It was during the construction of a new supermarket that the road connecting Antwerp with an important Roman camp in what is now Oudenburg (‘Old Fort’) outside Ostend. The discovery was made during the obligatory archaeological examination of the site preceding the construction of a new building. It didn’t take archaeologists examining the site before the build long to encounter Roman remains.
Archaeologist Johan Hoorne: “The site is located next to National Road 9 and we had great expectations. It’s such great news that these expectations were met!”
“It’s one of the most important routes in the entire wider area. It was a sand road from Antwerp that ran over the sand and the Oudenburg sand ridge to the Roman camp.”
It’s in Adegem in Maldegem where two important Roman roads intersect. There’s the North-South link from Kerkhove just across the provincial border in West Flanders that runs to Aardenburg (‘Earth Fort’ in Zeeland Flanders (The Netherlands) and there’s the road from Antwerp to Oudenburg.
“Roman roads in sandy areas are less well documented because they were not in stone and didn’t survive, but that doesn’t make them less important.”
What has now been found will soon disappear underneath the new supermarket, but archaeologists are keen to document their find as extensively as possible.
“We’re taking snaps, drawing up a plan of the site, taking samples too. We are digging up the entire site and removing any finds” says Johan Hoorne.
The builders will receive free rein once this process is complete. The road won’t be preserved for posterity; Visitors will only be able to admire the photographs.
“The road continues for quite a stretch” says Johan Hoorne. “It would have been quite a challenge to uncover it entirely. The road even runs underneath our offices! But our discoveries will be of great value in mapping out the Roman economy of its day as well as establishing what the landscape looked like.”