications. At that time, the church consisted of a flat chevet and four side windows. However, in 1134, a massive fire destroyed the construction. It was rebuilt in 1175 by Henry II Plantagenet, who added a bay and a tower to the northwest. The choir was elongated, with a large arch spanning the Saint-Martin gate. Nevertheless, the church remained quite modest compared to the cathedral. The canons then proposed extending and raising the choir beyond the city wall. This project was realized with the support of Charles III of Anjou. The foundation stone was laid in 1267. The choir rests upon a lower church that provides a passage to the Saint-Martin gate. However, the construction took longer than anticipated, and additional donations were requested in 1329. The choir was finally consecrated in 1378. During the Hundred Years' War, the building was fortified on three levels.
In 1485, the Romanesque nave was connected underground to Notre-Dame by a straight staircase. Five chapels were built in arches around the choir. It was in the 16th century that a high pavilion roof crowned the tower. In the 17th century, numerous cracks threatened the chevet of the collegiate church. The openings were modified during its restoration in 1682. The appearance remained unchanged until 1834. Engineer Pierre-Félix Delarue was then tasked with transforming the building into a school. He raised the nave and lowered the choir. The entire structure was divided into three levels again, but the chapels and arcades were destroyed. Many windows were pierced in the walls.References:
La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic ritual site which was in use around 3500 BC. Hougue is a Jèrriais/Norman language word meaning a \'mound\' and comes from the Old Norse word haugr. The site consists of 18.6m long passage chamber covered by a 12.2m high mound. The site was first excavated in 1925 by the Société Jersiaise. Fragments of twenty vase supports were found along with the scattered remains of at least eight individuals. Gravegoods, mostly pottery, were also present. At some time in the past, the site had evidently been entered and ransacked.
In Western Europe, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves and the most impressive and best preserved monument of Armorican Passage Grave group. Although they are termed \'passage graves\', they were ceremonial sites, whose function was more similar to churches or cathedrals, where burials were incidental.