The Abbey of Saint-Savin-en-Lavedan was a Benedictine abbey in the commune of Saint-Savin and one of the most important religious centres in the County of Bigorre. The abbey dates at least from the 10th century, and it was built by order of Charlemagne on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman fortress. In 841, the abbey was looted and burnt by the Normans, and previously by the Saracens.
In 945, Count Raymond I of Bigorre gave the abbey a generous endowment consisting of a territory known as the Pascal de Saint-Savin, which was made of the eight villages. The church of Saint-Jean-de-Saint-Savin became their communal church.
In 1080 the abbey was united to the Abbey of St. Victor, Marseille. In 1130 Bernard d'Arcizas and Centule II, Count of Bigorre, confronted the abbot and the inhabitants of the Val d'Azun over a burial. Queen Marguerite of Navarre (1492–1549) took refuge in the abbey from a flood. From the thirteenth century, the abbey still controlled the territory of seven villages.
From the 16th century the abbey suffered due to the destruction associated with the French Wars of Religion and relaxed its discipline, although there were attempts to restore it in the 17th century by the monks of the Congregation of St. Maur.
Only three monks remained living in the abbey in 1790. In the following year, the church and the monastic buildings were converted for the use of the parish. Part of the abbey was sold for a stone quarry and the chapter house became a stable. In 1854, a strong earthquake caused further destructions. Prosper Mérimée took charge of its restoration in 1855.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.