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MaSS

stepping stones of maritime history

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History

Description

In 1993 heavy wooden piles where found at the riverside of the Meuse, at Cuijk, known as Area 6000. These foundation pilesare interpreted as part of a Roman quay, related to the Roman bridge (found in 1989), and the Late Roman castellum of Ceuclum, researched in several campaigns between 1937 and 1966.

During archaeological research in the center of Cuijk, between 1937 and 1966, traces of Roman presence were found. The nature of the remains are not clear, but there has been Roman occupation from at least 50 AD. The Roman site was probably in use until 100 AD. For the following 200 years on, the Early Roman site was in use as a vicus. It was a regional center, and a discovered Roman temple suggests a religious importance. In the fourth century, under Constantine I (306-337AD), a wooden castellum was built on more or less the same place as the Early Roman site. Under Valentinian I (364-375 AD) the castellum was rebuilt.

Archaeological research on the Roman quay

Since the discovery of the quay in 1993, 35 meters upstream from the Roman bridge, a total of 149 square cut piles have been discovered, with a layer of organic material in between. During a research campaign in 2009 15 piles where, by accident, recovered and were later dated by dendrochronology. The piles are of oak wood and originate from the northern basin of the Meuse, possibly near Gennep, similar to the wood used for the Roman bridge. Of these piles, a 120 piles were found in situ, vertically in the ground, and they have been identified as foundation piles. Of 28 piles, found horizontally, it was unclear whether used as foundation piles or as construction beams. Only one of the piles can be identified as a construction beam, due to the traces of modification on both sides. The recovered piles had a length between 100 and 300 centimeters. None of the piles show signs of pile shoes.

Wooden beams from the Roman quay, Cuijk

Dating

Several beams have been dated dendrochronological. Four beams were sampled during the early research in the 1990s and provided dates of 309, 321, 358 and 373 AD. The piles recovered in 2009 were also dated by dendrochronology and gave two phases of tree felling, being 325-6 AD and 372-3 AD. The earlier dated piles roughly fit into these phases.

The layer of organic material consisted of a 70 centimeter thick peat like material, with numerous finds from Roman times, like Roman pottery, leather, bones, glass, ash, coins, beads and building material. The organic material consisted mainly of wood chippings, sand, plant residue, gravel, charcoal and twigs. Two samples of the peat like material gave a 14C-dating of 130-330 AD and a piece of charcoalfrom the same layer gave the same date after 14C analyses. The Roman pottery has a wide dating from 50 AD until the first quarter of the fourth century.

The Roman authority probably left Ceuclum in the first quarter of the fifth century, probably in 406, after Barbarian attacks from the south.

Description

The Roman quay at Cuijk was a wooden quay, resting on heavy wooden foundation beams. It was located on the riverside of the Meuse in a close distance of the Roman bridge and the Late Roman castellum, at Cuijk.

Reconstruction Roman quay, Cuijk

Status

Status: Archaeological monument

Area 6000 is a site of high archaeological value and is partly a protected archaeological monument (Monument number: 524076). In 2006 the monument was covered for protection, with a layer of geo-textile, a layer of clay and a top-layer of polypropylene netting and galvanized wire netting, secured with stakes and sandbags. A year later a ship heavily damaged the top-layer of the covering. Due to the propelling force of ships the protective cover has been heavily damaged. The stakes are pulled out of the ground, the layer of geo-textile is torn loose and partly missing and the layer of clay is almost entirely gone. The stratigraphy of the site is most likely disturbed by the ship propellers and mixed with the layer of recent clay.

top-layer of polypropylene netting and galvanized wire netting

Assesment & research 2013

 

From the 28th of august 2013 until 7thof September 2013 an assessment research project was undertaken by the Maritime Program of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Plans of the municipality of Cuijk to renovate the modern quay will have a big influence on the remains of the Roman quay. The assessment research needs to determine if the sheet pile walls can be driven into the riverbed without damaging the archaeological remains, or that an archaeological excavation is needed. Several dives showed most of the piles are not covered by the netting anymore and have been splintered on the top or have been moved due to collisions with ships. The site is, in the condition it is in now, not protected anymore and is now vulnerable for outside influences. To investigate the status of the monument, the protective layer has to be removed. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands recommends a small excavation to secure the missing information of the site before the site deteriorates any further.

A splintered pile from the Roman quay, Cuijk

A splintered pile from the Roman quay, Cuijk

References

M.R. Manders en W.F.G.J. Brouwers (red.), 2017. Gebied 6000. Duikonderzoek naar de Romeinse loskade bij Cuijk.

Een Romeinse loskade langs de Maas in Cuijk. Historiek.

East Indiaman

Roman structures