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Integratie van natuurwetenschappelijke en historische bronnen voor de ontginningsgeschiedenis van het zuidoostelijke Westerscheldegebied
Augustyn, B. (1986). Integratie van natuurwetenschappelijke en historische bronnen voor de ontginningsgeschiedenis van het zuidoostelijke Westerscheldegebied, in: van Trierum, M.C. et al. Landschap en bewoning rond de mondingen van Rijn, Maas en Schelde: a contribution to prehistoric, Roman and medieval archaeology. Teksten van lezingen gehouden tijdens het symposium te Rotterdam van 5-6 oktober 1984. Rotterdam papers, 5: pp. 137-146
In: van Trierum, M.C.; Henkes, H.E. (1986). Landschap en bewoning rond de mondingen van Rijn, Maas en Schelde: a contribution to prehistoric, Roman and medieval archaeology. Teksten van lezingen gehouden tijdens het symposium te Rotterdam van 5-6 oktober 1984. Rotterdam papers, 5. Coördinatie Commissie inzake Archeologisch Onderzoek binnen het Ressort Rotterdam: Rotterdam. XI, 216, ill. pp., more
In: Rotterdam papers: Rotterdam, more

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  • Augustyn, B., more

Abstract
    The historical geography of the West Scheldt region, in particular the southeastern part of it bas been studied both by historians and geographers, but there is no consensus between them about the genesis of the landscape which bas been influenced by the presence of the river Scheldt. In this article we try to bring together the different points of view as well as their argumentation, to which new interpretation is added in order to come to an integration of the sources and -in our opinion -to provide an acceptable explanation of the historical geography of that region. There can be made a crude distinction between three regions in the area under consideration, which run more or less parallel to the West Scheldt river. First there is the most southerly area on both sides of the frontier between Belgium and the Netherlands. There is historical evidence that this region was largely covered with peat during the Middle Ages (fig. 1). De moeren, as this area was called in Dutch, were systematically drained from the 12th century on- wards and parceled out by important entrepreneurs from the cities as well as by religious institutions (such as the abbey of St. Baafs in Ghent), to dig out the valuable fuel and to make arable land after- wards. In this part of the region all the peat has been excavated. This was easy to do because of the thinness of the peat layer caused by a higher positition of the underlying pleistocene deposits. To this day this pleistocene sandy soil preserves its typicallinear settlement with an organisation of the land in small strips (Marsch- hufenfluren) (see figs. 2 and 3). Some Belgian geographers in- correctly considered this field pattern as typical of the Flemish sandy soils"(!), denying or neglecting the nearness of the West Scheldt in the formation of the landscape.The second region we studied is the area at present covered with a layer of clay. Contrary to what has sometimes been pointed out, this clay is of rather recent genesis. The Dunkerque transgressions had little influence on these deposits, but the artificial inundations of the later sixteenth century are for the greater part responsible for this important sedimentation.Historical sources prove a very intensive activity of peat digging here during the later Middle Ages. Some misunderstandings of this matter, resulting from palynological research, are probably caused by the fact that the top of the peat layer is mostly missing by peat exploitation or by erosion. Nevertheless, we could calculate that in the parishes Kieldrecht, Verrebroek and Kallo a minimum of 100,000 m J of peat was digged out in the year 1400. If the activity went on with the same intensity every year, about I meter would have been excavated in one century in an area with a surface of about 250 acres. Some geographers, believing in early clay sedimentation, consider peat digging in this region most unlikely. Finally, the last region under consideration is the rather narrow territory near the West Scheldt. Of course the history of the deposits within this region is closely tied to the history of the origin of the West Scheldt itself. Written sources are insufficient to resolve the problem. Pollenanalytical observations on useful samples, in combination with radiocarbon datings led to the conclusion that this branch of the Scheldt has a post-Roman genesis, at the earliest dating from the Dunkerque II transgression (fig. 5 Waarde and Oorderen). In the beginning the tides will have had little influence, as can be shown by the peat which continued to grow in the neighbourhood of the banks of the West and the Lower Scheldt probably until the year 1000. Evidence for this conclusion is provided in the pollenanalyses of Saaftinge and Zandvliet where, after the second Subatlantic fagus maximum -in Zandvliet C14 dated 940 A.D. - the peat kept growing for a certain time (see fig. 5).

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