Sunday 17 October 2021

Royal catacombs yield bones of 200 rich Delft residents

The Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. Photo: Sven Wildschut via Flikr

Work on the extension to the royal burial chamber in the catacombs of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft has uncovered some 200 skeletons.

After months of digging, archaeologists have now reached a depth of 1.5 metres. ‘We have now found 150 people in ‘proper’ graves and the bones of four to five people buried together in various charnel repositories,’ archaeologist Michael Bot told local broadcaster Omroep West.

City archaeologist Steven Jongma said the find added ‘a new chapter to the history of the church. ‘We are discovering big differences between the medieval bones we found earlier on the Markt (the square on which the church stands) and the people we’re finding in the church,’ he said.

The Markt was a medieval burying ground for the poor whereas the church accommodated the rich burghers of Delft.

Outside the church people were buried a lot closer together and in cheap coffins, Jongma said. Their physical condition was also notably worse and they died younger than their well-heeled counterparts.

Archive and DNA research will have to show who the people in the graves are. ‘That will make it extra interesting because then we will be able to link a profession and a life story to the city,’ Jongma said.

The royal burial chamber is currently home to 43 members of the Dutch royal family dating back to William of Orange in the 16th century. The extension will cost some €4m and is being paid for by the state.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.