Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 2-2 (November 2010)Bart Vanmontfort; Marijn Van Gils; Etienne Paulissen; Jan Bastiaens; Marc De Bie; Els Meirsman: Human occupation of the Late and Early Post-Glacial environments in the Liereman Landscape (Campine, Belgium)

2 The setting

The Liereman Landscape is a 1020 ha nature reserve in the Belgian Northern Campine region (fig. 2a, 2b). In this area podzols (spodosols) and peaty soils on coversands predominate. Central to this paper is a large southwest-northeast oriented dune complex with a typical blown sand topography consisting of a variety of low dunes and depressions of which the easternmost extension is situated in the municipality of Arendonk and known under the toponym Korhaan. To the east and south it is bordered by a number of depressions. Altitudes in the Liereman Landscape range from 29 m a.s.l. in the dune complex to 23 m in the depression.


Fig. 3 19th-century map depicting only parcels and land-use clearly showing wet depressions. The Korhaan sand ridge is indicated by the yellow line (“map of Belgium, reduction of the cadastral plans”, 1852).

Landschap De Liereman was formerly part of a vast heathland area with marshes and/or open water, as shown on 18th- and 19th-century maps (fig. 3). Sheep grazing and sod cutting were the main activities. From the 19th century onwards, most heathland and marshes have been reclaimed and transformed into arable land, grassland and pine forests. For reasons of habitat restoration, the pine forests in the dune belt are nowadays cut and the sods are removed to recreate heathland. There are no indications, archaeologically or otherwise, so far of human occupation of any importance after the prehistoric periods discussed in this paper.


Fig. 4 The Korhaan sand ridge, covered with pine, as seen from the depression nowadays in use as grassland ( Van Gils et al. 2009 ).