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Waalsdorp, a historical site


Over the ages, the location of TNO Defence, Security, and Safety at Waalsdorp in the Hague is at the "Vlakte van Waalsdorp". This piece of 'flat land' has showed many faces, both in the nature of the landscape and in the use of it.

First, about 1500 before Christ, the region was part of an extensive marine sand-plain. The scattering of sand by the wind created rows of dunes and so the "Old Dunes" (in the time before Christ) as well as the "Young Dunes" (in the Middle Ages) were formed.
Between these rows of dunes moist valleys were formed which led to the growing of peat-moor layers, at a later stage woods arose. The extensive felling of trees in the Middle Ages and renewed scattering-periods caused the original (very old) peat layers to come to the surface and the fairly "barren" Vlakte van Waalsdorp was created. Such a location is often called a "geological window".

In the younger Bronze Age (1100-700 BC) and the younger Iron Age (400 BC - 0 AD) groups of hunters wandered in the valley and half-permanent settlements were formed on the northern edge of it.

In the Roman Age (50 BC- 400 AD) and later on in the Middle Ages (1000 AD - 1500 AD) there were some attempts to settle down more permanently, and even agricultural activities were started. At least two times the agricultural use of the soil was suddenly interrupted by the quick scattering of dune-sand (in the beginning of the 13th century and somewhere during the 14th/15th centuries).

In the time following the now existing dune landscape was formed. From the second half of the 18th century (possibly even earlier) the Vlakte van Waalsdorp was used as a military training-ground. As you may know, in 1927 the foundation of the present TNO location The Hague Waalsdorp was laid at this location.

The story of the origin of the valley was formed from the results of excavations and findings by professional archaeologists and the activities and findings of amateurish archaeologists as well. Both the professional and the amateurish activities are recorded well by means of reports and magazine papers. The first director of the former "Meetgebouw" (Measurements Building) Ir.J.L.van Soest mapped as amateur the region archaeologically.

From the early habitation mainly crocks (potsherds) have been found. Also the remnants of fireplaces (from habitation or from wandering hunters) and traces of digging have been found. It's a fact that the floor of the museum Waalsdorp lies in the middle of a field created in the Middle Ages.

From the period 0 AD till these days also other utilities have been found such as coat-pins, buttons, coins, etc. The military history can be recognised from the findings of ammunition rests and parts of weapons and equipment.


ammunition discovery


1. young dunes
2. natural soil on old dunes
3. mediaeval field base
4. humus base with spade traces
5. peat
6. old dunes
(click figure to enlarge)

1. excavation pit
2. established ditches
3. reconstructed ditches
4. established filled-up ditches
5. reconstructed filled-up ditches
(click figure to enlarge)


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