Farming on the banks of the river Aa. The faunal remains and bone objects of Paddepoel 200 B.C.-250 A.D.


  • E. Knol


(p. 174)

During the 1964 excavation of small terpen in the Paddepoel area of the city of Groningen, 2,308 bone fragments were collected. Forty-six of these came from a small Early Medieval graveyard on top of which a farmhouse had later been built. This Paddepoel IV excavation was different from the other three in time and place. Here, cattle, sheep and horse were found.

The other three find-sites, Paddepoel I, II and III, were agrarian settlements, inhabited from 200 B .C. to 250 A.D., on slightly brackish soil which in winter was occasionally flooded with seawater. The faunal spectrum consisted of cattle (6 %), horse (11 %), sheep (10 %), goat (1 %), dog (1 %), pig (1 %) and hen (1 %). Four fragments of big game were found but they are rather evidence of import than of hunting. Due to the method of collecting, it is possible that remains of small game, poultry and fish were overlooked. This fauna spectrum largely agrees with that of terpen such as Feddersen Wierde. The number of horse is conspicuous. In terpen which were situated closer to the sea, such as Tritsum and Elisenhof, the percentage of sheep bones was higher, perhaps because of the absence of liverfluke and/or botanical differences. Closer to the sea, the percentage of horse bones is lower. No Roman influence on horse-breeding could be demonstrated. The biotope was not particularly suitable for keeping pigs.

The inhabitants of the Paddepoel terp probably had contact with contemporaneous settlements on the same side of the river. The terp of Dorkwerd and the clay-covered settlements in Vinkhuizen (Waterbolk et al., 1976) were presumably inhabited at that time. It is also likely that there were contacts with people living on the Hondsrug. The river Aa was presumably their line of communication. Van Giffen et al. (1973) found indications of habitation during the first centuries A.D. on the Hondsrug in the centre of Groningen, at a distance of c. 2 km.

Several bone tools were found, including spindle-whorls, awls and scrapers. Highly polished metapodia were used in weaving or the tanning of leather. Four human bone fragments were found in two terpen of the early terp period. No light was shed on the method of disposal of corpses. Burial would appear to be unlikely in view of the fact that the whole area was turned upside-down for the new town development. Burial sites would certainly have been noticed and probably not have been kept secret.