Central Netherlands is full with floodplains that have been reclaimed on the Rhine, Waal, Maas or IJssel. Some of these floodplaines have been depicted on beautiful old maps. Today I look at the floodplains Oudewaard, Leede and Mars. It is situated on the southbank of the Rhine opposite Rhenen. They have been claimed from the river little by little, using various names that reflects the origin, but nowadays the whole polder is called the Mars.

The Oudewaard and Leede in 1552

This is one of the oldest maps of a floodplain in the Rhine.

Historical map of the Rhine and some meadows and floodplains.
GA 0124: 4926-1552-31

The North is above. The Rhine flows from right to left. In the top left edge you can see Rhenen. The bottom part of the map is the winter dyke. In the Netherlands the rivers are being lined with two dykes. Close to the river is the low summer dyke. Further away there is a much stronger and higher winter dyke. The floodplains in between overflow in the winter.

The Leede castle is depicted at the left edge in the middle (where the paper is cut off)

1554 The Oudeweerd an Eckseweerd

This is more or less the same area as the map from 1552. But the castle is nowhere to be seen.

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The Leede and the Mars in 1610

This map from 1610 depicts the complete floodplain 60 years later. The map is upside down: the North is below. The maps from 1552 and 1554 are just the left part near the castle.

Map of The Leede and the Mars in 1610
GA 0124 Hof van Gelderland map 5040-1610-2-0002

At the bottom of the map, on the north bank of the Rhine, you can see the city of Rhenen. In the upper right corner the church of Lienden is drawn and so is the church of Kesteren in the upper right corner; they still exist. The Leede castle in the polder has disappeared. The village Verhuijsen on the right close to the Rhine has disapperared in a high flood. Locals still hear the church bell ringing midnight at full moon.

In the bottom right corner of the polder you can see two sluices. The right one is called the Verhuysen Sluice, the left one the Modern Sluice. They still exist (in a modern version).

The Leede and the Mars in 1610

Another map of the same polder in 1610, north below. It is the same area as the map from 1610 above. The most beautiful things on this map are the two sluices at the bottom right edge. The Leede castle is in the middle of the map.

GA 0124 Hof van Gelre en Zutphen kaart 5040-1610-2-0001


In 1650 exact the same map has been copied again. But this one is easier to read and interpret. On top the Leede and Oudewaard, the Mars is closer to the Rhine (and younger).

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Another map of the same polder is this one from 1779.

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On this map from 1809 the North is at the top. The map only depicts the southern part: only the Leede and Oudewaard. The Leede castle is in the center of the map, on the right of the division dyke.

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The location of the maps: