The reconstructed temple of Nehalennia

To be perfectly honest, it’s not really worth a detour, but if you happen to be in Colijnsplaat or have to cross the Zeelandbrug, you may consider a quick visit to the reconstructed temple of Nehalennia. It is close to the port (satellite photo) and was built in 2005 to keep the memory alive of the spectacular discovery of the site of an ancient temple, a bit to the northwest, about a kilometer off the coast. In 1970, Nehalennia, until then a little-known goddesses, rapidly became one of the best-attested deities of the pantheon of the Low Countries.

The ruin of the submerged temple was never identified, and will be hard to find, because the waters of the Eastern Scheldt have had about seventeen, eightheen centuries to destroy all. Nevertheless, 122 votive altars were brought to the surface and divers were able to recognize the streets of the ancient settlement. We know, therefore, more about the answered prayers of the faithful than about the sanctuary itself.

The reconstruction near the port of Colijnsplaat is, therefore, entirely hypothetical. Well, perhaps there is one clue. Flemish divers have found a rooftile that was sown with an angle of 45º. Objects like these have been found only in the ruins of Gallo-Roman temples, the ones with a portico surrounding the real sanctuary. It is not much evidence, but so far, the reconstruction seems to be more or less accurate.

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