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Rising seas around the shores of Holland in the late Roman period

28 October 2010

Member Dick Gagel has written several articles on Albert Delahaye and his claim that a large part of what is now the Netherlands was under water from the 3rd century AD onwards for several hundred years – which means some historical events could not have happened where they are supposed to have taken place. This is particularly true of Nijmegen. Charlemagne is said to have built a palace on a prominent hill in Nijmegen but no trace of any object from the Carolingian period has ever found its way into the nearby museum – which is self incriminating when you think there are lots of Roman bits and pieces, too many to display in fact, hundreds of them. Nijmegen seems to have been a border fortress with a market. Vikings are also supposed to have raided Nijmegen in the year 880 and occupied the palace but once again no trace of them is evident. Delahaye says that the palace and the Vikings must be located elsewhere and argued that Noviomagus was not at Nijmegen but at Noya in NW France.

Delahaye used geological evidence for his claim that the Netherlands was largely underwater between the 3rd century and 1050 – a very long period of time. This is the so called third Dunkirk Transgression event which appear to have a connection to similar transgression events in the Fens and other parts of East Anglia. Now, geologists over the last 20 years or so, since Delahaye came out with his ideas, have modified the last Dunkirk transgression  event – but as we know that rising sea levels were a factor in eastern England in the late Roman period it would seem reasonable to think a similar thing was happening on the other side of the North Sea bowl. It may be that the 3rd century AD is a bit too early as the theory upset the great and the good of Nijmegen at the time. In fact, the consensus is that Delahaye is wrong – but it is not clear if he is entirely wrong or just some of what he says is wrong. Search engines bring up quite a few sites but very little useful information – apart from what Delahaye said.  See www.albertdelahaye.nl.php?english for example, which provides a kind of overview. Rising sea levels in the fairly recent past is one of those imponderables that archaeologists in general are not prepared to grasp – open to ridicule I suppose. There is no reason why SIS can't explore the subject. Another interesting point that is raised is that the activities of Willibrord and Boniface and other early missonaries to the Dutch cannot have taken place in the way tradition says but must have been confined to NW France. Delahaye suggests that when people did migrate into the Netherlands after the waters subsided they brougt the tradition with them. Is this tenable?

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