New insights into the early medieval society in Northern-Francia from the beginning of the 5th to the end of the 7th century, based on the research results of the Merovingian cemetery at Broechem (B, province of Antwerp).

Project Details


The transition from the Late Roman period to the Middle Ages in Northern Gaul remains rather obscure. Since very few written sources survived, archaeological research is the main source for the knowledge of Early Medieval society. Until the first half of the 20th century this knowledge remained limited to the material culture from Merovingian cemeteries. Theories of deserted land after the retreat of the Romans and repopulation by Germanic mass migration were rife. During the years 2001-2010 I got the opportunity to excavate an Early Medieval burial ground with 513 graves at Broechem (B, prov. of Antwerp). These excavations created a huge opportunity for further research. For the first time in Flanders modern excavation techniques were applied on a Merovingian cemetery: detailed description of the grave structures and the grave gifts but also bloc lifting of the objects. This approach tells us more about rituals, technical features, costume
traditions etc., but also provides us with information regarding the socio-economic relations and the symbolic traditions. The geographic situation of Broechem in a remote area of Northern Gaul, on a loamy sand plateau enclosed by rivers, and the presence of multi-cultural objects in the grave
goods, shed light on Early Medieval society. My research explores the meaning of this cemetery in this remote region by analyzing the material culture as a reflection of social and ideological life of this community in this transition period.
Effective start/end date1/09/1831/08/19

Flemish discipline codes

  • Archaeology of the Low countries or Belgium


  • Archeology
  • medieval period