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stepping stones of maritime history


The Roman (city) name Ganuenta is only known from an inscription of an altar stone of the ancient goddess Nehallenia. She was worshipped in Roman times in the province of Germania Inferior. She was the patrones of seafarers.

In 1970 fishermen discovered more then 160 altar stones dedicated to Nehalennia in the Eastern Scheldt estuary, northwest of Colijnsplaat. It is suggested that Ganuenta was a Roman seaport and possibly the capital of the civitas (region) of the Frisiavoni (tribe). Most alter pieces show a young female figure, sitting on a throne in a templum, holding a basket of apples on her lap. Nearly always, there is a wolf dog at her side. In some cases the goddess is standing next to a ship or a prow.

There were at least two temples dedicated to the goddess in the region. One at Ganuenta (Colijnsplaat) and one near Domburg. Several altarstones were discovered there already in 1647.

Nehellenia altar.

Nehalennia goddess of the seafarer

The goddess Nehalennia was invoced by seamen. Several inscriptions inform us that the votive altar was placed to show gratitude for a safe passage across the North Sea to Brittain. Nehelannia is also depicted with a steering rudder or standing on a ship. A typical inscription: DEAE NEHALENNIAE / VEGISONIVS MAR/TINVS CIVES / SECVANVS NAVTA / V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens) M(erito). To the goddess Nehalennia Vegisonius Martinus, civlian from the country of the Sequani [Besançon] and seaman has devoted this altar willingly and with reason.


Nehalennia standing on a ship (RMO, Leiden The Netherlands).



Ganuenta port of call between Roman Britain and the Scheld Rhine estuaria. Part of Germania Inferior.

No votive altar can be dated after 227, and archaeologists have discovered almost nothing from Late Antiquity in this part of the Netherlands. This suggests that the site and the area were abandoned at some moment in the mid-third century.

Modern replica of Gallo-Roman temple in Colijnsplaat.


Nehallenia Archeologische Duikteam


  • Nehallenia Archeologisch Duikteam.
  • P. Stuart and J.E. Bogaers, (2001).
    Nehalennia. Römische Steindenkmäleraus der Oosterschelde bei Colijnsplaat.
  • To the goddess Nehalennia,on account of goods duly kept safe,Marcus Secundinius Silvanus,trader in pottery with Britain,fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly.

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