Refuge mounds lie like bumps in the landscape. Sometimes quite a big bump, as in the Snouk Hurgronje road at Gapinge. Or sometimes less obvious ones, such as at the Kelder road between Meliskerke and Grijpskerke.
It used to be pretty tricky for both humans and animals to live in Zeeland. The floods were a constant threat. They eventually took over the highest parts of levees and creek ridges. In the 11th century people began to create artificial hills of 1 to 2 meters in height, to live on. These provided at least some protection against the high water level. These residential heights were sometimes less spacious, only suitable for a single farmhouse, and sometimes they offered space for multiple dwellings. In the 12th and 13th centuries, some of these residential mounds were taken to greater heights of 5 to 12 meters in the mountains. This was not necessarily for providing a better flood protection, but moreso there was a strategical goal as well. Wooden and then later stone defensive towers were built on them. At the foot of these mountains there was the so-called Nederhof castle, where people lived and worked under normal circumstances. The whole property was surrounded by a moat. In the 14th century the castle in the mountains lost its military significance. This role was taken over by the stone castle.
Many of the original mountain castles have disappeared in subsequent centuries. Fortunately, there are a few dozens left. They are marked by the designated refuge mounds, which in fact is a somewhat misleading name given to these former residences. Most refuge mounds are now found even on Walcheren and Bevelanden. Some can still be found on Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen and Zeeland Flanders. The Zeeland Landscape Foundation manages refuge mounds in Walcheren (9), South Beveland (2) and Zeeland West Flanders (1). Most of the refuge mounts are grazed to increase the plant growth.
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