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Archaeology and History Sites and Museums in Northern Netherlands

(Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen)

Map of Archaeology and History Sites and Museums in Northern Netherlands

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Archaeology and History Sites in Northern Netherlands

De Hondsrug UNESCO Global Geopark

Neolithic barrow tombs of the Netherlands are located in an area known as the ‘Hondsrug’. Situated in the province of Drenthe this is the only UNESCO certified geopark in the Netherlands. These Neolithic tombs are the oldest known monuments in the Netherlands at over 5,000 years old. The largest barrow, D27, is conveniently located adjacent to a museum devoted to the Funnelbeaker culture: the people responsible for these megalithic marvels.

The 15th century Martini Tower in Groningen, Northern Netherlands.

Martini Tower (Groningen)

The tallest building in the city of Groningen, this 15th century church tower is not only an impressive sight to see but also has a colourful history. Its two predecessors, built in the 13th and 15th centuries, were both destroyed by lightning. The third and final construction stands at around 96.8 m tall and has become a symbol of the city of Groningen. WWII bullet holes are still visible within the tower’s walls.

Top Tours and Activities in Northern Netherlands

Museums in Northern Netherlands

Casemates Museum (Afsluitdijk)

Still accessible by car or public transport, the Casemates Museum is situated on the afsluitdijk: the 32 kilometre long dam which separates the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. This dramatic feature in the landscape was the setting of one of the lesser known battles of WWII, the Battle of the Afsluitdijk. Thanks to the casemates, another term for fortified gun emplacements, this was one the few places where the Blitzkrieg was successfully halted.

De Spitkeet

This small open-air museum in Friesland showcases historic buildings from this region of the northern Netherlands. In doing so, it reflects what life was like between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, particularly for poorer residents. Perhaps its star attraction is the small turf hut, of a kind that would have been used by agricultural labourers as temporary accommodation, as well as the similarly cramped cave-house also used by the very poor in the 19th century.

Ellert and Brammert Open-Air Museum

The Openluchtmuseum Ellert en Brammert is named after two giants who, according to legend, inhabited the Drenthe region. The open-air museum devotes itself to the built heritage of this area; displaying both reconstructions and original, preserved buildings, it takes the visitor from the prehistoric through to the 19th century. These include various houses, a schoolhouse, church, village prison, and a reconstructed ‘hunebed’ or prehistoric dolmen.

It Damshûs

At the open-air museum of It Damshûs in Nij Beets, Friesland, the lives of peat diggers are put centre stage. Focusing attention on the period between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, it incorporates the simple houses that these workers lived in. As well as these domestic residences, the museum also contains a local church moved to the site, as well as several windmills. Boat trips and excursions from the museum are available.

The Hoogeland Open Air Museum

Launched in 1959, the Openluchtmuseum het Hoogeland hosts over 20 buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these stand in their original positions, but others have been brought to the museum from other areas of the province. Among the structures on display are a range of domestic dwellings, shops, and a windmill, helping to give visitors an impression of village life in the Groningen Hoogeland in past centuries.

Hunebed Centre

At the Hunebedcentrum archaeological museum in Drenthe, visitors are taken back in time to the era of prehistory. Located only a short distance from the largest known dolmen (‘hunebed’) in the Netherlands, the Hunebedcentrum focuses on telling the story of the Neolithic people who build these monuments. As well as an interior museum displaying finds from the area, the Hunebedcentrum includes a reconstructed Neolithic village. The museum is inside the De Hondsrug UNESCO Global Geopark.

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About The Author

This guide to the archaeology and history sites of the Netherlands is the principle work of Max Petterson, with contributions from Thomas Dowson and Ethan Doyle White. Having obtained his Masters degree in archaeology from Leiden University, Max is now a certified archaeologist working in the Netherlands with a focus on prehistory. His MA thesis examined the practice of human sacrifice in Iron Age Northern Europe. Read More About Us and Our Backgrounds.