Some archaeological field observations from Groot Genhout (Limburg, the Netherlands).

Main text in English, with additional summaries in French ( italic) and German ( red text)
Texte principal en anglais, avec des résumés en français supplémentaires (en italique) et l'allemand (texte en rouge)
Haupttext in Englisch, mit zusätzlichen Zusammenfassungen in Französisch (kursiv) und Deutsch (roter Text)

Some finds from field prospections in Groot Genhout (community of Beek The Netherlands)confirm the picture of incipient exploitations of the plateaus in western South Limburg during the High Middle Ages. A concentration of Pingsdorf shards, found in the eastern part of the village, near the hamlet of Het Gebusselke, proves the early date of the exploitation and this partially coincides with the possession of the area named "Printhagen" by the first Lord of Printhagen ,born in 1185.
Besides the medieval shards also shards from the Roman period have been found. A flint hammer stone of Rijckholt flint with blade negatives shows that this area also has been used. during the prehistory,The many finds of historic pottery shards from the broad period of the High- Middle ages till recent also proves the continuous use of this area for agriculture.

Quelques trouvailles de prospections sur un terrain localisé à Groot Genhout ( communauté de Beek, Pays-Bas) confirment l'image d'exploitations amorces des plateaux de l'ouest du Limbourg- Sud pendant le Haut Moyen Age. Une concentration de tessons de typologie Pingsdorf, trouvée dans la partie orientale du village, près du hameau de 'Het Gebusselke', prouve la date de début de l'exploitation, ce qui coïncide partiellement avec la possession de la zone nommée "Printhagen" par le premier seigneur de Printhagen, né en 1185, Outre les tessons médiévaux,  aussi des tessons de l'époque romaine ont été trouvés. Une pierre de silex de Rijckholt, servi comme percuteur  avec des négatifs de lames montre que ce domaine a également été utilisé pendant la préhistoire, Les nombreuses découvertes de tessons de poterie historiques de la grande période des du  Moyen Age jusqu'à récente prouve également l'utilisation continue de ce domaine pour l'agriculture. 

Einige Funde aus Feldbegehungen in Groot Genhout (Gemeinde Beek, Niederlande) bestätigen das Bild einer beginnenden Verwertung der Plateaus in West Süd-Limburg im Hochmittelalter. Eine Konzentration von Pingsdorf Scherben, gefunden im östlichen Teil des Dorfes, in der Nähe der Ortschaft genannt "Gebusselke" erweist sich der frühe Zeitpunkt der Rodungen was teilweise mit dem Besitz der Bereich mit dem Namen "Printhagen" vom ersten Lord der Printhagen, im Jahre 1185 geboren, einstimmt. 
Neben den mittelalterlichen Scherben sind auch  Scherben aus der Römerzeit gefunden. Ein aus Feuerstein hergestellte Hammerstein mit Kling Negative aus  Rijckholt -Feuerstein  zeigt, das Bereich war schon nützlich während der Vorgeschichte, Die vielen Funde von historischen Tonscherben aus dem breiten Zeitraum des Hochmittelalter bis vor kurzem  beweist die kontinuierliche Verwendung von diesem Gebiet für die Landwirtschaft.

The direct reason to undertake a brief inventory study at a location with fieldname "Het Gebusselke" east of the village of Groot - Genhout, (community of Beek, Limburg, the Netherlands) was the accidental discovery of pottery shards on a field at a road named “Hondsgracht”. 
Both shards and  find location were interesting enough to make some prospections, carried out in 2010 and 2011.
The main underlying question was to find out if the shards could give some information about the earliest development of this part of region, especially in relation with the possible predecessor of an early known farm of Printhagen, a post medieval closed square type farm at Groot Genhout.
This report will discuss the finds and its possible relation with both the earliest exploitation of this area and its specific relation with the find location.

The village of Groot Genhout (red balloon) in South Limburg NL

Brief history of Groot Genhout
Groot Genhout,  located at an altitude of + 110- 125 m. N.A.P.,  at  the South-Limburg plateau, which is in fact the remains of a Pleistocene river terrace of the Maas, where a fertile loess cover is overlying the old Pleistocene gravel deposits (see. e.g. Stichting voor Bodemkartering, 1970).
In the whole South Limburg area, the plateaus were exploited for agricultural purposes from the 11th - 13th century, especially because of an increasing population in the existing (late-Merovingian / Carolingian) settlements in the valleys.The Schimmert plateau has been exploited before the Margraten plateau. (Schulte1991; Tol & Schabbink (2004).
Like many other small villages in this region, Groot Genhout originated from a small medieval community in a nearby valley, which is in case most likely the community of Beek, mentioned already  in 1145 / 1152 AD by its  goods that 'are in possession of the deanery Meerssen, and thus belong to the abbey to St.Remigius  Reims' (Surdèl, 1991).
The plateau around  Groot Genhout has been mentioned in 1439 as “Op‘t Holant” (meaning ‘at the highland’), suggesting the name was given from the view from the lower valley, i.c. the community of Beek (Alberigs et al, 1987; Van der Graaf & Renes, 1990; Berkel & Samplonius, 2006).
As the oldest known influence  at Genhout comes from Printhagen, this is a special focus for investigations about the Medieval period. The name "Printhagen" refers to a terrain closed and delimited by hedges, as an an exploited area within the forest and wasteland.

 An archaeological survey of a location at Printhagerstraat  in Klein Genhout  (Paulussen and  Orbons, 2013)  with rather ‘disappointing ‘results  does not  get me from the idea the area of Printhagerstraat and Printhagen  (Van Wijk & Tol, 2008) in both Groot - and Klein- Genhout  are tightly connected and formed a complex with strict boundaries, still recognizable by the names  ending with ‘haag (hedge)’ , like  “Eerdshaag”  and ‘Netelenstruikweg’ (referring to its function, prick bush to keep  animals in or out) and a road named “Veldweg door de Gewande”, meaning “field road  through plowed land, leased from a (main) farm”;  with a large depression in the east, named the Hondsgracht where the investigated locations, labeled  GG1 and GG2 are located.
In the western part, we find a set of five roads, probably indicating a more central function for this area (see the circle in the image below; the black star is the location of GG1, where many pottery shards were noticed). This might be connected with a report from the RCE, where between the farms Bovenste  and Benedenste Frinthagen, somewhere in the pasture indications were found of an earlier building (Mounument nr.: 8767, see reference below the text)

Map  of a part of Groot Genhout with the suggested central part of early occupation (circle) 
and the location of GG1 marked with a black star. Image adapted from  Google maps

The find location: a closer look
The location where the shards were found is an elevation at + 125 m in altitude. The field is covered with loess, but some colluvium has been noticed at the sloping sides of the field.  Pleistocene gravels are almost absent.  The shards have been noticed at the highest elevations of the area; visible in the map below, ranging up to ca + 125 m N.A.P.(data taken from AHN viewer, (adjusted at  min. +100, 0 m/ max 130.0 m).

Map of the location of the fields east of Groot Genhout. Explanation in the text.

The fields are labeled GG1 (red triangle) and GG2 (blue point). In the map above, the relation with former (prehistoric) and present drain is visible, main directions of (natural) drain marked by red arrows. Indeed,  in the current situation  the eastern part of this location “Hoogveld”, a small brook, named ‘Hoogbeeksken’ is flowing down to the Geleenbeek.
GG1  is located at  north side of the road named Hondsgracht, while  GG2 is located adjacent, south - west to GG1, at a field road, named the Valkenbergseweg; this is showing the old, original  name for Valkenburg,  like mentioned  in a document in 1041 as Falchenberch, likely this was referring at the old location of Valkenburg , Oud - Valkenburg (Schurgers, Notten, & Pluymaekers, 1979).

The field GG2 is located near a crossing from Schimmert to Spaubeek and from Valkenburg to the valley of Beek. So the find area is located near an important Medieval crossing (- area) where two main roads came together; Spaubeek also existed by name of Spaltbeche in  ca 1152 as one of the goods falling within the goods of Beek from the abbey of St.Remigius of Reims (Surdèl, 1991). This could also refer to a fortification, that is suspected in the fundaments of the farm St. Jans Geleen
(Schrijnemakers, 1985).
The name of the road next to GG1 is remarkable, as only a small part of ca 140 m in length carries this name, and it is corresponding with a sudden bend in the road,  named “Hondsgracht”, referring to a large, wide depression next to the road. The Hondsgracht has been dug out by people, so is not a natural depression (compare Hondsgracht in Poperinge, Belgium, see ref.)
This particular depression however is located next to an old an excavated drainage named ‘Vloetgraaf’, for draining excessive water from the higher parts of this region (see for this drainage the map of the community of Beek in 1868; Kuyper, 1867). At GG1 we find some sort of beginning of this dig.
In 1848 the location GG1 carried a fieldname “Aan het buschenken” (Historische Atlas,1837-1848).
The main ancient farm buildings in Groot and Klein Genhout  are the Onderste (Benedenste)  & Bovenste Printhagen, two different farms , dating back to respectively 1744 and the early  nineteenth century. But  the oldest name of Printhagen we find in  1185 AD, year of birth of  Heer Willem van Haasdal Heer van Printhagen  ( Genealogieonline. nl  West Europese adel ) and  his son Gerard Heer van Printhagen, born in 1210 in Beek. (see also Peters, 1973).

The finds: Field GG1.
During three field prospections, a total of ca 5 kg shards (912 shards  in total) have been found at location GG1. Indeed, a part of this area is covered with shards, especially the highest part.
From these shards - remarkably enough- the majority consists of body shards; rim - and bottom shards are rare, so it looks like either these have previously been sorted out by others, or they are still elsewhere. This means a big limitation in diagnostic features giving very limited possibilities for further validation, so only the most characteristic artifacts are discussed here. In the best case, fabric type, vessel form, quantity and attributes of pottery shards are listed, but for the reasons described above, this was only possible for a very limited amount of shards. The numbers of shards in the different groups or pottery types, as named below, are only indicative, but give an idea about the ratios between the numbers of finds in the categories.

Roman period?
Some shards (N= 2) are of (regional) Eifelkeramik (white surfaces with black core and many black volcanic inclusions / quartz in the temper), are probably of Roman origin and therefore would be the oldest finds of the field.

Two possible Roman shards. The determination is based on both type of temper , black core and comparative finds of shards  from a roman villa terrain near Voerendaal.

Pingsdorf - Brühl
The majority of the total amount of shards (N= 912)  is dating back before 1500 AD (N= 378 and  41 %/ total).  From this part of the shards dating back before 1500 AD, the majority is the Rhineland – Pingsdorf type (N= 315, and 83% / total before ca 1500 AD). 
From the group of  Pingsdorf shards, only  ten carry diagnostic features for further determination, namely the typical iron oxide painting. Some of these decorated shards are determined and dated by the characteristic iron oxide decoration (i.c. a shard with triangle based semi parallel and irregular stripes)  which can be placed in the first decades of the twelfth century, in  period 6 in the system of Sanke; and  a shard with equally parallel stripes could be placed in period 7 , the second half of the twelfth century, based on the form system of Sanke (Sanke, 2002).
Some rim shards of the Pingsdorf type (N= 4) provided typological determination about the form of the pottery. One could be determined of belonging to narrow necked jar, a rim shard with a beveled edge belongs to a high jug similar to the later proto stoneware type, dated in period 7 of the system of Sanke (Sanke, 2002).

Six decorated shards of Pingsdorf type pottery 

Andenne cf?
Some shards of a yellow colored type pottery  are identified as cf. Andenne pottery type (based on its pale yellow color and less use of temper (N= 9).  Some larger shards in this group are  possibly from cooking vessels (comparative with pottery shards from the Kesselburg (see Rosmanitz, 2006).  As these shards consist only of body shards, no further details can be given.

Four shards of cf. Andenne pottery
Proto- stoneware & early stoneware
 Several other shards are proto – stoneware (N=31), recognizable by its temper which is containing coarse sand and still is visible at the surface. Sometimes the shards are covered with lead glaze at the outside (Renaud, 1976). These shards are from the period 1200- 1280 AD.  Additional finds from the same period, are lead and copper glazed medieval wheel thrown sandy ware, all dated in the (late) 13th century.

Shards of proto stoneware, most of them with expressive  ripples

Other shards are typical for early stoneware and ‘real’ stoneware of the 14th- 16th century, (sometimes still partially) glazed and with many ripples (N=54) 

Decorated shards of  stoneware of Brunssum- Schinveld, from 1280-1325 AD (see description in the  typochronology see   Stoepker,2011 pp 27 ; Heege, 1995)

Glazed stoneware from ca 1400 AD and later

The shards from ca 1500 AD and later (N= 220) consist of stoneware (tiger- marbled, equally glazed), which are the later types of stoneware,,  like Westerwald - (N=3) and Raeren stoneware , up to very recent (e.g. shards of "Keulse pot" ).
The Westerwald type pottery has nice baroque reliefs especially from the 17th century, where this tradition is forming a continuation of pottery from Raeren in Belgium during the late 16th century (Mennicken, 2006). Like for other categories, for this group no indications could be found concerning the typology due to the lack of sufficient numbers of  rim shards/ bottom shards.

Glazed white ware
This is the second group in numbers (N= 260). Most of the time the glaze has dissolved in the soil, so the shards are only white. The rim shards in this group revealed  a possible function of the ware as plates and small vessels. White ware is common from the 16th century when a mid- green glaze was was coated on the white pottery. Some yellow lead glazed fragments found at GG1 can also be placed in this period, or even before ( ca late 13th--14th century).

White colored glazed pottery. Individual pots only could be identified by the different colors of glaze in this group, like brown, green, yellow and brown. This tableware is dating from the 17th till 10th century.

Red colored pottery
This group contains a small number of shards (N= 23), among them some rim shards of plates from the 18th to 19th century.One fragment of a plate is determined as Werra type pottery (typical glazed line decoration) and fits in the period 1575- 1630 AD.

Glass finds from GG1 include four iridized glass fragments.

Four fragments of glass from GG1. The fragment left is
 a part of a drinking jar named 'roemer', probably 15-16 th century

For completeness an image of  five animal bones  or bone fragments (similar type) and one molar of an herbivore from GG1.

For completeness an image  two unidentified iron objects and two iron nails from GG1.

Some special shards from GG1
In this category some shards are highlighted, some of them are unidentified .

Unidentified shard. The shard is yellow - light brown in color and has a course inner and outer surface. A black regular rather thin core  is visible at a transversal cross- cut of the shard., thickness ca 5 mm, The inner surface is coarse with visible temper, while the outside is more smooth in texture. 

Various pottery shards. 1. Red ware with partially black coating, unidentified  2. possible Roman rim shard, 3. 15th century rim shard 4. white body shard with black core, 9 mm in thickness 5. bottom part of a black glazed stoneware jar

Colour -coated Roman pottery sherds  made in white fabric, including one rim sherd, with vertical rim; the sherds are weathered and worn.   

The finds: Field GG2.
At this field  the finds comprise pottery shards (N=45) and one flint hammerstone. The flint hammer stone is of Ryckholt flint and measures  51 mm in length  and 47 mm wideness  and weighs 143 grams.. The hammerstone  has originally served as a blade core, where ten separate blade negatives and one flake removal  are still visible. The length of blade negatives is influenced by  former
(prehistoric) damage to the core, so is not relevant. Their wideness is still visible. Flake wideness of the removals are 19 mm, 9mm, 12mm, 9 mm, 4 mm, 9 mm, 5 mm, 14 mm, 9 mm, 12 mm. The flake removal  measures 17 mm x 20 mm. These dimensions are normal for the Neolithic.
The battered surface indicates a long period of use. No cortex is visible. Blade negatives and flake removal proves it is a hammerstone from the stone age, probably from the broad Neolithic period (Ryckholt flint, corresponding with the Michelsberg Culture and  shiny  patina on the blade removals, but a later date is not excluded). The find location is a south oriented elevation and probably this area was attractive for its wells.

The hammerstone of GG2 was the only prehistoric find. 

Other finds from this field are 45 pottery shards. Find categories are the same as set for the finds of GG1; Pingsdorf (N=12), proto- stoneware (N=1) early stoneware (N=3), stoneware (N=10), white ware (N=6), red colored pottery (N=8), indet or Roman cf. (N=5). 
One rim shard is of Roman - early Medieval  origin cf. the (late) Mayen pottery, regarding its temper and the straight vertical shape of the rim.   
The only decorated Pingsdorf shard, with straight parallel lines fit in  period  7 in the system of Sanke (Sanke, 2002)., corresponding with the second half of the 12th century.
It is thought there is a direct relation between the Pingsdorf shards from GG2 with finds from GG1.

A decorated Pingsdorf shard from GG2

A shard with coarse temper of quartz and black volcanic rock, probably Mayen/ Eifelkeramik from the Roman period
Conclusions and discussion
Though surface finds always must be regarded as out of context finds, both the location and accompanying finds are confirming the historical base of the exploitation of the area in the High Middle Ages in South Limburg. The oldest pottery finds date back to the Roman period. This does not automatically mean Roman occupation at the location. The shards could have been brought up in  the High Middle Ages , where  the Roman finds would  have been imported from elsewhere (but from  the close region!) with  the dung ,brought up to fertilize the land.
The amount of shards at the location GG1 shows at least the continuous function of this part of the field in the past for agricultural purposes.  
 As the field name is (in ca 1840, Grote Historische Provincie Atlas) “Aan het buschenken” (=  at the shrub), a possible  bush or shrub land would have been located further north or west of the field , so not exactly at this field, which is also explained by the addition “aan het”, which means  “nearby”. It was a common use to leave a small piece of woodland  in exploited areas for the use of wood for tools, as for making brooms, the handle of the shovel, etc.
This is in concordance with  the archeological remains in the field, as the main concentration of the oldest shards is located at the highest part of the field, while in the direction north and west shards of a younger date occur at the hill slopes, suggesting  expansion through the years (centuries) rather than erosion (older shards are complete absent in the lower parts). The same situation was noticed at GG2, where the oldest medieval shards (of  Pingsdorf type) also were collected at the highest (eastern) part of the field.
This also implicates the so called ‘Vloetgracht’ has been dug into the south- western direction for a better drain of the highest parts to make a larger part of the area suitable for agriculture. 
The oldest medieval shards, found at the location, especially those of the Pingsdorf type, are dating from  the  broad period between ca  1120 and  1250, which coincides with the period of Willem van Printhagen, born 1185 and his son Gerard van Printhagen, born 1210 in Beek, both connected to the nearby location. of Printhagen.
Theoretically here is the archaeological correlation between the first (part of the)  exploitation of the plateau at Genhout, even suggesting the pottery shards could come from broken kitchenware which once belonged to the first owners of Printhagen mentioned above.
The number of shards at the location, collected in some field prospections, indicates the intensive use of the location GG1 during the high middle ages and after.  This is a contrast with GG2, which is located closer to Groot Genhout , but shows less intensive use. Indeed, the closer into the direction of the Hondsgracht, the numbers of shards are increasing, indicating a possible historical central function of this area.
The corresponding shards indicate the plateau east of Groot Genhout would have been exploited from the beginning of the twelfth century, at least for this specific part of the plateau, which fits into the existing knowledge about the earliest agricultural use of the South Limburg plateaus.
The investigations were carried out in a very limited area, so nothing is really clear about a possible local habitation zone in this eastern part.  It  would be interesting to investigate the relation between the Hondsgracht of Spaubeek and Genhout, separated by the Busselkensweg, (see also  the reference of Geoview) which could have formed some  part of an eastern boundary of the earliest 'settlement' of Printhagen.

Table of pottery finds from GG1 and numbers of shards
(numbers are indicative)
Pottery type                                                                 N

Andenne type cf.
Proto stoneware
31               31
Early stoneware
54               54
220            220                            305
White ware ( glazed)
Red colored pottery

912  whereof stoneware  305 ( 29.9 % of total)

Table of pottery finds from GG2 and numbers of shards
(numbers are indicative)

Andenne type cf.
Proto stoneware
1                    1
Early stoneware
3                    3
10                 10                             14
White ware ( glazed)
Red colored pottery
Indet  + Roman cf.
Total                                                                          45   whereof stoneware 14  (32 % of total)


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Additional references
Grote Historische Provincie atlas 1: 25.000 Limburg 1837 – 1848, ( 1992) publ. Wolters Noordhoff, Groningen (Open data) reference Euregionaal Historisch Centrum Sittard -Geleen, Historic map of Beek
Rijkswaterstaat l;  Algemeen Hoogtebestand Nederland  AHN viewer, AHN1/ AHN2  (Open data) reference and images
Genealogieonline - West-Europese adel; (nobility) Willem van Haasdal / Heer van Printhagen (with kind permission by Pieter) reference about the name Printhagen in the twelfth and early 13th century
RCE Mounument nr.: 8767  (open data) reference
Hondsgracht, Geoview info (open data) surrounding area east boundary of the plateau zone of Genhout
Hondsgracht, Poperinge, Belgium;  comparative names occur in several Medieval locations, p.e. Middeleeuwen 450- 1500  na Christus Poperinge, stad zonder muren article in Dutch