Archaeologist Jef Vansweevelt told VRT: “We hadn’t expected to find so many skeletons here! After the 19th century other buildings stood here and we thought much more would have disappeared.”
“We’ve already recovered a score of skeletons and I expect to find more. A cemetery adjoined the St Michael’s Monastery, so we knew finds would be made, but we hadn’t expected this amount. With other buildings being constructed here after the 19th century we had expected the underground to be more disturbed. Many more skeletons are still in the ground and they are buried less than a metre deep.”
The excavations are being done right n the city centre with loads of passers-by. Archaeologists are taking precautions.
“We’re excavating a skeleton here, but the skull has already gone. We removed it ahead of the weekend. The dig is close to a cycle path and we don’t want anybody removing items as a souvenir!”
The St Michael’s Monastery was one of the most important abbeys in Belgium. In Antwerp many street names bear witness to its existence. There’s the St Michael’s Quay, but also the nearby Kloosterstraat. People interested in the monastery and the dig are invited to visit the Schelde Quays next weekend during the Archaeological Days.