The Early Churches
The first church was built during the Vth century, in the suburbs, outside the city walls. This building followed a simple plan consisting of a rectangular nave and single apse. This first church was surrounded by annexes relatively quickly. The second church built during the VIth century conserved much of the original building, extending it eastward and replacing the earlier apse with a larger square-ended choir. Towards the end of the VIIth century, a third church was built, extended once more eastward. It was designed on a much more ambitious scale and built to an unusual cruciform plan in which each transept arm was prolonged by an apse along the north-south axis. This third church, much more elaborated than the previous ones, might have been built on behalf of Saint Loup, bishop of Angers during the VIIth century. The rebuilding of the church during the Carolingian era followed the same cruciform plan.
Nowadays, nothing remains from these early churches but their foundations which can be seen in the archaeological crypt.
>> More about the archaeological crypt.
Gros plan sur...Two Archaeologists in Saint-Martin's Church
One of the scholars who invested himself a lot for the benefit of this monument is canon Paul-Marie Pinier. Having purchased the east end of the church in 1902-1903, he undertook an excavation in the crossing during which he uncovered the apse of the first church.
Between 1929 and 1936, the American historian George Howard Forsyth undertook some archaeological investigations and studied the architecture of the monument. He then published a monograph study on the church of Saint-Martin which is still valued by contemporary historians.