Great interest in the ‘Valhalla of Archaeology’


AALTEN – The drilling and other activities at the site of the former monastery of Nazareth attract many interested parties. Mayor Anton Stapelkamp from the municipality of Aalten states: “The place where nobles founded peace, where in his heyday 40 canons lived and worked together, where history lives, the Valhalla of archaeology!”

By Karin Stronks

It is dry but humid, a thick cloud cover lies over the farm Veerbeek, the cattle farm of Stefans and Ingrid Maas, which was built almost on top of the Monastery of Nazareth, popularly called the Monastery of Schaer. The Maas family has cleaned up everything, a frame has been set up under the barn, where the flag from 1572 hangs with the four Vs, which stand for Tolerance, Freedom, Connectedness and Variety. Drawings of the agricultural lands and the monastery can be seen. Benches and tables are placed. There is coffee, tea and orange juice. Reading material is available for inspection, including the hardback ‘Windesheimers op de heide’ by Hans de Graaf and the yearbook Achterhoek en Liemers, which this year is devoted exclusively to 1572, the birth of Holland.
On a table are finds that have already been made at the site of the Nazareth monastery. A human jaw, flat slates with holes from nails still in them, monastery mops, shards of pots. Adults and children take a look and receive an explanation from Annemieke Lugtheid, archaeologist from the Achterhoek Environmental Service.
There are three activities on the program: children can search for shards in a container and take a look at the archaeological hotspot, you can look at the archaeological research and those interested can take part in a walk to the monastery sconce aka hermitage. In a large box there are scoops, spatulas, cups and tape, with these supplies children can get started.
The program starts with a short speech by Mayor Anton Stapelkamp, ​​after which Hans de Graaf tells something about the history of Nazareth Monastery. He begins: “The cloister was built in 1429, made possible in part by a generous donation from Derck van Lintelo. In 1472, the construction of a chapel was completed, a structure with stained glass windows and eleven altars. The monastery is flourishing, with forty canons living in its heyday. The entire egg-shaped complex is 118 hectares, for comparison: 236 football pitches. In 1572, as the 80 Years’ War rages on, the monastery is looted, books are burned. Cannons flee to Bocholt. The last battle for the monastery follows in 1597, when Maurits Bredevoort shoots into ruins. The damage is so great that the monastery is lost. Stones and monastery jokes are used to rebuild Bredevoort. In 1610 the lands were confiscated by the Court of Gelre. They pay priests and teachers from the proceeds of the estate. Supporters of the ‘ old faith’ should keep a low profile…”
And then the company splits. Those interested join the archaeologists Huub Scholte Lubberink and Renske den Boer, who will carry out the drilling. Another group goes with Hans de Graaf to the mysterious hermitage or redoubt. The third group, the youngest present, climbed into the container armed with shovels, cups or spatulas to search for shards. Hans de Graaf: “How wonderful that you are here, tomorrow’s archaeologists! You can ask Annemieke Lugtheid questions about the findings. You can take the found shards home with you!”
“We’re going for a walk”, says De Graaf firmly, and a large group follows him up the Kloosterdijk, along with Jos Wessels from committee 1572 and Ingrid Maas with her son Steve, who lives on the Veerbeek farm, landlady and landlady of this one. special morning. Near the forest path, a kind of dyke with wooden deposits on both sides, we stop for a while. “There used to be a water mill here, the cannons built this dyke. There was a pond on both sides. It was very wet then, the cannons built a series of ditches to drain the water. Inventive as they were back then!” Jos Wessels explains that this place is also called ‘möllendiek’.
We enter the low-lying forest. Every now and then we stop to listen to some history and details about this area. “The fact that a real monastery used to exist here is special, isn’t it? Look, where is the farm, we were just there, the archaeologists are now excavating there,’ a mother points out to her two daughters. Hans de Graaf: “The barn of the farm lies on the foundation of the former chapel.”
A little further there is another stop, Hans de Graaf points to a bush. “Certainly there has been a field oven in the past where bricks were baked. Incidentally, it dates from a later time, around 1700. The canons also had an oven, they also baked bricks and monastery jokes.”
It goes on, into the monastery forest. Then we arrive at the edge of the forest by a bridge, a little higher in the forest there is an information board. “If you don’t know there’s a sign here, you can walk right past it,” notes one of the hikers. De Graaf: “This is a bit of a mystical place, this has been a kind of meditation place, where the canons retreated to immerse themselves, to get to the eternal in silence… On a map of the monastery grounds is the text ‘Eremus in Aquis’ ‘, Latin for hermitage or hermitage between the waters. In monastic terms this could mean a remote place, a home for a hermit.”
Hans de Graaf continues: “Another explanation for this place is that it is a shelter, a redoubt, where soldiers could ‘entrench themselves’, hide. This redoubt should date from the beginning of the 1980s war. There would have been a cannon. The discovery of a dagger and a few musket balls supports this idea.”
We all take a look at the board, which contains explanations and drawings of the situation in the past. Then we go back to the Veerbeek farm, where drilling is still in full swing. Archaeologists Renske den Boer and Huub Scholte Lubberink drill manually in the farm’s front garden in two places. A little further on, there is also some rubble, mortar, next to a black tube with a mobile phone. Around 12:30 the two archaeologists stop their work and report their first find.
Scholte Lubberink: “We have entered all the data on the computer. It is clear that there has been a foundation here, probably from a wall, wider at the bottom than at the top to strengthen the site. It is remarkable that the foundation is still in the ground. If we want more information, we’ll have to dig a hole or do radar research, but that’s very expensive.”
Finally, Hans de Graaf thanks Stefan and Ingrid Maas for their hospitality, they receive an envelope with contents. When those interested go home, it starts to rain…

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