Home Turf: an interdisciplinary exploration of the long-term development, use and reclamation of raised bogs in the Netherlands

Beek, R. van; Maas, G.J.; Berg, E. van den


Raised bogs are popular research subjects in various scientific disciplines such as palaeobotany, climatology, archaeology and historical geography. However, interdisciplinary studies using a long-term cultural perspective are rare. This paper aims to make a contribution in that field by exploring the long-term development of raised bogs in the Netherlands, with a main focus on man-land relations. Central are the peatlands in the Pleistocene areas of the country that — with regard to peat inception, development, human use and exploitation — show patterns that are probably similar to those in larger parts of the North-west European Plain. Three spatial research levels are used. The first level offers a concise summary of the current knowledge level on bog development in the Netherlands and adjacent areas. The second level centres on the eastern Dutch region of Twente, and especially attempts to reconstruct the former maximum peat cover. In this region, as in most other parts of the Netherlands, hardly any peat remnants have survived to the present day. The third level consists of two detailed case-studies of smaller areas in Twente. This study shows that raised bogs, soon after they started developing, became intrinsic parts of settlement territories and were used in spatially and temporally varying ways. The assessment and integration of different types of data allows a more detailed and reliable reconstruction and analysis of long-term habitation patterns and man-land relations. The interdisciplinary approach also demonstrates which research deficits exist, allows new interdisciplinary questions to be asked and shows which methods may be applied in future studies.