November/December 2758 auc

Fr. Apulo Caesare C. Popillio Laena consulibus

Certamen Petronium

Five Roman Boats

Roman Town Houses

Mines and Quarries

Ancient Roman Travel Series

Rhine River Patrol

Recipe, Columella's Preserved Turnip

Philosophy Efforts I

Public Virtues: Nobilitas

"Aquila" Editorship




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Five Roman Boats

You will recall from our first mention of this discovery, that the find was originally exposed by the construction of a new canal through the area. Much of the information regarding the find was supplied reluctantly by amateurs and treasure hunters since no rescue operations or even a small archaeological investigation was allowed by the canal works construction authority.

There was a declaration that an almost complete "canoe" was found in addition to the five boats we have been speaking about, which was completely full of pottery, possibly the reason that it sank. There was also a significant indication of a village which could be found on both sides of the previously described Roman Road. The village apparently
filled the land between the Hane River and the tributary as well as along the Roman Road However, again, no excavation could be carried out before the area was completely covered with several metres of earth from the new canal. The best estimate of the village age was that it was in use perhaps between the early decades of the 1st century to or throughout the second half of the 3rd century A.D.

A full interim report of the find is by De Boe and Hubert (1977).

It seems that four of the boats were abandoned at about the same time while the fifth was abandoned some time later. An estimate is that the first four boats were were left on either side of the Hane River channel during the second half of the 1st century, or in the early part of the 2nd century A.D.


These four boats were covered over with silt, fairly rapidly. The silt deposit over these four craft was found to be positioned against the banks of the channel and also underneath a landing stage which was constructed at a later period. The fifth craft appears to have been left in the 2nd half of the 2nd Century or early in the 3rd century. The vessel lies very close by the center of the channel on the bottom. The above dates are only rough and await a more determined confirmation which may be reached by the action of a dendrochronological dating and by radiocarbon dating as well.

One of the vessels was too badly deteriorated to be able to define any identification of it's shape or type. All that remained was a mere two planks and two rib fragments. However these fragments show evidence of repeated repairs with small iron plates which were fastened over cracks with crude nails. The four other craft appear to be suitable only for use on inland waters. They are without keels which flies in the face of a significant amount of evidence in regard to Mediterranean ship building practices. (Marsden 1976; Ellmers 1969). This is an interesting departure also from the Scandinavian shipbuilding skills as well, and points to a definite Celtic style.

(Possibly to be continued)


  • Boe, G.De, and Hubert, F., 1977 "Une installation portuaire d'epoque romaine a Pommeroeul," --Archaelogia Belgica--
  • Marsden, P., 1976 "A Boat of the Roman Periodfound at Bruges, Belgium, in 1899 and related types, Int J Naut Archaeol Underwater Explor, 5, 23-55.


© NovaRoma 2005
editing by
Marcus Minucius-Tiberius Audens
designed by
Marcus Philippus Conservatus and Franciscus Apulus Caesar

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