Prehistoric Era

Hunter-gatherers would find clear, running water, good hunting grounds and fertile soil in ‘Kempen~Broek’.  On the higher lying continental dunes, traces of encampments have been found.

The open tundra landscape was home to large grazers, like caribous. The climate warmed up and the open landscape evolved to mixed pine-birch forests. The large herbivores disappeared and were replaced by moose, deer, wild boars and aurochs.

Due to a severe climate change, the humidity of the region increased and the lower valleys became peat lands. Creek valleys disappeared and swampland expanded. Humans had to completely change their ways of living and food gathering.

With the rise of agriculture, mankind now directly influenced the environment. Stone axes were used to create open areas. In the Bronze Age, cattle-breeding increased. Where woods were cut down, meadows appeared, which in turn gave rise to the first heathland. During the Iron Age, population number climbed, fields grew larger and the forests smaller. In the lower areas, expansion of the agricultural areas was hindered by the peat lands.

When they had exhausted the soil, the humans moved on. New fields were outlined by ditches and hedgerows were planted. Settlements were not permanent, they were a sort of “roaming farmsteads” that could move around. Near the settlements common burial sites were found, also called urnfields. In ‘Boshoverheide’, one of the largest urnfields in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg was found.