Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 2-1 (May 2010)W.A. van Es; W.J.H. Verwers: Early Medieval settlements along the Rhine: precursors and contemporaries of Dorestad


From the sixth century onwards, the northernmost branch of the Rhine in the Netherlands regained the transport-geographical importance that it had partially lost during the Migration Period. The high point of this development was the rise of Dorestad at the fork of the Rhine and the Lek in the mid-seventh century. This article examines a number of Early Medieval settlements situated along the Rhine, some of which were the immediate precursors of Dorestad. They are settlements of differing character and ancestry. Some go back to the days when the Rhine formed the frontier of the Roman Empire. Others emerged in Merovingian times, when the Franks and the Frisians came to oppose each other in the Rhine delta. The frontier character of this zone persisted into the eighth century. In these days, all settlements along the Rhine were part of a vast, international exchange network, with Dorestad evolving into one of the principal ports of the Carolingian realm. For this period, pottery is an important source of archaeological evidence.