The English have Stonehenge, the French have Menhirs, but the Dutch have something which dates even further back in time, namely the dolmens. Dolmens, or as the Dutch call them hunebedden, are megalithic tombs or burial mounds. These large stones lined up in two rows supporting a larger top stone, date back to the Neolithic period, about 5.000 years ago. This means that they are older than the Egyptian pyramids.

And similar to the pyramids, there are still unanswered questions about them. Holland is a flat country, without mountains or rocks, yet within only 30 kilometers, 53 hunebedden are scattered over a beautiful landscape in the Dutch north. Hunebed literally means ‘giant bed’ in old Dutch, and for centuries, people did indeed believe that giants had made the dolmens. Who else would drag 20.000 kilograms stones around?

Nowadays we know that these giant stones aren’t from the Netherlands. They were transported by slow-moving ice-glaciers about 200,000 years ago, when most of northern Europe was covered by a thick layer of ice. Even today, digging in Drenthe's soil, smaller and bigger stones emerge.

When the hunters who visited Drenthe about 4000 BC decided to change their culture and lifestyle, and settle down here, the boulders were already scattered around the landscape. This area, called the Hondsrug, was the only dry place in the area, the rest all being swampy clay land. The hunters learned to grow wheat, domesticate cattle and to build farmhouses. They cut the woods with stone axes and cultivated the arable land. At about 3450 BC they started building the huge stone graves using big boulders. In the graves, they left their beautifully decorated pottery as a gift for the dead.

When the hunters who visited Drenthe about 4000 BC decided to change their culture and lifestyle, and settle down here, the boulders were already scattered around the landscape. This area, called the Hondsrug, was the only dry place in the area, the rest all being swampy clay land. The hunters learned to grow wheat, domesticate cattle and to build farmhouses. They cut the woods with stone axes and cultivated the arable land. At about 3450 BC they started building the huge stone graves using big boulders. In the graves, they left their beautifully decorated pottery as a gift for the dead.

More information: www.hunebedcentrum.eu

More information: www.dehondsrug.nl

For more on the Netherlands: http://www.hi-europe.net/Netherlands


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