Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 3-1 (November 2011)R.J. van Zoolingen: Rural cult places in the civitas Cananefatium
6 Rural cult places in the civitas Cananefatium


An indigenous Roman settlement was excavated in two stages at Leidschendam-Leeuwenbergh, in 1991-1993 by the former Dutch State Archaeological Service (ROB) (Wiepking 1997), and in 1997-2001 by the Municipal Department of Archaeology of Rijswijk (De Bruin & Koot 2006). The excavations yielded a rural settlement with two nuclei and a field layout in between. The settlement is dated AD 40-250. It bordered a former tidal channel and was situated only 600 m southeast of the Roman town of Forum Hadriani. The documented features include seven farmsteads, nine outbuildings, nine wells, seven palisades, seven cremation burials and four animal burials.

A cult place was excavated at the northwestern edge of the southern nucleus, along the former watercourse (Wiepking 1997, F14a, 40-41 and 84-85). The structure lay in a separate part of the settlement away from other features. The Leeuwenbergh cult place is rather different from the rectangular sites of Lozerlaan or Hoge Veld. It consists of a U-shaped ditch, with the opening on the east side (fig. 5C). The west side is 16 m long, the north and south sides approximately 12 m. A series of pits was dug along the inner end of each of the short sides. The cult function of the structure is not only based on the unusually shaped features and the absence of other buildings in the vicinity, but also on the associated finds. In total thirteen mainly wire fibulae were collected, as well as imported wheel-thrown pottery and large quantities of hand-shaped made local wares. The imported pottery includes South Gallic terra sigillata and some rare types of painted ware. The hand-shaped made pottery comprises the majority, 86% in total. The cult place stands out from the surrounding farmsteads where local pottery comprises 48-77% (Wiepking 1997, 128-129). Furthermore, the material is comparable to the hand-shaped pottery from the Lozerlaan in terms of deposition. According to the excavators several fragmented, but complete hand-shaped pots were found in situ, placed in a row in the ditch (pers.comm. J.K.A. Hagers, Wiepking 1997, 41, note 4). The cult place is dated to the second half of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century.