Something always gets unearthed when you dig in Lier


Whether it's a wooden road or a medieval burial ground, the people of Lier have a running joke that anyone digging a spade into their soil will unearth something interesting.

As early as the 15th century, there was a road from the Leuvensepoort to the Grote Markt in Lier, in the province of Antwerp. It can be seen in 16th-century paintings and maps. When the Berlarij, as the street is called, recently had to be opened for drainage works, the wooden foundations of what turned out to be a medieval connecting road were excavated. The wood disintegrates if picked up, but otherwise it is remarkably intact, perhaps because it was sandwiched between a cork-dry clay layer, as it were. Roman roads, although older than medieval ones, are unearthed more often. Indeed, the Romans used stone, which of course lasts longer than the more porous building materials of the medieval age.

The first remediation works on the sewer system in the Berlarij date back to 1930. The works seem to have been carried out next to and not under the road surface. The foundation now needs to make way for the new sewer system. In itself, it is not a valuable archaeological find, but the city has decided to carefully inventorise, measure and photograph everything for later generations.

Incidentally, around 80 medieval skeletons were discovered just down the road about 2 years ago. Lier has a rich history after all, and the mayor is now used to getting calls from archaeologists when they're excavating.