Remains well-preserved area of Roman artisans were discovered in Terouanne, in northern France. Remains from the imperial era have been found at the bottom of a slope along the River Lys, whose alluvial deposits have covered the site in thick layers of sediment, preserving organic remains including the wooden structure of the canal, leather shoes, and the bones of slaughtered livestock.
The remains consist of two buildings and a canal. The foundations of the first building are preserved, and their preserved height increases as you descend the slope. The southeast end, close to the river, is a chalk platform built on wooden piles. Archaeologists believe that these were mounds of dry stone that served as a pier.
Much more has survived from the second building. The original high walls are in place, as are the silt floors. These were common architectural features of ancient workplaces adjoining the city, but they are extremely rare to have survived. A blue glass cylinder and a furnace with a drop of blue glass identify the building as a glass blower’s workshop. There is evidence of several stages of occupation which indicate that it has been in use for centuries.
The canal that guides the Lys was built during the Early Empire and is the first of its kind to be discovered in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area. Its excellent condition has allowed archaeologists to study how a stable bank was built on the northwestern slope of Lys.
This bank is a sequence of at least three bends (boards nailed together with piles) with a line of additional piles in the water. The canal is present on the right-of-way for approximately 30m and its connection to the first building, partly located on the “quay”, has yet to be emphasized.
Excavation of the levels located at the bottom of the channel is very difficult, because the constant rise of the water (the site was completely flooded three times during the intervention) does not allow recognition of the stratigraphy. However, several tests carried out in the deposits yielded many and very well preserved artifacts. There are many coins, small bronze objects with gilding, stilettos, brooches and elegant golden brooches. Larger objects were also found, such as hooks (objects related to shipping), keys, plates and metal rods, large exogenous pebbles and grooved in length, which undoubtedly served as an anchor or ballast for the net.
There were also large quantities of chopped cattle bones, many of which were sorted by butchers to be discarded while the right cuts, spiked leather shoes, and leather scraps were sold. The scraps are cut into shapes (mostly triangles), indicating that the site was occupied by a shoemaker and a tannery, who used the waste from the meat industry and the river for their supplies.