Dear Visitor,

History of the area

The area around the Waal and Rhine rivers has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The many floods have made its soil very fertile. During the Roman era this part of the Netherlands was already densely populated. The rivers were and still are excellent shipping routes for trade. In the third century the climate deteriorated and many people went to live elsewhere. Only at around the year 1000, population was on the rise again. The villages of Waardenburg and Neerijnen are already mentioned in manuscripts of this era. Gradually, dikes were built in the area. At the close of the Middle Ages all of the necessary embankments had been completed.

The region around Waardenburg, roughly following the banks of the rivers Rhine and Waal and the adjoining plains, is called ‘Betuwe’ and belongs to the province of Gelderland. Until 1978 Waardenburg was an independent municipality, like many other villages in the Betuwe. The village is situated right next to the A2 motorway and has the Utrecht-Den Bosch railway running through it. During the Second World War the Waardenburg train station was severely damaged by bombing. Afterwards, it was restored in its entirety, but unfortunately demolished thereafter, in 1973.

In 1978 Waardenburg became part of the municipality of Neerijnen. The municipialities of Haaften, Est en Opijn, Varik and Ophemert were also added to Neerijnen. As a result, the municipality of Neerijnen now consist of the ten small villages Hellouw, Haaften, Tuil, Waardenburg, Neerijnen, Opijnen, Est, Heessels, Varik and Ophemert, as well as the three hamlets Snelleveld, Hattelaar, and partly, Zennewijnen. The result of these governmental changes is that the municipality of Neerijnen now counts as much as 96 national monuments and 148 municipal monuments.

The municipality of Neerijnen is quite surrounded by the Waal river, the largest tributary of the Rhine river. This part of the Betuwe is great for walking and cycling on meandering dykes, which offer sweeping views of the river, its floodplains and surrounding farmlands. In summer you can cross the river by bicycle or by foot on small ferries. The forests on the neighbouring estates offer a more intimate atmosphere.

After the severe floodings at the close of 1993 and at the beginning of 1995, the Waalbanddijk (the name of the dyke along which this museum is located) needed to be reinforced and heightened. In the first drawings for the reinforcement, the dyke was projected further north to allow the river more space. As a result, the dyke warehouse, the mill and part of the forest would disappear. Due to many protests, a solution was found which not only took into account the safety of the population, but also the natural surroundings, landscape and cultural history of the area.

The mill of Waardenburg is one of eight hexagonal windmills built in the Netherlands. The mill dates back to the 18th century and was restored between 1965 and 1975. When the adjacent Waalbanddijk was raised, the mill was raised to be at the same level as the dyke.

The dyke warehouse mentioned above was built to store materials such as twigs, poles and stones, in order to deal with emergencies due to flooding. It was commissioned by Mr. Jan Hendrik van Berghem shortly after 1871. The new dyke warehouse was built reusing materials originating from the old warehouse, which had been demolished in 1841. The dyke warehouse, located at 12 Waalbanddijk, was fully restored in 1994 and made suitable for expositions in 1997. The dyke ware-house is now a national monument.

As of June 30 2012, the dyke warehouse, owned by the District Waterboard Rivierenland, is used by Dudley’s Heritage Foundation as a small museum. This museum, Museum De Oersprong, is open every Sunday from April to October, from 11:00 until 17:00.

The museum’s permanent exhibition includes a small but impressive collection of minerals, fossilised wood, other fossils such as ammonites, nautiluses, fish and trilobites, as well as many objects of the Pleistocene period originating from the North Sea. The museum is run entirely by volunteers, all experts in this field, and all part of Dudley’s Heritage Foundation.

After a visit to our museum, why not go on one of the many walks or bike rides the surrounding area has to offer? From early April to October onwards, one can wander along the Waal river and enjoy the area’s unspoilt flora and fauna. There are signposted, circular walks, varying in length from 20 to 42 kilometres, which take you around the area. The routes lead you through peaceful nature reserves, to Loevestein Castle in the village of Poederoijnen and to the village of Slijs-Ewijk – all at your own pace. Of course it is also possible to make shorter walks, by walking only part of a route. If, however, you prefer long hikes, you are in for a real treat: the five walks combined offer as much as 150 kilometres of footpaths along the Waal river.

Regionaal Bureau voor Toerisme

Maps on Rivierenland – Walking along the Waal.
Only in Dutch, German and English.

The nature reserve Rijswaard is located in between Neerijnen and Waardenburg. The reserve houses a tremendous diversity of wild plants, which makes it one of the most valuable floodplains of the Netherlands. Many of these plants are part of the ‘River valley flora,’ a group of approximately 250 plant species characteristic of the river basins of the Netherlands. Unfortunately this area is off-limits to humans, but luckily the Waaldijk offers great views of this unique part of the Netherlands.

The floodplains, rugged grasslands and forests around the estates of Waardenburg and Neerijnen accommodate many birds: the gadwall, tufted duck, buzzard and greylag goose. In winter one can spot lots of geese in the area. And sometimes even the great egret and ibis pass by. When it is time for the birds to breed, birds such as the great crested grebe, shoveler, water rail and the corncrake (quite a rare bird) nest on the rugged grasslands. Deer will come and graze on the meadows at dusk, but will seek shelter in the woods during the day, where green woodpeckers and bats will keep them company.

So in order to reduce the risk of flooding, Rijkswaterstaat the department responsible for the main-tenance of waterways, removes reeds and forests from the Rijswaard nature reserve. Keeping the floodplain relatively clear will help to improve the flow of the river Waal at high tides. In doing so, Rijkswaterstaat takes into account the rare plants and animals living in the area, as well as the area’s culturalhistorical significance. This way all of the unique elements that give this piece of land its characteristic appearance will be preserved for the future.

We hope to welcome you soon in our Natural History museum De Oersprong

Museum De Oersprong, is open from April to October every Sunday,

from 11:00 until 17:00

We are located at 12 Waalbandijk, 4181 AN Waardenburg.

The board of Dudley’s Heritage Foundation.

Bing maps with aerial view of the surroundings Waalbandijk

Many thanks to Anna Visser translation agency, for this English translation.

Wordpress weblog: Vertaalbureau Anna Visser

When using the Google translation service, grammatical mistakes are inevitable.

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Last Modified: zaterdag 06 april 2019