Close to the village of Gieten lies a nature area consisting of a copse of oak trees. Coppicing is a method of managing woodland by cutting young tree stems almost to the ground in order to allow new shoots to grow. The name Zwanemeerbos (Swan Lake Wood) has been in use for a very long time and is even older than the nearby lake itself, which was formed as a result of sand extraction. As well as its natural beauty, the area conceals all kinds of traces of the past, including 26 ancient burial mounds, spread out in three groups. From surveys (in 1994) and archaeological research (1950) it appears that these burial mounds date mainly from the Iron Age (between ca 800 BC and the beginning of the Christian Era). Most of the mounds are ‘Cremation Mounds’, i.e. mounds raised over cremated remains. The core consists of the charcoal from the cremation together with some pottery remains.
A very old track still runs through this area, linking Groningen with Coevorden in the south. It is called the Oude Groningerweg or Old Groningen Road.
The Groningen Water Company has laid out a 6 km walk which begins at the Zwanemeerbos (Car park at Oude Groningerweg 18, Gieten) and then explores the surrounding area, including the water extraction area of the Breevenen.
Text Harrie Wolters Translation Alun Harvey