Drenthe is filled with stone-age archeological sites, and the Northern Netherlands has been inhabited for several thousand years
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The Drents media company RTV Drenthe was posed the question ‘where is the oldest inhabited place or village in Drenthe?’ As RTV Drenthe reports, the question is more difficult than it sounds, with multiple places in the Province claiming the ‘oldest’ title.
Noordbarge, near Emmen, is one of the claimants. “Noordbarge was already inhabited at the time of the ‘funnel-beaker culture’ [an archeological culture in Northern Europe dating from about 4,300 BCE to 2800 BCE] and is the only village in Drenthe that has been inhabited continuously since then. So, Noordbarge is the oldest village in Drenthe and probably the Netherlands”, says the villages’ website.
However, Taarlo, about five kilometres to the north-east of Assen, also claims the title, having been named in a charter in the year 820 BCE. However there is some confusion about what the charter document actually refers to, and it is possible that the village of ‘Arlo’ mentioned is actually either Tynaarlo or indeed Vries- both of which are also historic Drenths villages.
RTV Drenthe then asked Michiel Gerding, the provincial historian, who answered “you can’t really say that there is an oldest place in Drenthe”. “Every village is the oldest in Drenthe”, he added, “take for example Pesse, which was first named in 1141. You could surmise from this that the village is about 879 years old. However new research has shown that it had namesake people in around the period of 600CE to 700CE. These ‘heirs’ moved about quite a bit, and so the village is actually significantly older than the records might show. This is true for all of the villages on the Drents Plateau. Pesse, indeed, existed in the year 800BCE, before Roman times and in the Bronze Age”, says Gerding.
Most of the villages that claim the title sit on the Drents Plateau. “In general its held that the creation of a village is when its name is adopted in a deed, for example something issued by a Bishop, and that marks the first written confirmation of the name… But that doesn’t actually say if there were residents there before that”, says Gerding.
“Since the oldest settlements are on the Drents Plateau, you can’t speak of an oldest village, but an oldest area”, surmises the historian.
Image via Marketing Drenthe