Bones of the great auk (Pinguinus impennis) have been found in four archaeological sites in the Netherlands in recent years. These sites all date to the early Roman period. The great auk is believed never to have been a breeding bird in the Netherlands, which makes the presence of the bones remarkable. The history and ecology of the great aukare outlined. Some possible reasons are discussed for the presence of the great auk in Dutch waters during the early Roman period. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.