Cultural History

Fascinating cultural history

Ancient burial mounds and megalithic tombs

Some places in the Drents-Friese Wold harbour burial mounds from the Iron and Bronze Age, approximately 500 to 2000 BC. These mounds were used by the then inhabitants of the area, to bury their dead. In the late Bronze Age and the early Iron Age, ashes were stored in earthenware urns. In the later Iron Age, their loved ones were cremated and a mound was erected over them. Most burial mounds have been restored recently. All burial mounds can be viewed. The map indicates where they are.

The megalithic tomb in Diever stems from between 3400 and 2600 BC. Megalithic tombs are vaults in which the dead are interred, together with some burial gifts, like exquisitely decorated funnel beakers. Once upon a time, megalithic tombs would have looked quite differently, being part of a sandy hill. Only the cover stones would have protruded. There originally was another megalithic tomb in the national park. A restored hill can be viewed in Berkenheuvel where the large original tomb was demolished in 1735. The hill may be found along the yellow walking track through Berkenheuvel’s southern part. More information on the history of megalithic tombs and burial mounds around Diever can be found on the website of Archeologisch Centrum West-Drenthe.

Sounding Clocks

The Frisian part of the Drents-Friese Wold is part of the Stellingwerven. In this area, there are klokkenstoelen (clock chairs) in many places. In the olden days, klokkenstoelen were habitually built instead of clock towers. Klokkenstoelen are wooden structures in which a sounding bell was hung. Some klokkenstoelen can be viewed in Fochteloo and along the road to the visitors centre in Appelscha. A klokkenstoel without a church can be found on the cemetery of the village of Langendijke. This klokkenstoel contains one of the oldest clocks in Europe.

Mystery in the brook valley

When a new riverbed was dug for the Vledder Aa, the digger found a large round discolouration in the soil. Further research did not reveal any traces of archaeological origin. There had to be a more recent origin. Going by its size, an explanation for the phenomena could be found in a one-time ring ditch, used to set up a ‘tjasker’. These are small diagonally placed wooden field mills, which the farmers could turn into the wind by themselves, thus enabling them to mill out the water in a somewhat primitive manner. It seems that flooding has been an agricultural problem in this area for a long time. The forests in Smilde also harbour a place that was once the location of a tjasker. If you are interested to know what a tjasker looks like, have a look at the Stobbepoel close to Elsloo. Here you can find a restored mill in working order.

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