1537-Wekerom Arnhem Oosterbeek Renkum
The Neder-Veluwe in 1731; GA 0409 1537

In the public Gelder Archives I find this beautiful  map from 1632 (Gelders Archief) of the region nordwest of Arnhem, in the center of The Netherlands. This region is called the Neder – Veluwe, meaning the Lower Veluwe.

Nicolaes Van Geelkercken made this map in 1632 and I love his maps. But I can’t find his original in the public archives. Luckily enough, it was copied twice: first in 1701 by van Gelder, and then in 1731 by B. Elshoff and the latter is the one I find in the Archives. That second copy therefore dates from 99 years later than the original, but apparently not much had changed in 100 years. Would that really be the case? That means you are born and die in the same world. That you teach your children your knowledge of life, and that they pass on the same knowledge to their children because that knowledge remains useful. This implies such a different world from that in which we now live, in which the world of my youth no longer exists.

Comparison with the situation now produces many differences, but I like the similarities better. What has remained the same for almost 400 years in our fully planned and perfectly organised country The Netherlands where not a square meter remains useless for centuries?

Most places on the map still exist. One place has grown (Arnhem) and others are just as small as then: Ginkel, Mossel, West Reems (now Nieuw Reemst), Reems. Deelen has changed into an airbase and Terlet into a glider field; Deelen was a main German airbase in the Second World War. Other places such as Rincom, Helsum, Wekerom, Oosterbeek have grown into bigger villages or small towns. Others have disappeared: Harten was a village with a chapel, and now no more than a farm. Grunsvoort, Mariendael, Valkenhuyse are estates or castles of which only Dooreweerdt still exists. Wolfhees has been moved, the location of the village is still recognizable but nothing is left (yes, a work of art made of wire mesh).

The road pattern is still recognizable, only the main roads of that time are now walking paths. The roads ran between the villages and the associated moors and forests. Main roads run between the villages and trading centers, of course, and preferably by the shortest route. A detour for a few kilometers makes no difference to a car, but every hundred meters on foot is too much unnecessary loss of time.

What really has changed, is the ownership of the country, indicated on the map by different colours. In those days, wealthy noble families owned immense estates, but those days are over. Natural areas are now managed by foundations or trust funds and although a few estates remain, it is not that some noble families just divide the country among them.

Location of the map:

The Netherlands on AHN.

Beautiful book: Atlas van historische verdedigingswerken