|Middeleeuwse dwangburchten van West-Friesland en Alkmaar|
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The medieval castles of West-Frisia and Alkmaar
|Author's reconstruction of Nuwendoorn Castle.
(Drawing: Ben Dijkhuis).
To guard the dam between Alkmaar and Oudorp, Florens founded Middelburg Castle. Nieuwburg Castle was founded next to Vronermeer ('Lake of Vronen'), resulting in a complete control of the important exit- and providing route. Together with Torenburg, an older castle, they formed a very strong trio.
After the murder of Florens V in the year 1296, many inhabitants of his territory rebelled, incited by the bishop of Utrecht, William of Mechelen. West Frisians besieged the Muiden Castle from which they retreated by plundering. They conquered Wijdenes Castle, which was completely destroyed. Storming Medemblik Castle failed.
It is not sure if Middelburg Castle and Nieuwburg Castle were involved in this rebellion. But there are indications that Nieuwburg Castle was. When the Westfrisian were finally defeated, the treaty of peace was concluded in Torenburg Castle and not in Nieuwburg Castle, because the latter should have been heavily damaged during the rebellion.
Nuwendoorn Castle was not finished yet and this was the reason that it was not defensible. It was attacked from the West and very seriously damaged in the end.
The successors of Florens V ordered the rebuilding of Nuwendoorn Castle. In the year 1321, when William III (of Hennegau) was Count of Holland, he trusted the castle with John of Pollanen. But John had to promise to return the castellanship to the Count again after his death. Pollanen was compensated for the costs of practising his function, including the expenses of the war-effort, while the Count himself would deliver assistance and necessary arms.
John of Pollanen, a nobleman and businessman, was also the owner of the manor Breda and the castle 'Oud Haerlem' near the town of Heemskerk. His successors in the castellanship of Nuwendoorn Castle were Boudijn John Barthoudz. (1343) and John of Egmond (1344).
Most facts concerning the castle are known from notes in accounts of the Count, but these notes stopped mentioning Nuwendoorn Castle in 1366/1367. As early as 1392 the fortress had disappeared from history! It is not clear why. There is a theory which says that damage was caused by a flood. Indeed, archeological investigations reveal the traces of a flood during the period 1350-1370. Salination of the land stopped receiving cash from yields of agriculture. Probably there was no finance left to rebuild the castle, leading to decay and disappearance from the land.
Not only the castle disappeared, even all knowledge about its site was lost as well. For historians there were fewer clues, which led to even more speculations.
|An artist's fantasy of Nuwendoorn Castle, mentioned as 't Slodt Eenigenburg'
By Andries Schoemaker (1660-1735)
(The Hague, Royal Library, KB78H43, 81).
|The excavated foundations of Nuwendoorn Castle.||Nuwendoorn Castle's ground-scheme. Some remarkable features are an enigmatic half-round additon, a small privy-tower (toilet), an entry-tower with a draw-bridge and the remains of a well.|
Ploughing his fields in 1948, farmer Biersteker's labour was obstructed by debris and large bricks (kloostermoppen). His fields were situated between the villages of Eenigenburg and Krabbendam and was a part of a bigger piece of land, which was known by the local people as "Nieuwe Deuren". A name of which the origin was an enigma, till two amateur archeologics, Lutjeharms and Westra concluded that the bricks Biersteker found seemed to be the remnants of a wall. They got permission to dig further on and finally excavated an enormous piece of a foundation. The fortress of Florens V, which had been missing for five centuries was finally discovered!
The discovery explained the origin of the name "Nieuw Deuren" which seemed to be a degeneration of the name of 'Nuwendoren' or 'Niwedueren'!
Just 12 years later in 1960 the Dutch State's Service of Archeological Investigations (Rijksdienst voor Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek) started an extensive study, which was led by the castle-archeologist prof. J.G.N. Renaud. The complete foundations of the castle were excavated, revealing a square ground-scheme, surrounded by a castle-moat.
The castle's setup existed of two parts: a secondary front-castle and a main-castle with a residential part with 1.2 meter thick walls. The main-castle's dimensions measured about 32x32 meters, while it had a heavy main-tower (donjon). This tower covered an area of approx. 11x11 meters with walls of 2.5 meters thick. At the back of the former inner castle-square, debris of the remnants of a residential part were found, in which some apartments could be recognized. Other remarkable features which became visible after the excavation: an enigmatic half-round additon, a small privy-tower (toilet), an entry-tower with a draw-bridge and the remains of a well.
|The Nuwendoorn Castle's entrance. At the background, the castle's well at the former castle-yard.
(Photo: Ben Dijkhuis).
The front-castle with tiny towers in the corner had an entry of its own. At this location several remnants of a wooden bridge were found. But the former castle-moat revealed more important objects like red and blue-grey pottery, a light green drinking glass, a cooking-pot, several wooden objects, a fish-trap, which was made with willow-twigs and even a piece of the castle itself: a chimney-top!
In 1961 a committee was founded to investigate the final function of the castle's terrain. Finally it was decided to preserve the foundations. This consolidation was finished in 1967. Many participants co-operated to realize these plans. More work was applied to consolidate the foundations of the front-castle, redigging the castle-moat and building up the castle's well. At last, in 1980 all the plans had been realized.
The context of the terrain and ruins were dramatically changed after a renewal or restauration of the castle in 2009-2011. The vegetation was removed thoroughly. Some walls of the ruin were slightly elevated. The worse of all in this is a steel sight-seeing tower, being a replacement of the original donjon or main tower, which dominates the area now.
|The contempory state of the Nuwendoorn Castle, during restauration. The steel sight-seeing tower dominates the area dramatically.
(Photo: Jantine Leeflang).
(Lit. 3, D. Kransberg, H. Mils)
(Lit. 5, J.W. Groesbeek)
(Lit. 7a, E.H.P. Cordfunke)
(Lit. 7c, H. Janse)
(Lit. 8, J. Belonje)
(Lit. 11, P.E. van Rijen)
(Lit. 12, R.P. de Graaf)
(Lit. 13, F. Diederik)
(Lit. 16a, R.P. de Graaf)
(Lit. 17, D.P. van Wigheren)
(Lit. 18, D. Breebaart)
(Lit. 19, P. Noordeloos)
(Lit. 29, M. Minnema)
(Lit. 30, author not known)
(Lit. 31, R. den Boer)
(Lit. 34, J. de Vries)