This week, a group of volunteers from the Dutch Archaeological Association (AWN) made an exciting announcement: they had discovered a relatively well-preserved ancient Roman temple in the village of Herwen-Hemeling, near the German border.
2,000-year-old Roman temple discovered in Dutch village
Volunteers first discovered 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 a nearly 2,000-year-old Roman temple complex.
Excavations unearthed two Roman-era temples: a larger Gallo-Roman temple with a tiled roof and brightly painted walls, and a second, smaller temple located nearby. One of the biggest finds was a large stone staircase leading down, which was located near the well, and those involved in the excavations speculated that this indicated that the well may have been used for a cleansing. ritual.
Archaeologists also found several (fire) pits, a number of traditional statues and altars, known as votive stones, dedicated to Hercules, Jupiter and Mercury, and several brooches (clothespins) from the first century, as well as tiles and pieces of various armor and weapons. Experts therefore believe that the temple was mainly used by soldiers.
Roman artefacts and archaeological excavations in the Netherlands
Located just on the northern border of the Roman Empire, and only a stone’s throw from the Lower Germanic Limes – which has recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first time that temples have been discovered so close to the northern border, and the association described the discovery as “unique” and “exceptional”.
This is not the first time that Roman shrines have been discovered in the Netherlands, with ruins having already been discovered in Nijmegen and Elst. However, experts say this recent excavation is notable because none of the other finds were as complete or well-preserved as Herwen-Hemeling’s.
Some of the finds are currently on display at the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen.