On April 14, 1970, while fishing in the Oosterschelde in the vicinity of Colijnsplaat, skipper K.J. Bout discovered four large pieces of stone in his nets. Research showed that these pieces belonged to altars, dedicated to this goddess. Eventually, around 200 altars were brought to the surface.
Probably these altars were swallowed up by the sea as early as the 3rd century A.D. The parts lying in the clay soil have been preserved intact. Nehalennia is sitting on a throne, with a dog and a basket of fruit beside her. Over her dress she wears a small cloak, which is fastened by a pin (fibula).
Originally, Nehalennia was a goddess of fertility. Moreover, she was the patroness of hearth and home, of which the dog was a symbol. On top of that, she was the patroness of sailors, and as such was often depicted with a ship’s helm. This altar has been dedicated to her by a skipper or merchant as an expression of gratitude for a safe journey. The inscription reads: ‘Dacinus, the son of Liffio, has redeemed his pledge to the goddess Nehalennia, with pleasure and with good reason.’