Mont Saint-Eloi Abbey Ruins

Mont-Saint-Éloi, France

On a hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey. According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius, and by the Middle Ages it had become a powerful religious centre; however the turbulent times of the Revolution saw its walls pillaged for their stone. All that survived were the twin towers of white limestone and the porch on the west wall.

From the beginning of the First World War the towers were used by French troops to observe German positions on Lorette Spur and Vimy Ridge. The suspicions of the French soldiers were aroused when Germans fired upon their every movement until it was realized that what was giving them away was not a spy but the birds nesting on the towers which took flight when troops disturbed them. In 1915 heavy shelling truncated the towers, reducing their height from fifty-three to forty-four metres.

In early 1916 the British Army relieved French troops in the sector. The latter had established an extension to the local cemetery in Ecoivres, at the foot of the hill, to bury 786 of their soldiers who died there, mostly in the fighting of 1915. A military tramway used to carry supplies to the troops at the front also served as an ambulance to bring back the dead and wounded. This transport system conferred on Ecoivres Military Cemetery an unusual feature in that, from the French extension to the Cross of Sacrifice, the graves of the mostly British and Canadian soldiers are in chronological order relating to the date of death: the graves of the men of the 46th North Midland Division who relieved the French in March 1916 are followed by those of the 25th Division who fell in the German attack at the foot of Vimy Ridge in May 1916; next come the men of the 47th London Division who died between July and October 1916 and finally the graves of the Canadians who lost their lives in the successful assault on Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

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Details

Founded: 600-700 AD
Category: Ruins in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Haruna (9 months ago)
Spotted this landmark from the main road. It’s just stunning.
Emad Batista (10 months ago)
Wonderful
Theodoros Stefou (3 years ago)
Every night at 8, a memoire ceremony takes place.
Theodoros Stefou (3 years ago)
Every night at 8, a memoire ceremony takes place.
Andy Gregory (3 years ago)
Incredible landmark in the Great War
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