For a long time it was believed that the site on which Antwerp was developed, was created by Norman invasions. Nowadays we not only wonder if those Normans were as bloodthirsty as history books tell us, we also wonder in how far medieval documents can be trusted.
In a city like Antwerp, historical artifacts are discovered wherever one starts digging. In the past this ‘garbage’ was either thrown away as quick as possible, or sold to antique dealers or local amateurs-collectors. Luckily this has changed: today everything is meticulously researched by a team of cityarcheologists.
The findings of the excavations in and around the castle zone (beneath the Steen and surroundings) have been summarized by Tim Bellens, one of the team of archeologists, in a very readable publication. “Antwerpen. Een archeologische kijk op het ontstaan van de stad”, published by Pandora Publishers.
One of the most important conclusion of this research is that it is very likely that the site from which the city developed, has once been a permanent Roman fortification. Which means that the history of the settlement Antwerp dates back, much further than the famous 836 when the Normans paid us a visit.