A tour through 9000 years of history under Place Saint Lambert
In October 1898, when a sewer was being put in, artifacts were found dating from the Gallo-Roman period and the Middle Ages. But excavations on the site of the Place Saint Lambert did not get started until 17 September 1907 on the occasion of the installation of a gas line. This first excavation campaign was not a specific programme – it grasped an opportunity because it was done on the trenches opened by the workers. The town entrusted the excavations to the Liege Archaeological Institute.
Paul Lohest (1852-1910), a civil engineer and member of the Liege City Council and Public Works Committee, was fascinated by archaeology. He was the one who began the research projects. In addition to the vestiges of the cathedral, the remains of a Gallo-Roman villa were uncovered and traces of prehistoric occupancy were found (bases of Neolithic huts).
The vestiges of a hypocaust system and hearth were discovered in the western transept of the cathedral. After this first phase of excavations, the hypocaust was adapted for visits as from 1910. A concrete slab was installed on a central concrete pillar and supported by the foundations of the cathedral. A trap door and staircase were put in to reach a brick floor. All around was History. This was not a museum that encloses the past in a display case – it was pure emotion, an encounter and contact with the generations that built the town.