Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-1 (May 2009)Leendert P. Louwe Kooijmans: The agency factor in the process of Neolithisation – a Dutch case study1

3 The sites

Each time that large-scale digging activities were carried out in the past fifteen years, remains of Neolithic occupation on the buried dunes came to light - eighteen sites in total, comprising four microregions: Wateringen, Wateringse Veld, Schipluiden-Rijswijk and Ypenburg, implying intensive use of the young landscape. In some cases separate subsites were distinguished. Some of the sites were merely reported, but four have actually been excavated.

The first remains to come to light, during an investigation of the trench dug for the A4 motorway in 1984, were a concentration of some bones and broken stone. Unfortunately, almost the entire site had been disturbed (Van der Valk, pers. comm.; ARCHIS national archaeological database).

Nine years later, when work on the A4 continued near Rijswijk, the trench was found to intersect several dunes. On one of those dunes (site 1) a narrow strip of a settlement was excavated. The research on the other dunes was restricted to observations. The excavation was too limited to allow any statements to be made about the size of the dune and the settlement (Koot 1994).

In 1994 another dune with occupation remains was discovered in the trench of a road bypassing Wateringen. This site was called ‘Wateringen 4’to distinguish it from other – Iron Age – sites nearby. The excavation that was carried out here in 1995 revealed the remains of a small settlement that were accurately recorded (Raemaekers et al. 1997). The dune was found to represent a single-house site that was used for only a short period of time.

Yet another year later 25 hectares of the area known as Wateringse Veld, between Rijswijk and Wateringen, was explored by means of coring prior to the construction of an urban district. That area was also found to contain relatively small dunes, four in total (sites 5-8), all covered with a top layer coloured black by finely distributed charcoal (Oude Rengerink 1996).

In 1997 a large new residential area was built at the site of the former military airport Ypenburg. Within a period of four years, occupation remains and a spectacular cemetery were excavated across a large dune complex. Seven concentrations of postholes with associated wells and pits were found (Koot et al. 2008).

What is at present the last settlement came to light at the site of a new wastewater purification plant in the former municipality of Schipluiden. This site was excavated almost in its entirety in 2003. It is a compact settlement with a high density of finds whose occupants intensively exploited the entire dune right up to its peripheries and also the surrounding zone for a period of more than two centuries (Louwe Kooijmans & Jongste 2006).


Table 1 Delfland, Hazendonk group, survey of the settlements, features and finds in figures.