2.7 Distorting factors in the Venray region

Two characteristic examples from the core region of Venray emphasize the importance of assessing the distorting factors in regional research. The archaeological importance of the distribution map after all is closely linked to the way it was composed.

In the coversand area, probably from the Iron Age onwards, a mixed agrarian system prevailed, with agriculture on the 'plaggen soil'. The limited fertility of the coversand requires permanent fertilization of the fields. On the one hand there were 'wastelands', dominated by forest, heath, marsh and pools, used to graze animals (in particular sheep). The wastelands also provided the litter for the animal sheds and the heath was regularly cut to provide enough litter. In this way the topsoil disappeared to the sheep-folds. When the forest was cut back too much, or the heath burned or cut in excess, large sand drifts were likely to occur. On the other hand there was the plaggen soil ('es'), fields that were created through centuries of fertilization with the mixture of litter and animal manure from the sheep-folds. These are mainly located near the old habitation centres on the higher grounds between the brook valleys. The thickness of the field layer, the plaggen soil, is in this region 1m at most. Many archaeological finds have disappeared beneath the es-cover and result in blank spots on our distribution maps.

Fig. 31 Recent geological and anthropogenic factors influencing the visibility of archaeogical remains in the core region of Venray; plaggen soils (orange), peat (purple) and drift sands (dark yellow) [Plaggen soil, peat and drift sands]
less detail

Archaeology was practised sporadically in the area around Venray at the end of the last and beginning of this century. Well-known names in this respect are the notary from Roermond, G.Ch.H. Guillon, and the collector from Venlo, L.D. Keus. In the late 1950s Driessens, the well-known amateur archaeologist, began to explore large areas in Noord-Limburg and Oost-Brabant. As well as the size of his collection, the degree of documentation is impressive. In a highly professional manner he recorded all relevant data, numbered the finds and accurately indicated position and size of the sites on maps. Driessens still lived in Venray in the 1960s and surveyed the surrounding area, together with Van Ass, Kruysen and Storms. Many of these finds have been stored in the depot of the Historical and Archaeological Museum in Venray. Currently, only a small group of amateur archaeologists from Oirlo is active. The activities of the amateur archaeologists in Venray are characterized by repeated returns to known sites. In particular, emphasis was on collecting as many artefacts as possible, not on an all-encompassing mapping of human habitation traces. Small areas were walked very often (many sites), other areas have never been visited (blank spots).

[All sites from Venray]
Fig. 32 All findspots in the core region of Venray as recorded by the Meuse Valley Project, illustrating the activity areas of the amateur archaeologists


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Last updated: Wed Feb 25 1998