Detailed location of the gallows


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It is most likely that the gallows of Bolsward stood at the Galgerak, which was the name of the first part of the Witmarsumer vaart, (canal to Witmarsum) west of the Blauwpoort (the ‘Blue’ city gate).

Gildemacher, Waternamen, p. 437. See the advertisement in the Leeuwarder Courant of 25 dec. 1776: '11 pm greide aan het Galgerak'. The name already appears, in the combination 'In de Merninge op de hoeck van 't Galgerek', in some deeds from the period 1659-1671: Van der Meer, 'Lijsten', p. 98. Since there must have been a space development south of the canal in the sixteenth century, it lies at hand to locate the gallows at its north side, on - or adjacent to the cadastral parcel B286.

The reliable 16th century chronicler Worp van Thabor makes mention of a wheel in Dokkum on which the body of the ‘hoofdeling’ (chieftain) Sicke Bolta was placed in 1492 after he had been taken and had been executed near the monastery of Bergum by troops from Groningen because he was accused of having committed treason. Since many people there felt that he had not been guilty, his corpse was publicly taken from the wheel and buried at the churchyard: Worp IV, 193. It can be assumed that the wheel was placed beside the (supposed) exposition gallows of Dokkum. The exact spot in unknown, possibly at the eastside of the town, at the Dokkumer Diep.

The Galgefenne, about a kilometer south east of Franeker, is situated the south of the point where the road from Franeker to Miedum and Tjum makes a sharp bend. It is possible to identify it with the cadastral parcel Franeker D464, because of its recording in the so-called Floreencohier from 1700 (Franeker FC27). Compare its description in an advertisement in the Leeuwarder Courant of 1 febr.1797: the ‘Galgefenne, 7 pm (acres) greidland’. The double workers cottage that stood north of this piece of pasture-land (cad. D467-468), west of the T-junction, where the roads to Tjum and Miedum do separate, was called the Galgepôle in the 20th century. Probably this was the place of the gallows. The Galgefenne was in 1510 owned by Eedwer, the daughter of the Franeker ‘hoofdeling’ (chieftain) Sicke Sjaerda, whose family long time ruled both the town of Franeker and the district of Franekeradeel: Friese Testamenten, nr. 77, p. 149.

The guide fossils to this gallows are the toponyms Galgepolle and Galge-eiland, that are named quite often in deeds of transfer from the 17th and 18the centuries - Proclamatieboeken 1685, 1721, 1734, 1790. They point at a piece of land, surrounded by water, between the Kerkstraat (Church street) and the Oude Weide, at a spot which in the 16th century was situated just outside the semidetached housing, according to the ca. 1560 city plan by Jacob van Deventer. The chronicle of the Tegenwoordige Staat, p. 338, says that the town extension here (Oude Weide) was only begun with in 1614.

Near Leeuwarden two gallows can be located. Well-known is the one southwest of the city, at the Franeker or Harlinger vaart (canal to Franeker and Harlingen), at the section which was called the Galgediep. It can be pinpointed with the help of the atlas of Schotanus-Halma from 1718. The close by lying Galgefenne is mentioned in several sources from the 16 century (even in Latin as Pascua Patibuli!), a.o. in Friese Testamenten, nr. 63, p.122, en Register van den Aanbreng I, pp. 5, 13, 24, 30, 32, 33, 37. This Galgefenne had a size of 28 koegras: Oudfriese Oorkonden IV, nr. 187 (1509). The gallows, however, must already have been there in the 15th century (1464): Oudfriesche Oorkonden I, nr. 174. The map of Leeuwarden by Jacob van Deventer (ca. 1560) indicates its location. The triangular gibbet with its accompanying wheel is also depicted on a somewhat older map by Jacob Heeres from 1553: Schroor, ‘Leeuwarden tussen middeleeuwen en nieuwe tijd’, p. 97-99. See also Faber, ‘Leeuwarder galgen’.

Near Leeuwarden two gallows can be located. There must have been a second gallows at the other side of the town, at the Vliet-stream running to the east. The Liber beneficiorum from 1580 (HCL, Singels, nr. 269, with courtesy to Onno Hellinga) makes mention of it ‘Olt Gerecht’ op het Vliet, ‘nae die zijde nae Huijsum toe’ (f. 10). In the same source, at p. 22, a certain Foppe Gauckez is recorded who was dwelling ‘aen teerste draeijhoudt boven tGerecht’. As ‘gerecht’ (compare the German ‘Hochgericht’, place of trial and execution), was synonymous with gallows, this probably was the old exposition gallows of the city, which at the time did not have a function anymore. According to the above mentioned description it probably stood at the south side of the Vliet, near the first swinging foot bridge (draaihout), where the parallel road branches off in the direction of Huizum.

In a report on a bloody battle in the beginning of 1496 between the Frisian forces from the so-called Vetkoper party and a small army from the ‘Schieringer’ faction, that had been reinforced with a detachment of German mercenaries, the chronicler Worp van Thabor writes that the latter in the end successfully took up a square formation in the meadows at the west side of the lake of Sloten near ‘Slootmanne galge’ (the gallows of the men of Sloten): Worp van Thabor IV, p. 237. It is likely that this gallows was not situated at short distance of the town – since there had to be space for fighting a battle – but further to the north at the spot where the Sloter vaart (the canal of Sloten) runs into the lake, for instance on or beside the cadastral parcel Balk A50.

The oldest record on the gallows of Sneek is to be found in the description of the chantry lands of St. Barbara in 1543: ‘... twee koeganck, gelegen buyten dyk by de galge, metten noerdwesten aen den dyck’ (ca. 2 ha land outside the dike near the gallows, with its north western edge bordering on the dike): Beneficiaalboeken I, p. 270b. In the Floreencohier of Sneek, dating from 1700, mention is made of two large adjacent parcels of Galgeland which indeed bordered on the dike. One of them, the south western piece, belonged to a private owner, the other one, which was 15 pm (acres) large, nr. FC55, made part of the so-called Geestelijke Staatslanden, a fund of ecclesiastical lands, into which the abovementioned St. Barbara parcel most likely had been merged. These findings do suggest that the gallows has stood at the foot of the dike in this parcel (cad. Sneek A233), near its border with the other parcel (A236).

The 17th century Frisian historian Chr. Schotanus reports in his Beschryvinge, p. 263, that the land on the foreland of the dike between Staveren and Scharl still is called the Galge-venne. Probably this was an exposition gallows. It is possible that in the 16th century another gallows had been constructed north of the town, between the northern harbour and the new castle, according to a story in the chronicle of Jancko Douwama in which he describes how the execution of three sentenced mercenaries went wrong in Staveren in 1522, after which the companions of these soldiers killed the hangman: ‘siet, de [omstaande] knechten vielen oeuer de hanckman, en sloghen hem ther doet’: Jancko Douwama, p. 351-353.

According to an advertisement in the Leeuwarder Courant of 2 July 1796, the Galgeland near IJlst comprised, '6 pm (acres) greide (pasture land)'. Compare a similar announcement in the Leeuwarder Courant of 12 June 1863. This piece of land is to be identified in the annex to the last will of the hoofdeling (chieftain) Sytse Harincxma van IJlst from 1542: 'Item ick selfs in der Ilst ben bruycken ses pondematen, hiettende dat Galgelant': Tresoar, Archief Tjaardastate, inv.nr. 421 (T313). Of all parcels with a size of 6 pm (acres) in the vicinity of the town centre, Floreencohier nr. 171 (cad. IJlst B87), along the Geeuw, just north of the semidetached housing, seems the most eligible.

On 14 June 1523 the Burgundian-Habsburg force of the lord of Wassenaar conquered the town of Workum and killed the Guelders soldiers who had fled up the tower, apart from nine men who were set apart to be hanged at the south side of Workum near the sluice: ‘… wtgesecht negen, dye sy lieten hangen opt suyd van Woerckum by den zyl’: Worp van Thabor V, p. 311. Presumably, this was not at a gallows specially constructed for the occasion. The land outside the dike near the entrance to the Workum harbour, where in a later century the Workumer Nieuwland would be embanked, was the perfect spot for a permanent exposition gallows that was visible for anyone.

In the land book Leuwarderadeels aenbrengh of 1540 a piece of land is registered under the village territory of Wirdum with the specification ‘... in Westerlant daer Baerderadeels galge stond (in the westerly land where the gallows of Baerderadeel stood)’ (Mol, 95). One is inclined to locate it near the border between Wirdum and the district of Baarderadeel, lying at the other (westerly) side of the border stream the Swette. The toponymical tradition for Baarderadeel however, points to a spot south of Baarderadeel’s central village of Jorwerd, at the south side of the main road from Jorwerd to Baard. It bears the name of Galgelân (cad. Jorwerd A401 and A402), covering two small parcels. In the Floreencohier of 1858 the westerly part (A402) is named Galgeland as well. Both pieces together were also known as the Galgelâns Sâne (the seven acres of the Gallow land). See Oostra, Toponymy fan Jorwert, p. 209, who provides additional information from deeds.

On the well-known map of the Slachtedijk by Pieter Idserts Portier from ca. 1750 (Tresoar), half way at the dike section between Herbajum and its starting or ending point at the seaside of Sexbierum, where the dike slightly bends, a toponym is written at its south side, called the Hoek van Galgekamp (the angle or ‘hook’). This location perfectly fits with the entries for the Galle Kamp in the cadastre of 1832 (Sexbierum C671) and the Galgekamp in the Floreencohier of 1700: Veldman, Fjildnammen út Barradiels ferline, p. 58, nr. 548.

The oldest information is given by witnesses about the dredging of the canal the Gaestmer Diep from 1508: ‘ by den burch ende omtrent die galge (near the castle and the gallows)’: Oudfriesche Oorkonden II, pp. 220-221. From diverse statements it can be gathered that the castle (= Tjaardastate) stood at the spot where the Galgesloot / Galgesleat, coming from the south, was at right angles with the abovementioned canal. Probably, the gallows was constructed at this T-junction at the south side of the Gaestmer Diep. The path from here to the centre of the village bears the name of Galgeheech (Gallows High). Somewhere in between, in the canal itself then, there must have been the Galghetenye (a sort of fishing contraption), around 1540: Friese Testamenten, nr. 157, p. 330). See also Moerman, Nederlandse plaatsnamen, p. 84, and Wynterp, ‘Toponimen fan de Trynwâlden’, p. 72.

Southwest of Ferwerd, nearby the main road from Ferwerd via the monastery of Foswerd to Waaxens (Kloosterdijk), lies the Galge Morgen (cad. Ferwerd B505). In 1832 and 1700 (Ferwerd Floreencohier, nr. 22) this parcel was owned by the parish church of Ferwerd. Furthermore, in the neighbourhood of Genum, a Galgekamp is recorded in 1581; its place however, can not be indicated: Register van Geestelijke Opkomsten, p. 65: ‘Noch hefft de patroon een klein kampke, genoempt de Galgekamp’.

East of the villages of Hemelum and Bakhuizen, behind the Witte Berg, and northwest of Rijs, in the 18th and 19th centuries a pool was situated, called Galgepoel, according to an entry in the Proclamatieboek of the district of Hemelumer Oldeferd M2, dated at 21 Oct. 1702; compare Floreencohier 1798, nr. 132. In the former source, the entry is about the selling of arable (‘Zaadland’) on the newly reclaimed ‘Nieuwe land neffens (alongside) de Galgepoel’. This new land can safely be identified – looking at its rectangular parcelling – with the so-called Hemelumer Venen east of the main road from Oude Mirdum via Rijs to Hemelum. If so, then the gallows must have stood not far from the road, on the border between the districts of Hemelumer Oldeferd and Gaasterland.

In 1550, the name Galgefenne at Kollum appears in the last will of the ‘hoofdeling’ (chieftain) Hessel Boytiema: Friese Testamenten, nr. 211, p. 448: a piece of 3 pm (acres) land in the Galgefenne, without further positioning. Andreae, Kollumerland, p. 20, writes that he cannot appoint it with accuracy. The Ommelander chronicler Johan Rengers van ten Post knows that the gallows of Kollumerland had stood near Kollum, not far from the ‘… Casteleinsz huesz dar nu Sippe Meckama woent anno 1583, dat noch de heet, und sede mij Wittie Douwes van Anium anno 1583, ter presentie des predicants dat he had dar noch koppen an sien hangen’ (that is, near the castle where nowadays Sippe Meckama lives, which is still called the Galge venne; of which place Wittie Douwes of Anium anno 1583 declared in presence of the vicar, that he had seen hung some heads): Feith, Johan Rengers van Ten Post I, p. 108. The gallows had been erected near the fortification built by the city of Groningen in 1467-1468 at the place of an already existing defendable stone house, north from the village centre, west of the Riet, where later Nieuw-Meckamastate arose.

In the oldest criminal roll (Sententieboek) of the Court of Friesland it is noted for the year 1516 that a certain Renick Wythie son of Wirdum, otherwise known as Potmergen, had confessed on 7 Oct. 'buten of ijsser pijne or bande' (i.e. not being under torture) that he had assisted another thief in stealing 20 cows in the district of it Bildt the previous year. He was sentenced to be strangled and hung on a ‘half gallows’ (probably a construction of the knee-type) at Dijcxhoerne near Beetgumermolen. It could be that was an occasional gallows, but it seems more likely that the thief has been tied up to the district gibbet of Menaldumadeel, that was placed outside the dike near Beetgumermolen, which bordered on the recently embanked area of it Bildt that by then did not yet have its own gallows: Sannes, History of the Bildt I, 63.

The 16th century chronicler Johan Rengers van ten Post informs his readers that in the year 1414 [read: 1514] at the westside [read: eastside] of the river Paesens the gallows of the district stood at Eesmersijl '... ander noerder dijck vpt wterdijck', that is at the foreland outside the north dike.

The Galgeberg (Gallow hill) of Ooststellingwerf can be pinpointed with the help of the atlases of Schotanus-Halma (1718) and Eekhof in the north of the village territory of Donkerbroek, more or less at the border with Haule, beside the road that ran via the Breeberg redoubt to Waskemeer and Duurswold, very close to the district border with Opsterland. The spot is easy to figure out on the cadastral map.

The gallows of Smallingerland must have been placed on the Galgstik (toponyms collection Fryske Akademy), on the heathland of Nijega, very close to the border with Tytsjerksteradiel, on a plot that is known on the cadastral map as Oudega B811-812. As such, the gallows stood clearly visible just west of the main road between Dokkum and Smalle Ee, which already in the 15 century connected the districts in the East of Friesland.

For Tietjerksteradeel, two gallows are known: one was in the east of the district, right on the lake of Burgum, on the eastern shore. The other can be found in the west, on the border between the villages Tytsjerk and Suwâld. The former is mentioned in a document from 1508 on the sale of a farm with an associated property in the hamlet of Joere that belonged to the village of Eastermar. The good is described as 'the farm and the farmyard with its moat and extending patch of land’, plus 6 pm (acres) of grazing land, ‘lying near the gallows’: Groot Placaat en Charterboek van Vriesland I, p. 726. These six acres have to be situated west of the road between Jistrum and Eastermar, at the end of a series stripes of land that are stretched out in westerly direction from the Joere hamlet. When we follow this route, we arrive at the conical headland of the Bollumer Ryd that jut out in the lake.

For Tietjerksteradeel, two gallows are known: one was in the east of the district, right on the lake of Burgum, on the eastern shore. The other gallows stood on the Galgewier, on the cad. parcel Hardegarijp A667. According to a precadastral property reconstruction, the mound on which the gallows was erected, was situated under Tytsjerk, just north of the village border with Suwâld, on the land of Algera state, named after the main yeoman inhabitant of Tytsjerk - Floreencohier 19, Stemcohier C29. It probably served only the district quarter of Tytjerk with its neighbour villages.

In Oostdongeradeel, between Niawier and Oosternijkerk, the Galgesloot drains water to the Paesens, the border stream between Oost- and Westdongeradeel: Gildemacher, Waternamen; compare Eekhof. The name of this Gallow ditch cannot refer to the gallows of Oostdongeradeel, since that one had been constructed at Ezumerzijl (see the entry s.v. Oostdongeradeel). The toponym suggests that the gallows of Westdongeradeel stood on the territory of the district, west of the river Paesens, exactly opposite the mouth of the Galgesloot.

According to data in the toponyms collection of the Fryske Akademy, theGalgeveld (Gallows ' field) of Weststellingwerf was situated in the village of Wolvega, about 1000 m southeast of the church, along the main road running from Steenwijk to Heerenveen. In 1832 it was a woodland plot of 5 ha. (cad. parcel Wolvega A355), upon which was a park was laid out, called the Nieuwe Aanleg, adjacent to the cemetery in the north.

In Wûnseradiel the name Galgelân has come down in the archives for a piece of meadow next to a dwelling mound called the Wûnser Weeren: Politiek, ‘Kerkhof Kimswerd’, p. 13. Long time, its exact location was unknown, but recently it was found out that this Gallow land was situated next to or near to the main road that connected Wûns with Makkum and the villages south of Makkum.

The Galgeland under Offingawier is easy to locate on a plot of pasture bordering the Kruiswater, at the west side of the lake of Sneek (Sneker Meer), where the Houkesloot canal, coming from Sneek, crosses the Modderige Geeuw and turns into the Jouster Vaart (canal running to Joure): Santema, ' By mar and poel ', p. 59-61.

From the gallows of Ameland an image, albeit a very small one, is shown on the map of the island from 1731 by Pieter de la Rive: Overdiep, Toelichting kaart Ameland, p. 11. Also field names like Galgedobbe and the Galch refer to it: see Oud, Woadeboek fan ut Amelands, nrs. 190-192. Overdiep reports that it was a simple construction with a beam on two posts, built on the tidal marsh, east of the embankment of the Hollumer miede, at the south side of the sandy road between Hollum and Ballum.

The gallows of Terschelling is mentioned for the first time in a register of ecclesiastical property from ca. 1560. The information points at a piece of land lying near the gallows ('liggende by de galge '), which belonged to the parish of Midsland and the vicarage of Vijfpoorten: Nationaal Archief The Hague, Archive of Zuid-Holland, Dispersed collections, rr. 49/50. The gallows had been erected on the Galgeduin, that according to the toponyms collection of the Fryske Akademy lie in the north western corner of Midsland.

The village of Burum formed a separate secular jurisdiction, apart from the district of Kollumerland, because the whole of its territory belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Jerusalem, alias Gerkesklooster. The judge therefore was always appointed by the abbot, in the same way as in the village of Visvliet, east of the Lauwers, that made part of the province of Groningen and entirely belonged to the monastery as well. In both villages gallows had been constructed, as a sign that the high jurisdiction was exercised by the abbot. According to Andreae, Kollumerland II, p. 75, the gallows of Burum stood at the canal that connected the village centre with the river Lauwers, because a piece of land here was called ‘dye galgefenne’ in 1558. Unfortunately the exact spot could yet not be identified.