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Between the Carolingian and Ottonian periods, Velzeke was an important regional power centre and shared its history with the neighbouring Ename. The contemporary visitors can appreciate Velzeke Museum with new interactive ways for presenting the archaeological finds as well as Ottonian parts of the St. Martin Church.

Places to visit

Roman building in the Archaeological Park

The building was long considered as a dwelling, but recent geophysical survey suggests that it was part of a larger compound of unexcavated constructions. The remaining stone foundations once supported a structure in wood and loam covered with ceramic tiles. It dates from the 2nd century AD and replaces an older underlying building. Lots of olive-oil and wine amphorae from South Spain and South France as well as complete terra sigillata table ware were found in and around the building now considered as a store-room or a shop. The area to the south was also excavated revealing a well and refuse pits full of broken pottery. Amongst them there was an inscribed fragment of a Spanish amphora with the name of a certain ‘Vernaclus’ and the date of ‘April 3′. The complex stood in the center of the settlement, just south of one of the (now vanished) streets. A selection of the finds is now exhibited in the nearby museum.

The Paddestraat : site of an ancient Roman road

The Paddestraat, at the south entrance of the museum, is an old picturesque road covered with clinkers and seasonally much appreciated as a cycle-racing track within the Tour of Flanders. It superposes for a large part the ancient Roman road coming from Boulogne before entering the settlement and continuing direction Cologne. Excavations revealed parts of it in a good state (now recovered and invisible) with a multi-leveled substratum supporting a road surface of gravel and loose stone fragments. The road surface was slightly curved allowing the flow of the water to drains at both sides. The Roman vicus of Velzeke was a vital junction in the ancient road system and excavations revealed in its east sector a 2nd century AD official road station. Since Velzeke remained an important administrative center up to Ottonian times (ca. AD 950) the road network must have remained in a fairly good state. The ancient farm Schaliënhof of 1661 facing the Paddestraat is worth while seeing.

The Ottonian Saint Martin’s church

Recent architectural analysis revealed substantial parts of the Ottonian church of ca. 950 incorporated in the late medieval construction. Especially the chancel with the apse and parts of the west side are well preserved. They are easily recognizable by the masonry consisting mainly of building materials proceeding from the Gallo-Roman settlement (spolia) and the now blocked windows and doorways. Especially the apse is impressive with its three arched windows referring with the re-used red fired tiles to the Gallo-Roman architectural tradition. Their jambs still contain (now recovered) Ottonian wall-paintings. Especially the fresco of a saint in the north window is remarkable. The Saint Martin’s church was probably the core of the administrative center of the former county of Biest. Excavations brought to light two large ditches and traces of timber buildings around the church.

Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum, Velzeke (PAM Velzeke) and Archaeological Park

Nearby locations

Zottegem : Archaeological Park of the castle of Egmont

Archaeological Park with remnants of excavated parts of the medieval castle (11th-14th centuries) – free entrance in the day-time.

Post-medieval part of the castle (16th-20th century) is the actual municipal library – access on request: +32 (0)9 364 64 11, bibliotheek@zottegem.be.

Barrier-free access.

Leeuwergem : 18th century castle and gardens

Open on request: +32 (0)9 360 22 16, info@leeuwergem.be, contact form available on the internet.

Barrier-free access; staircases inside the castle.

Cultural walks (nature and monuments) around Zottegem and Velzeke

Medieval churches, ancient farmsteads, watermills, attractive village centres, old pathways and brooks.

Places to visit Nearby locations

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