Roman bridge discovered in Utrecht

Whilst continuing Utrechts massive building programme, yet another bridge from Roman times has been discovered, this time in the Leidsche Rijn residential area. It may have been built somewhere around the years 100 and 125. The Paaljuk Bridge is more than five meters wide and is part of the new excavation located in Strijkviertel, near the Rijnvliet Sports Park, close to the Oudenrijn junction. Along with the bridge, a roman axe head has also been discovered. We wonder what other finds are lying there waiting to be discovered. Sometimes being an archaeologist must be a wonderfully exciting job and days like this must make up for the hours spent scraping away layer after layer of soil; and finding nothing!

According to archaeologists, they have found that sixteen oak bridge pillars, these abutments have miraculously stood the test of time. It is apparently called a ‘pole jug bridge’, where it would have been carried by a grid of four by four poles. The two abutments that led to the bridge were also partially preserved. Striking is the use of basalt chunks from the vicinity of Bonn to protect the abutments against erosion. The use of materials indicates that the bridge could have been built during one of the major construction campaigns along the Roman border in the year 100 or 125.

The Paaljuk Bridge was part of the main road on the south bank of the Rhine, where from 40 AD onwards. a series of forts guarded the border of the Roman Empire.

For those of you who know their Roman history, Utrecht was on the northern border of the Roman Empire and was called Traiectum. Along the south bank of the Rhine, the Romans had built a main road. The bridge found was over a tributary.

About twenty years ago a similar bridge was found in the vicinity of Utrecht. It was a few kilometers further to the west.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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