Urban waterfront geoarchaeology in the Netherlands and the UK: a comparison

The objectives of the project were:
1. To test the applicability of models of urban (waterfront) site formation and post-depositional modification developed in the UK in a wider north-west European context. If the models are applicable, to use them to interpret urban waterfront sequences in Utrecht, if not to produce new models for the town and other Dutch cities.
2. To establish relationships with Dutch colleagues which will enable both parties to develop their research in urban archaeology/geoarchaeology in a more informed manner.
Both objectives were achieved during a 4 month Research Exchange allowing Dr Wilkinson to examine archives of waterfront excavations held at the Archeologische en Bouwhistorische Centrum, Gemeente Utrecht, the Netherlands. Data from the archives were entered into a GIS database and used to produce an account of the development of waterfronts in Utrecht. Section drawings and photographs were used to assessed stratigraphy onlapping against revetments. Other than work undertaken of waterfront sequences in London, the Utrecht study represents the first detailed geoarchaeological examination of waterfront stratigraphy.


Principal investigator
Dr Keith Wilkinson
Principal project staff
Dr Keith Nicholas Wilkinson
Start date
Thursday, November 1, 2001
Completion date
Saturday, March 1, 2003
Source material
Data were collected from the following sources. Archaeological archive, Archeologische en Bouwhistorische Centrum, Gemeente Utrecht. PhD thesis, Dr Henk Berensen, Dept Geography, University of Utrecht. Vector maps of the city of Utrecht and an outline version of the excavation database was available digitally prior to the project. Everything else was created during the project.

Wilkinson, Keith N. and de Groot, Huibert "The Roman and medieval waterfronts of Utrecht, the Netherlands: their history and significance." Medieval Archaeology (submitted).

Wilkinson, Keith N "Historic urban waterfront sequences as high resolution palaeoenvironmental proxies." Historical Archaeology (submitted).