The Neolithic wooden trackway XXI (Bou) in the raised bog at Nieuw-Dordrecht (the Netherlands)
The small village of Nieuw-Dordrecht (gemeente of Emmen, province of Drenthe) lies at the extremity of the southeastern outlying end of the Hondsrug. Formerly it was Bourtanger Moor, that has now been dug away for the most part (fig. 1). The Hondsrug is the eastern, highest part of the Drents Plateau, that became built up out of - mainly - fluvial sands at the beginning of the Riss Glacial. During the period when sheetice was present here in the Riss Pleniglacial a complex of boulder-clay was deposited on top of these sands. This entire sequence subsequently became cut through in many places by the cutting-back action of rivers and stream valleys during the Riss Glacial and the Würm Glacial. A severely dissected landscape has resulted from this. In many of these valleys the formation of fen peat had begun already towards the end of the Würm period and continued more extensively thereafter. In many places the boulder-clay is overlain by cover-sand.
The 'Ridge of Nieuw-Dordrecht', the above mentioned southeastern outlying end of the Hondsrug, consists to a considerable extent of a plate of boulder-clay, and for the rest of other deposits including cover-sands. Just from the southern extremity of the boulder-clay plate there runs the Neolithic wooden trackway XXI (Bou) (that is dated to between 4100 and 4020 C14-years) eastwards into the raised bog, the Bourtanger Moor (fig. 2).
As extensive archaeological research has shown over many decades, Southeast Drenthe was formerly intensively occupied. From the Middle Neolithic on (Trechterbekerkultuur = TRB i.e. Funnel-Beaker culture) there appears to have been continuous inhabitation, though also Mesolithic finds in this region are abundant. Many sand-ridges in the valley to the east of the Hondsrug, the Hunze valley, in which the Bourtanger Moor developed, have yielded Mesolithic artefacts (flint) and small hearths. Here and there Upper Palaeolithic material has been found, especially of the Tjonger tradition.
The Neolithic wooden trackway, that was found in the course of peat digging as long ago as the beginning of this century, has been the subject of research at different times. Thus since 1955 during four excavations a total length of 200 m of trackway has been exposed. (fig. 3 ). In addition, extensive investigations on this region involving pollen analysis and peat research have provided a clear insight into the development of the vegetation and the process of peat formation.
This article can be seen as the final report of the great amount of research that has been carried out by various people.