D38 forms, together with D39 and D40, a trio of hunebeds standing just north of Emmen on a heathfield in the Valtherbos. From the north the asphalt road through the woods becomes a sand path closed to vehicles. You could walk the rest of the way, but that is quite a distance – better to cycle, because there is a lovely asphalt cycle path leading past the hunebeds. The hunebeds can also be reached from Emmen via this path. D40 is the most interesting of the three. It has only two lintels, but massive ones, which lie neatly on the four uprights and two keystones. There is only one portal stone, the other is marked by a metal plate.
In 1918 this hunebed was still partly covered by its earthen mound, which was reason enough for Van Giffen to investigate the structure of the burial mound. The mound seemed to consist of a very large quantity of stones (known as packing). Van Giffen found evidence of a path to the top of the mound along which the lintels had been dragged. In the tomb chamber he found one of the missing portal uprights but he did not replace it. The number of artefacts was disappointing: a few scattered fragments of pottery and three stone tools. The mound was replaced after the examination but was later excavated again.
Three small hunebeds, close to each other. Why not one large one? Perhaps they were built by succeeding generations. We shall never know.
Location of D40
Visit of Professor van Giffen in 1918
The still largely intact covering mound is clearly visible on Van Giffen’s photo. He wrote: “The hunebed is, apart from the entrance, undisturbed and appears to be in its original condition”. Reason enough for him to carry out a more thorough excavation of the mound later. The 2 keystones and the 2 pairs of uprights bearing the 2 lintels are hidden beneath the mound. He found 1 portal stone. The monument came into State ownership in 1871.
(Source: Atlas of “De Hunebedden in Nederland”, dr.A.E.van Giffen, 1925)
For more information about this and other hunebeds in Drenthe see
www.hunebedden.nl and www.hunebeddeninfo.nl
Text Hans Meijer
Translation Alun Harvey
Photography Hans Meijer and Davado