Before AD 850
Geologically the southeast of Flanders was alternatively part of the ice cap and a flood area of the North Sea, with sediments of clay and sand along the seashore. Nowadays Ename is part of the landscape of the Flemish Ardennes with hills of up to 150 m. Fig. 1
Since the last 30,000 years, the Scheldt has eroded a large valley through this landscape. The source of the river is situated in northern France and it flows north through Ghent and Antwerp and out into the North Sea in an estuary. Having access to the North Sea and the rivers of France, the Netherlands and Germany, Flanders and Hainaut are fully connected with major commercial areas in Europe.
The Scheldt has a strongly meandering course and a total length of 350 km, whereas the drop is only 95 m. The river forms a boundary between a fertile loam area on the right bank and sand and loam land on the left bank. These characteristics were of economic, political and military importance for the history of the region.
Ename is situated on the left bank between the alluvial plain of the river and an area of mixed broad-leaved forest and thickets along the steep slope of the river.
The oldest traces of human presence date from 5000 years ago. Human activity in this region is to be situated in the middle-neolithicum Fig. 2, in the transition period of late-neolithicum to the bronze age and from late-bronze age to the iron age. There are no traces of settlement – people lived on higher situated platters near their fields – the lower swamps were the place for hunting and cattle breeding.
So far there has been no archaeological investigation on bronze and iron age in the wood Bos t’Ename.
Parallel to the Scheldt a Roman road led from Ghent to Tournai and crossed south from Ename the Roman road from Boulogne to Cologne. Archaeological prove of Roman presence has been found underneath the Saint Lawrence church. The site was 2000 years ago used for agriculture. Small fragments of Roman pottery from the 1st and 2nd century AD were found in the ditches. Fig. 3
After the invasion of German tribes during the 2nd and the 3rd century AD the neighbourhood of the Saint Lawrence church remained agrarian. The Roman level was covered with a layer for ploughing in which fragments of pottery were found, probably from early medieval times.
In early medieval Frankish times Ename was part of a big domain, the villa Ehinham with center in the neighbouring village Nederename, on the edge of a flooding area of the Scheldt: meadows on the lower parts, farming lands on the higher grounds and the forest Bos t’Ename for fire – and building material and pig breeding.
1 Bogaert, Chris, Lanclus, Kathleen, e.a., Bouwen door de eeuwen heen in Vlaanderen. Inventaris van het cultuurbezit in België. Architectuur, Deel 15n 1, Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen. Arrondissement Oudenaarde. Stad Oudenaarde met fusiegemeenten. Brussel, Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Departement LIN AROHM. Afdeling Monumenten en Landschappen, 1996, pp. 278-281
2 Berings, Geert, Landschap, geschiedenis en archeologie in het Oudenaardse, Stadsbestuur Oudenaarde, 1989, p. 39-44
3 Vermeulen, Frank, Tussen Leie en Schelde. Archeologische inventaris en studie van de Romeinse bewoning in het zuiden van de Vlaamse Zandstreek, Gent, Arch.I.V, vzw, 1992, pp. 17, 27-36
4 Diriken, Pierre, Geogids Vlaamse Ardennen, Kortessem, Georeto, 2001, 3 dln
5 Millis, Ludo, Uit het rijke verleden van Ename. 974-1974, Oudenaarde-Ename, 1974, Ill, p. 25
6 Tack, Guido, Van Den Bremt, Paul and Hermy, Martin, Bossen van Vlaanderen, Een historische ecologie. Leuven, Davindsfonds, 1993. Krtn., tab., ill., p. 230
7 Van de Walle, A.L.J., ‘De Sint-Vedastuskerk te Nederename, een Xe eeuwse praestedelijke moederkerk’, Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van Oudenaarde, dl. X, afl. 1, 1982, pp. 19-31
8 Callebaut, Dirk, Ameels, Vera and De Groote, Koen, Ename Sint-Laurentiuskerk. Archeologisch onderzoek. Voorlopig verslag, Brussel, 2001, p. 18
9 Ameels, Vera, Bastiaens, Jan and Bats, Machteld, e.a., ‘Recent Steentijdonderzoek in de regio Oudenaarde (Oost-Vlaanderen, België)’, Notae Praehistoricae, 23, 2003, pp. 61-65
10 Diriken, Pierre, Geogids Vlaamse Ardennen, Kortessem, Georeto, 2001, 3 dln
11 De Groote, Koen, Middeleeuws aardewerk in Vlaanderen. Techniek, typologie, chronologie en evolutie van het gebruiksgoed in de regio Oudenaarde in de volle en late middeleeuwen (10 de -16 de eeuw), Brussel, 2008, Dl. 1, pp. 41-62
12 Berings, Geert, Landschap, geschiedenis en archeologie in het Oudenaardse, Stadsbestuur Oudenaarde, 1989, pp. 39-44