The remains of the Lower Germanic Limes, the former northern border of the Roman Empire, are added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Netherlands and Germany had jointly submitted the two-thousand-year-old border to the UN culture organisation.
Yesterday UNESCO decided to add all the Colonies of Benevolence to the World Heritage List. The existing reference to the Defense Line of Amsterdam was also significantly expanded with the New Dutch Waterline.
Other parts of the Limes, in Germany and the United Kingdom, are already on the World Heritage List. The decision on the possible listing of remnants in Austria, Hungary and Slovenia will be taken at a later date.
Traces made visible
From 19 BC the development of the Lower Germanic Limes started, which mainly had the task of protecting the Roman Empire against the northern Germanic tribes.
The Roman northern border largely follows the course of the Rhine delta, from Cologne via Arnhem and Utrecht, before reaching the sea at Katwijk. About twenty fortresses were built in the Netherlands, which were called castella. Numerous watchtowers were built between them.
Along the former northern border of the Roman Empire, many ancient traces have been made visible through excavations or markings in the landscape. According to Unesco, these fortresses, legion bases and watchtowers show how innovative the Roman military were and how the capricious river landscape was handled.
Kathleen Ferrier, chair of the Dutch Unesco Commission, is pleased with the recognition of the Roman history of parts of the Netherlands. “The fact that the country was part of a much larger whole for so long, and so long ago is very important for our view of history and our place in the world.”
The World Heritage Netherlands Foundation also finds the recognition “more than justified”. “A lot of archaeological treasures from that time have been found along this border. For example, nowhere have so many well-preserved ships been excavated as in the Netherlands.”