Stinsen en het elite-netwerk in de middeleeuwse bewoningsgeschiedenis van Sneek en haar ommeland


  • A. Jager


This paper deals with fortified stonehouses (stinsen) in Sneek and in the adjacent clay area to the north of the town.

In the 10th century settlement on the salt marshes along the southern edge of Middelzee started. In the 11th century those salt marshes were protected by a dike along the Middelzee. Most of the land was in use by then, with the exception of a few badly drained areas. During the 12th century reclamation of the peaty areas south of Sneek started to create problems because large amounts of water had to be drained off towards the Middelzee. By constructing the Hemdijk and the Groene Dijk, and a series of smaller dikes connecting these two with the dike along the edge of the Middelzee, a series of small polders, each with its own water drainage, were formed. From the end of the 12th century onwards the southern part of the Middelzee silted up rapidly. The newly formed salt marshes were endiked, and brought into cultivation as soon as possible. Most of this new land was owned by private individuals, probably largely belonging to the local nobility. Noblemen in this area were also farmers. They distinguished themselves from the ordinary farmers a.o. by building small motte castles, in the form of fortified stonehouses on mounds. Several of these mounds are still visible, although the stonehouses have disappeared, and are known as stinswieren. The oldest stonehouses date from around 1150 AD, and are supposed to have been used largely as places of refuge. Gradually these were replaced by towerhouses with a well defined living function, In both cases daily life took place in a farmhouse next to the tower. The fortified stonehouses on stinnswieren are considered to be an expression of seigniorial rights, in the absence of central authority.

In 1990 the remains of a largely levelled stinswier were excavated near Bons. The mound was surrounded by an almost square wooden stockade and a square moat. Of the stonehouse no traces were left. On the basis of pottery found during the excavation the construction of this stins can be dated between 1150 and 1250 AD. The building was knocked down in the 15th century.

During the urbanization of Sneek, shortly after the reclamation of land in the surrounding area, stonehouses were also built in the town. These stonehouses differed from the ones in the rural areas in the absence of a mound and a farm. Three stinsen are known to have existed in Sneek, the Roedenburg, the Johansmastins and the Gruytersmastins. The Johansmastins is only known from a single reference in a charter of 1442. The other two stonehouses were fortified but had different purposes, The Roedenburg was probably built by its owner on a plot within Sneek bordering on his property north of the town, By building this stonehouse seigniorial rights were claimed on the owner's property inside Sneek, The Gruytersmastins is known from a bird's-eye view of Sneek from 1616. Archaeological excavations in 1984-85 revealed that the construction of the stins can be dated to the first half of the 14th century. In 1399 it was owned by the merchant Aylof die Gruyter, whose wife belonged to the Frisian nobility.

The importance of the Roedenburg and the Gruytersmastins as fortifications within the town was demonstrated in 1399-1400. In this period the owners of both stonehouses sided with the Count of Holland in his struggle for the lordship of Friesland. When the Count withdrew from Friesland the Roedenburg was destroyed by the citizens of Sneek, probably because of the claims of its owner. The Gruytersmastins was spared, however, probably because the owner had no seigniorial claims, and because the stins was integrated in the economy of the town.