The Flemish government has decided to temporarily protect the remains of a Carolingian fortress in Lanaken by granting them the status of an archaeological site. This fortress, designed in a Roman style, controlled one of the access routes to the Meuse River and the city of Maastricht in the early Middle Ages. Following a public inquiry, the regional government will decide whether the site should be permanently protected.
The remnants of the Carolingian stronghold were discovered in 2017 during a large-scale archaeological study conducted in Lanaken in preparation for a major sediment extraction covering an area of 30 hectares, near the Dutch border. At that time, only the edge of the fortress had been unearthed, and a significant portion of the site remains unexplored. It is likely that the fort is still buried underground.
The remains represent a fortress that controlled access to the Meuse River and the city of Maastricht in the early Middle Ages, with its construction influenced by an earlier Roman style. Furthermore, the site is the first military encampment from this period discovered in Flanders, with no similar site yet found in the Netherlands.
The fortress possibly dates back to the reign of the Frankish leader Charles Martel (born in 688 in Andenne, present-day Belgium, and died in 741 in Quierzy). Its location along an ancient Roman road leading to Maastricht may be linked to the importance and development of Lanaken during that time.
The fortress remains have been exceptionally well-preserved and prove to be unique for Flanders. Through their temporary protection, the Flemish government aims to prevent the destruction of these remnants in favor of any potential alternative projects. Metal detectors cannot be used to analyze the soil either. Following a public inquiry, Minister Diependaele will decide whether the fortress site should be permanently protected as an archaeological site or not.