Het middeleeuwse veenontginningslandschap bij Scheemda


  • W.A. Casparie
  • J. Molema


The village here referred to as het oude Scheemda (c. 1200-1509 AD) was a raised-bog settlement. It disappeared due to drainage problems which could no longer be effectively managed. Two suggestions are presented in this article as to how this ultimately untenable situation developed. Calculation of the shrinkage of the peat deposits due to drainage and cultivation shows that the ground surface sank from c. 2.0m +N.A.P. (= Dutch Datum Level) to 0.3 m +N.A.P. or even lower. Analysis of the present day drainage practices at the Nieuwe Statenzijl sluices indicates that all land below N.A.P. was flooded for long periods during the winter and that the land below 0.4 m +N.A.P. - the major part of the area - was seriously affected by the water during the winter months.

A combination of the characteristics of this landscape, land reclamation and the system of water management brought on an additional problem of excess water originating from the higher peatlands, particularly during the wintermonths. It is likely that the flooding occurred, with the watertable rising to c. 1.0 m +N.A.P. It can be assumed that this occurred repeatedly from the middle of the I5th century onwards. The abandonment of the area became inevitable, possibly by the time the land surface had dropped below 1.0 m +N.A.P. The sea reached the cultivated area near Scheemda only after the site had been abandoned.