There is only one hunebed within the borders of Assen, the provincial capital of Drenthe. It is a medium-sized hunebed close to the rustic village of Loon and it stands on the higher-lying Looner Es. This field had been left untouched during the redistribution of land. (This was a process by which farmers swapped parcels of land in order to consolidate their fields into one more efficient single holding). Up until 1870 this hunebed gradually sank into its own chamber beneath its covering mound. Then the “restorers”, under the approving eye of the Provincial Governor Mr. Gregory, decided that it was necessary to uncover this archaeological monument. At that time, the conventional thinking was that the covering mounds of hunebeds were not in fact original but had been caused by the later formation of sand dunes.
Four of the five lintels still sit neatly in place; of the fifth there is only a fragment and that lies on the ground. All 12 uprights and keystones remain and the portal is also complete: 4 uprights and one lintel. The Loon hunebed can also boast a fine circle of ringstones. At least 18 of the 23 still remain, which is unusual because in the past these were usually the first stones to be stolen.
This fine piece of pottery was found in 1974 together with a large piece of bronze and a beaker which were illegally excavated at the entrance portal of D15. It is known as a bell beaker from the culture with the same name (2450 – 2000 BC). Although the people of this culture usually buried their dead in tumuli, it seems that there were also occasional burials in hunebeds or perhaps people placed sacrifices here. After some persuasion the finders, two youngsters from Assen, handed over their booty to the Drents Museum.
D15 is the only hunebed which can be seen from a train. (Look out of the right window, 4 minutes after leaving Assen towards Groningen)
Location of D15 Loon
Visit of Professor van Giffen 1918
Around 80 years ago the countryside around Assen was a desolate heathland (see also D5). Van Giffen wrote of D15 : “Despite the large number of ringstones present, it is in a badly damaged state”. Presumably he was referring to the lintels, one of which was in fragments and the other 4 “tilted, displaced or fallen over”. The 10 uprights were in a better condition but he had doubts about the portal stones. Today D15 has a fine entrance portal, although this is more the result of guesswork and some amateur building, rather than any scientific accuracy.
(Source: Atlas of “De Hunebedden in Nederland”, dr.A.E.van Giffen)
Text Hans Meijer
Translation Alun Harvey
Photos Hans Meijer and Davado