Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-2 (November 2009)Quentin Bourgeois; Luc Amkreutz; Raphaël Panhuysen: The Niersen Beaker burial: A renewed study of a century-old excavation


In 1907, Holwerda uncovered an exceptional primary grave underneath a barrow on the eastern slope of the ice-pushed ridge of the Veluwe. The Niersen Beaker burial contained the human skeletal remains of multiple individuals. The preservation of the bones, extremely rare on the Dutch sandy upland, motivated Holwerda to lift the grave and transport it to the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO). The grave presents a rare insight into Beaker graves in the Netherlands, where skeletal remains are rarely preserved. A new physical anthropological analysis, paying particular attention to the taphonomy in the grave, and a critical review of what Holwerda observed in the field has allowed us to re-interpret the grave. In this article it will be argued that this grave contained not only the remains of a female in crouched position, but also the disarticulated remains of two more individuals placed at the back of the grave. Surprisingly not only human remains were uncovered, but also two bones belonging to a large mammal (a cow or a horse). The specific position of some skeletal remains and the description by Holwerda allow us to interpret the grave as a small open burial chamber on top of which a barrow was constructed.