An archaeological plan is a two-dimensional abstraction of a three-dimensional
reality encountered on site. It may be a simple, unmeasured sketch, or a measured
drawing resulting from an instrument survey supported by hand measurements
taken with steel tapes.
Plans of monastic sites, like Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, come in a variety types and scales, and serve a range of purposes. For example, stone-for-stone plans at Saint-Jean are usually drawn at 1:10 scale, or occasionally at 1:20; overall site plans are drafted at 1:200 scale, reduced and inked for publication at 1:500.
Stone-for-stone plans are simultaneously a record of the condition of a wall or a building at a particular stage of research, and part of the process of analysis by which that wall or building is interpreted. As such, stone-for-stone plans are quite different from overall site plans. Drawn at a smaller scale (and usually published at a size much reduced from that), overall site plans synthesize and generalize information recorded on stone for stone plans. They are, as a consequence, more purely interpretive in function.
It should be clear from the foregoing that what is represented on plans cannot be a permanent state, or an ultimate truth. Rather, plans present a record (more or less precise) of a state of any particular site as seen through the mind of the recorder(s). Walls may weather, may be excavated to an earlier level of construction, or may be restored. The interpretive aspects of plans, the result of choices made by the recorders, vary according to the needs and concerns of a given research agenda.
Put simply, while every effort may and should be made to record precisely and systematically, archaeologists produce a stone for stone plan, or a site plan, not the stone-for-stone plan or the site plan. Sites can be and sometimes are reopened. New plans are made of previously recorded features or structures, and while always relatable to well-done older plans, the new ones are always different.
What follows are a selection of site plans of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes. One
was drawn by the French army early in the nineteenth century. The rest were
produced betweem 1982 and 1996 by MonArch. These site plans are based instrument
survey of the site and on stone for stone plans of excavated buildings and
standing structures. Taken cumulatively, the MonArch plans represent our phased
excavation and recording of the site, as well as our understanding of its
architectural and spatial relationships. Our goal for this part of the web
site is to make all plans of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes --including both stone-for-stone
and site plans-- available to both students and scholars of medieval monasticism.