The Hoge Veluwe National Park in Holland is a beautiful protected nature area of woodland and sand dunes with kilometers of walking and cycling paths. The area also contains many reminders of prehistory as well as the more recent past. Near the village of Wolfheze, 10 km northwest of Arnhem, is an area of ancient monuments known as Oud-Wolfheze. With its burial mounds, earthworks and medieval cart tracks, it is little wonder that the area is designated a protected archaeological monument.
The Natuurmonumenten organisation has marked out a circular walking route of 4.5 km passing these monuments, which begins at the car park. The first point of interest is an impressive double barrier consisting of two walls with ditches across the track which served as a tollgate. Various medieval cart tracks can be clearly seen all over this area, all of which lead to the point where the barrier can be crossed.
In an area that today is a wood, stands the Wodanseiken or Wotan’s Oaks. Johannes and Gerard Bilders, father and son Romantic landscape painters, gave it this name in 1850. Historical accuracy was not the first priority for the Romantics – the oaks do not date from ancient Germanic times but are nevertheless an impressive 500 years old.
The whole area is dotted with 15 burial mounds or tumuli, dating from the late Neolithicum to the Bronze Age between 2850 and 1100 BC. Where the route passes the grazing cattle and leaves the wood, the landscape opens up into a heathfield dominated by the prominent Koningsberg. This late Neolithic burial mound got its name because of the wealth of grave goods found when the site was excavated; pottery from the Bell Beaker Culture, a dagger and flint wrist-guards for archers.
Further on, the walk passes a small church destroyed by the Spaniards in 1585 and a 16th century bastion.
Text Frank Wiersma
Translation Alun Harvey