Ronde kom

Round enclosure on Eeuwigelaan (street) in Bergen, The Netherlands, 1926, by A. J. Bondavia Archief Alkmaar Commons on flickr.

I have been wondering about the purpose of this really nice rustic fence in a wooded area (there’s another view here). In a much larger version of the photo, you can see barbed wire all around the top rails. The ground inside has either been dug out or worn away.  There are two benches nearby, with more barbed wire fencing behind them. What appears to be a road in the background is actually a canal. (And you can also see that the man standing on the right is wearing wooden shoes.)

It could have been the site of a large tree of special local significance, which then died and was removed. Or the spot of some other removed shrine or monument.  But why not take away the fence and fill the hole after dismantling what was inside?  Then I thought it might have been the small crater itself that was important — perhaps the remains of a WWI shelling in the area.

Today, this street is lined with very large homes.

ADDENDUM:  Nope, wrong all round. 🙂 Please see the very interesting comment below.

5 thoughts on “Ronde kom

  1. This is a circular pond belonging to the 17th century garden layout of Hof te Bergen (the central part of which is located somewhere behind the standing man on the right). Work on the garden started from 1643 onwards, and the Dutch Classicist layout is still visible today. (here’s hoping that linking like this works in comments)
    The pond is not shown on a plan dated 1799, but on the survey map made in 1821 the ‘ronde kom’ is shown as a pond containing water, connected underground by culverts with the canal you see in the background, and a ditch behind the photographer. By the time this photo was taken, water levels in the dunes had probably sunken to levels, leaving the more or less dry pond (‘droge kom’ would be the Dutch term) shown here.
    The photographer is standing at the start of the Eeuwigelaan, where it meets the Komlaan and the Hoflaan. The photo is taken in a southern direction, while the Eeuwigelaan itself runs from east to west. Your ‘other view’ is taken in that direction.

    The barbed wire fence behind the kom is probably meant to indicate that the land behind it was not public property, whereas the road was. The fence itself would be a late 19th century addition, possibly added when the road became the community’s responsibility -safety concerns and aesthetics went hand in hand. I presume the barbed wire on the fence was meant to keep people from leaning on or climbing the fence. Several postcards from the era show that leaning did occur. The fence itself could have been made of cement, resembling wood, which would make it more durable, but also more vulnerable and more difficult to repair when damaged.

    The ronde kom is still there, now surrounded by a more simplified, wooden fence.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, but really I should thank you for inspiring me to look this up. Hof te Bergen is not along my usual stomping grounds, so I have never been there. Looking this info up made me decide I need to go there soon.
    Plus: I was really surprised to see the feature is still there!

    ‘Kom’ does indeed translate best into ‘bowl’, like the ones you’d serve soup in. In Dutch garden history, we identify the ‘wet’ (pond) version, and the ‘droge kom’ (litt. ‘dry bowl’). The latter applies when we refer to a grassy patch where the ground level is deliberately higher around the edges than in the middle -I’m struggling to find the correct English term for this garden feature. The middle part is not deep (otherwise it would quickly start to contain water), and usually the ground level there is flat right up till the slightly higher edges (up to 40 cm, could be higher if the edges are ‘terraced’ in two or three tiers).
    Especially this dry version is often not circular at all, but even the ‘wet’ kom does not have to be (exactly) round.

    Use of the word ‘kom’ in relation to gardens or landscape features does indicate a certain limitation in size: a large circular body of water would not be referred to as a kom, but would be called a pond (vijver), or lake (meer). In the first sentence of my previous comment I referred to this ronde kom as a pond, but that was merely to indicate it was meant to contain water. ‘Ronde kom’ is a perfect name for this feature.

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