Archaeologists say this site has a solar calendar used to identify important events, including festivals and harvest days. Image Source: Municipality of Tiel Netherlands' Stonehenge Netherlands Stonehenge

Netherlands’ Stonehenge: An Ancient Solar Calendar in Tiel

Discoveries of ancient sites have always fascinated archaeologists and historians, shedding light on civilizations of the past. In a recent excavation in the Netherlands, archaeologists have unearthed a remarkable religious site dating back almost 4,000 years. This extraordinary site includes a tumulus, often referred to as the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands,” which served as a solar calendar. In this article, we will delve into the details of this captivating discovery, exploring its significance and shedding light on the mysteries of the past.

Unveiling the Netherlands’ Stonehenge

The excavation took place in a small village located approximately 50 kilometers southeast of Utrecht. The site was originally an open-air bunker, and in 2017, archaeologists commenced their exploration. The findings, made public recently, have astonished both experts and the general public alike.

During the excavations, scientists analyzed the clay composition and color variations, leading them to identify three tumuli in close proximity to the banks of the Waal River. The primary tumulus, with a diameter of around 20 meters, possessed passages carefully aligned to function as a solar calendar. This ingenious calendar system allowed people to mark significant moments, such as festivals and harvest days, by observing the sun’s position within the tumulus.

A Marvelous Archaeological Discovery

An artist's rendering of the 4,000-year-old sanctuary at Tiel.  Netherlands' Stonehenge - Netherlands Stonehenge
An artist’s rendering of the 4,000-year-old sanctuary at Tiel. Image Source: Municipality of Tiel

The discovery of this ancient religious shrine has generated immense excitement, as it represents the first of its kind found in the Netherlands. The town of Tiel, where the site was discovered, expressing their awe at the marvelous archaeological findings. The remains of approximately 60 individuals, spanning men, women, and children, were found within the tumulus.

A Reminiscent Landscape in Netherlands’ Stonehenge

The sight of the primary tumulus has drawn comparisons to the famous Stonehenge monument in England. The resemblance is particularly striking due to the observation of the same solar phenomenon in both locations. National broadcaster NOS reported the similarity, evoking the enigmatic aura surrounding Stonehenge.

A Tale of Burial Grounds

In addition to the primary tumulus, two smaller tumuli were also unearthed during the excavation. Archaeologists believe that these three tumuli served as burial grounds for nearly 800 years. Each burial mound holds its own secrets, inviting further exploration and investigation into the lives and customs of the past.

An Enigmatic Bead from Afar

One of the most intriguing discoveries made by the archaeologists was a single glass bead found within a tomb. Upon analysis, it was determined that the bead originated from Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. This revelation underscores the vast extent of ancient trade routes and the interconnectedness of cultures. The bead’s remarkable journey of approximately 5,000 kilometers over 4,000 years ago demonstrates the far-reaching exchanges that took place during that era.

Unveiling Ancient Craftsmanship of Netherlands’ Stonehenge

Stijn Arnoldussen, a professor at the University of Groningen, highlighted the significance of the glass bead discovery. Since glass was not produced locally during that time, the bead must have been a highly valued and rare item. Its presence in the region surrounding Tiel, also known as Betuwe, offers a glimpse into the cultural exchanges and trade networks that existed during that period.

Arnoldussen speculates that the bead may have been circulating for many years before finally finding its resting place in Tiel. This observation sheds light on the long history of material exchange and suggests that the bead might have passed through numerous hands and locations before arriving in the Netherlands.


The unearthing of the Netherlands’ Stonehenge has unearthed a wealth of information about the religious practices and cultural interconnectedness of the past. This remarkable site, with its solar calendar and burial grounds, offers a glimpse into the lives and traditions of our ancestors. The discovery of the Mesopotamian glass bead within one of the tumuli adds an intriguing layer to the narrative, revealing the extensive trade networks that thrived in ancient times. As archaeologists continue to unravel the mysteries of this site, we await further insights into our shared human history.

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