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De visserskaai te Oostende (prov. West-Vlaanderen): archeologie van een in de 17de eeuw zwaar geteisterde stad
Pieters, M.; Schietecatte, L.; Ervynck, A.; Van Neer, W.; Caluwé, D.; de Buyser, F.; Eeckhout, J.; Houbrechts, D.; Muylaert, L. (2003). De visserskaai te Oostende (prov. West-Vlaanderen): archeologie van een in de 17de eeuw zwaar geteisterde stad. Archeol. Vlaan. 7: 231-276
In: Archeologie in Vlaanderen = Archaeology in Flanders. Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium: Brussel. ISSN 0778-2837, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Pieters, M., more
  • Schietecatte, L.
  • Ervynck, A., more
  • Van Neer, W., more
  • Caluwé, D.
  • de Buyser, F.
  • Eeckhout, J.
  • Houbrechts, D.
  • Muylaert, L., more

Abstract
    The Institute for the Archaeological Heritage of the Flemish Community (IAP) has, in close collaboration with the town of Ostend, carried out archaeological excavations during the construction works of the car park below the Visserskaai at Ostend from September 1998 till February 1999. This archaeological work mainly produced information on the eastern ramparts of Ostend and their evolution from the 16th century onwards together with information on the material culture of the inhabitants of Ostend during this same period. The town of Ostend had no defences until late in the 16th century as initial construction work for the defences only started in 1572 when the town came into northern hands. In the beginning of the 17th century Ostend managed to withstand successfully, with its newly built ramparts, for three years an overwhelming Spanish army siege. This was only possible thanks to the fact that the Spaniards never managed to seal of Ostend completely from the sea. As a result, victuals and soldiers arrived continuously at Ostend during the siege. It was only after the arrival of Spinola in the besieging camp, at the end of 1603, that Ostend was gradually forced to surrender. At the bottom of the excavated car park trench, some 4 m below the actual street level, wooden structures of the earthen ramparts were preserved (figs. 4-5). The presence of these con- firms historical data about the use of wood to strengthen the earthen ramparts. The excavations however documented mainly features from 2 bastions, the Peckels bastion and the Spanish bastion (fig. 2-3). Human burials and a gunpowder-magazine (figs. 7, 8, 10, 12) were uncovered in the Peckels bastion and human burials and an open-air rainwater reservoir were detected in the Spanish bastion. The human burials are studied elsewhere in this volume together with other post-medieval burials from Ostend recently discovered outside regular cemeteries. Archaeological material found in connection with the gunpowder-magazine in the Peckelf bastion dates from the 2nd half of the 16th /1st half of the 17th century (figs. 6,9,13-15) and suggests that the construction of this gunpowder-magazine? has to be situated somewhere in the middle of the 17th century, in other words in the period when the town defences of Ostend were adapted to new standards after the above- mentioned siege. A typical object related to the siege is a funnel-shaped gunpowder-flask in a copper-alloy (fig. 6). The inner wall of the gunpowder-magazine was erected on a framework of horizontal wooden beams, which were themselves resting on vertically placed and sharpened beams, mainly in oak (fig. 8). A dendrochronological analysis of the vertically placed beams produced a terminus post quem, which is far too early to be of any help in the discussion on the gunpowder-magazine. The technical differences between the inner and outer wall of the gunpowder-magazine suggest at least 2 phases for this building. The above-mentioned ceramics consist of redwares, Rhenish stone- wares a.o. Raeren, maiolicas, Weser slipwares, olive jars from Seville and some whitewares with green or yellow glaze. The archaeological material from the open- air rainwater reservoir in the Spanish bastion dates from the 2nd half of the 17th/1st half of the 19th century but mainly from the 18th century (figs. 16-32). The collection of ceramics from this context is largely dominated by tablewares. Among these stonewares are nearly missing and replaced by faience, china and industrial white- wares (pearl and cream wares). Maiolica has been nearly completely replaced by faience. Maiolicas remain in fact only important as wall-tiles. The collection contains some olive jars from Seville, a bowl from Dèsvres and a few products from Beauvais. The collection of china mainly consists of cups and small dishes in blue and white china. The china has been brought to Ostend in great quantities in the 18th century, first by the Ostend Company and later by mariners from Ostend in Foreign Service, mainly as ship's ballast. Besides ceramics this context also produced several finds in leather, glass, stone and metal. The leather finds mainly consist of shoes. The glass collection is largely dominated by cylindrical and globular bottles of which one was still intact including its cork (fig. 26: 1). Metal is represented by 22 cast iron cannon balls (fig. 28) and by a standard measure for bottles from an unidentified town inspector of measures and weights of Ostend with GS initials (fig. 27: 8). Small quantities of animal remains were found dispersed over many contexts within the site's stratigraphy. Only three of them are meaningful: a deposit found under the floor of the gunpowder-magazine (table 1: context A), an assemblage excavated in leveling layers within the Peckels bastion (table 1: context B), and material found in the water reservoir in the Spanish bastion (table 1: context C). All connections consisted of larger material; sieved samples did not yield meaningful numbers of smaller animal remains. Context A dates from the second half of the 16th to the first half of the 17th century and consists of consumption refuse: marine molluscs, marine fish bones, bird bone and the remains of cattle, sheep and pig. Context B is contemporaneous to context A and also represents consumption refuse with a similar composition. Remarkable are only a series of vertebrae of a large specimen of ling, a fish that must have been caught in northern waters, and a number of skeletal elements of a gurnard species. Context C has a younger date (second half of the 17th century to the first half of the 19th century) and has a mixed origin in terms of the taphonomy of the animal remains. Not only consumption refuse is present but also parts of the skeletons of at least four dogs and a horse. It is possible that all three contexts represent secondary refuse; in any case their provenance remains unknown. The material certainly has limited value for the interpretation of former consumption patterns. A feature of special interest is the presence of a few cowrie shells. Several aspects of the material culture reflect the maritime character of the town: the presence of several imports such as olive jars from Seville and specific objects as a token in lead (fig. 13: 16) probably used by skippers for the payment of fees and/or tolls. The presence of an important percentage of china and of some cowrie shells is probably related to the activities of the Ostend Company in the l8th century. The pottery discovered from both contexts (2nd half 16th century/ 1 st half 17th century and 2nd half 17th century/ 1st half 19th century) follows the general trends described for post-medieval Flanders.

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