Archeologists discover ancient Roman temple in the Netherlands
This week, a group of volunteers from the Dutch Archeology Association (AWN) made an exciting announcement: they’d discovered a relatively well-preserved ancient Roman temple in the village of Herwen-Hemeling, near the German border.
2.000-year-old Roman temple found in Dutch village
Volunteers first came across parts of the temple in late 2021, and initially believed it to be the site of an ancient Roman road. With additional funding, the archaeological research agency (RAAP) was able to carry out a large-scale excavation, eventually uncovering what has now been identified as an almost 2.000-year-old Roman temple complex.
The dig uncovered two Roman-era temples: a larger Gallo-Roman temple with a tiled roof and colourfully painted walls, and a second smaller temple located nearby. One of the biggest finds was a large stone staircase leading downwards, which was located near the well, and those involved in the excavation have theorised this indicated that the well may have been used for ritualistic cleansing.
Archaeologists also found several (fire) pits, a number of statues and traditional altars, known as votive stones, dedicated to Hercules, Jupiter and Mercury, and several fibulae (clothes pins) from the first century, as well as roof tiles and pieces of various armour and weapons. Experts therefore believe the temple was mostly used by soldiers.
Roman artefacts and archaeological digs in the Netherlands
Located right on the northern border of the Roman Empire, and only a stone's throw away from the Lower Germanic Limes - which were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This marks the first time that temples have been discovered so near to the northern border, and the association has described the find as “unique” and “exceptional.”
This isn’t the first time that Roman shrines have been discovered in the Netherlands, with ruins already having been uncovered in Nijmegen and Elst. However, experts say this recent excavation is notable as none of the other finds were as complete or well preserved as the one in Herwen-Hemeling.
Some of the findings are currently being displayed at the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen.