A section of the 17th century defensive Helpman Line has been uncovered during construction works for a new block of flats behind the DUO “cruise ship” building in Groningen.
RTV Noord reports that the defensive structure was part of the Helpman Line, which began being built in 1695 following the siege by Bommen Berend. The structure was created to provide the city an additional line of defence to protect the city walls.
The municipality says that the segment of the former defensive line was well preserved and was uncovered at the grounds of the Kempkensberg building, which is better known as the “cruise ship” and houses the Dutch financial aid organisation, DUO. A block of flats is currently under construction at the site.
The line consisted of a “dry” canal and a “wet” canal comparable to the design of the Bourtange star-shaped city defences. The brick structure took years to complete and was extremely expensive for the city, but it fell into disuse because Groningen was never the target of any subsequent attempted sieges.
The defensive line was located at the southern border of the city between the Sterrebos and Helpman, and stretched from the Winschoterdiep to the Hoornsediep. The outline of the line is still easily recognisable by the shape of parcels of land and water ways south of the older portion of the city.
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that other sections of the line had previously been uncovered at the site, and city archaeologists have long been trying to get a better picture of the scope of the line. Much of the line was dismantled in 1878.
Archaeologically significant finds are regularly uncovered across the north. A cannon ball dated back to the Bommen Berend siege was found at another construction site in Groningen last summer, and centuries-old barracks were uncovered Coevorden in September and in Delfzijl in December.
Photo source: Municipality of Groningen