Because of its unusual position, right up against the side wall of a small farmhouse, this hunebed and its neighbour D4 form one of the most remarkable hunebed sites in Drenthe. Despite standing by the side of the road, they are not immediately visible. You have to follow the signs to a narrow path that squeezes between two small dilapidated farmhouses and only then do you come face to face with the large green lichen-covered lumps of stone. Only then can you see that these are two hunebeds standing ‘head to tail’ one after the other along the path by the wall of the building.
Although almost complete, with all of the lintels and all but two of the uprights being present, these two hunebeds have never been restored. Only the cracks in the lintels have been filled with cement. Of the 13 lintels, 12 lie between the uprights which are themselves also out of position. Nevertheless they make a pretty picture, not least because of the wildly shaped branches of the old oak trees which partly spread out above the stones. Hidden in the hedge along the approach path stands the stone which once bore a Bronze nameplate. Placed by Prof. van Giffen, these nameplates seem to have become collectors’ items and most have sadly now disappeared.
Location of hunebed D3 in Midlaren
One of the characteristic farmhouses was bought in 2001 by “Het Drentse Landschap”, the organisation which is responsible for a number of hunebeds. This has guaranteed the future safety of this atmospheric farmstead. During the restoration in 2003 a relatively intact dish from the Funnel Beaker Culture was found under the floor of the barn, as well as a so-called ‘clearance pit’ containing many pottery shards. (Old objects were often cleared out to make room for the next generation).
Visit of Professor van Giffen in 1918
Van Giffen reported that the twins D3 and D4 had been bought by the Province in 1869. Before then, some researchers had thought that they formed one large hunebed. D3 is the western grave and van Giffen said that he found it “greatly disordered”. However, it was in fact almost complete with 6 lintels, 14 uprights and keystones and 2 portal stones. He was probably referring to the condition of the 6 lintels, all but one of which had sunk into the chamber. That is still the case because the tomb has never really been restored. He also stated that the site was “rather dangerous”, although it is not clear what he meant by that. The seven splendid oak trees which he described are still there.
(Source: Atlas of “De Hunebedden in Nederland”, dr.A.E.van Giffen)
For more information about this and other hunebeds in Drenthe see
www.hunebedden.nl and www.hunebeddeninfo.nl
D3 on old postcards
Text Hans Meijer
Translation Alun Harvey
Photos Davado and Hans Meijer