Het Messchenveld (Dr.): ook paleobotanisch, archeologisch en geologisch een vijfsterren-locatie


  • H. Woldring
  • Y. Boekema
  • P. Cleveringa
  • H. de Wolf
  • J. Schokker
  • J.N. Bottema-Mac Gillavry


The Messchenveld area (Assen, Drenthe): an outstanding area for palaeo-botany, archaeology and geology. The pollen record of a sand-covered bog located in the central part of the Drenthe Plateau is discussed. Peat formation started ca. 10.000 BP in the depression, which had become waterlogged, possibly after sand was blown out right down to the level of the underlying till in the preceding Late Dryas. Overgrowth with terrestrials soon followed a short period of aquatic vegetation in the Preboreal. In the late Preboreal pine-hazel woodland spread, with pines growing on or along the edge of the bog. During the Atlantic, deciduous forests expanded; however, pines still occurred locally, at least up till the mid-Atlantic. The Messchenveld has been archaeologically proven a hive of activity in the Mesolithic. All the same, human traces were poorly recorded in the pollen diagram, with only nettle as a possible witness of human impact. A lengthy hiatus occurred around the Atlantic-Subboreal transition, recording no evidence of the impact of early farming. Of the late Holocene, only (part of) the Subboreal, and the late- and postmedieval period are represented. From the beginning of the late Middle Ages heather predominated the landscape. The area was largely devoid of trees, especially in the 12th and 13th centuries, a time of exponential population growth. Among the crops cultivated was hemp, the fibres of which were used for making rope and canvas. Sod manuring and animal herding eventually led to the destruction of the vegetation, which was followed by sand drifts. The peat deposit was covered by ca. 80 cm of sand, which prevented further peat growth, but kept a natural deposit and its pollen record intact up to the present-day.