The archaeological site of Epe-Niersen in the central Netherlands consists of a 6km long linear arrangement of barrows dating to the 3rd and 2nd Millennium BC. In total no less than 50 burial mounds of this alignment are still preserved within the modern-day landscape. At the start of the 20th century the curator of prehistory at the National Museum of Antiquities in the Netherlands investigated several of these mounds and discovered peculiar burials and grave gifts in them. The research at the time, however, focussed solely on the burial mounds and gave little attention to the surroundings of these monuments. What lies beyond these monuments? Can we find evidence of activities contemporaneous with the construction of these mounds?


For the magnetometer survey we used the Scintrex SM4G-Special Caesium magnetometer in a duo-sensor and total field configuration, which we carried ca. 30 cm above the uneven ground at a sampling rate of 25 x 50 cm. The application of this magnetometer with a sensitivity of ±10 pT in the uncompensated total field configuration allowed us the maximum utilisation of the magnetic anomalies. The total Earth’s magnetic field at Epe-Nierson in June 2016 was ca 49100.00 ±10 nT. The sandy and partly acid soils in the Netherlands constitute unfavourable geoarchaeological conditions for magnetometer prospecting.


Considering this, the survey yielded surprisingly good results. Displaying the data in the narrow range of ±1 nT has the effect that even a tiny variation in sensor height above ground, unavoidable on an uneven surface, shows up as a “mistake” of the surveyor. Moreover the area is densely crisscrossed by pathways from all time periods. Nonetheless we were able to clearly trace the archaeological features in the ground.

Epe Niersen