The Bastionder museum
|Established||April 1, 2009|
|Architect||Marlène van Gessel and Marc van Roosmalen|
Bastionder is a very small museum and information center built into Bastion 'Oranje' in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.
Bastion Oranje can be considered to be the first exhibit of the Bastionder. The Dutch Republic conquered 's-Hertogenbosch in 1629, and would make it one of its key fortresses. When it reviewed the defense of 's-Hertogenbosch it found that the distance between Bastion 'Vught' and Bastion 'Baselaar' was too big to be defended only by the late fourteenth century tower located on a corner of the city wall. In 1634 the Republic therefore built Bastion 'Oranje'.
At the time Bastion Oranje was a polygonal bastion much like the others, except that its name denoted the new masters of the city. The walls were two meters thick, and the bastion was built to mount heavy artillery. A rare feature was that it contained the old medieval tower on the inside. This was not strange, because it happened more often when an old tower was in place. It is rare in surviving examples. Later the bastion would mount a windmill, a very common feature of city walls. In the early nineteenth century an oil mill and floor factory with 'steam engine of 65 hp' was located on the bastion.
From 1874 the bastion was no longer needed as defensive work. It could not simply be demolished because the city walls also functioned as a dyke, as they still do today. In 1885 the municipality bought the grounds of Bastion Oranje, and the factory was demolished. In 1888 about 2,000 m3 of earth was removed from the bastion in order to create the small park that still exists. The park has a nice view on the nature reserve Bossche Broek and its trees have grown big. Because of its location close to the city center, it still attracts many visitors.
Over the years a number of old cannon were placed in the park. One of these guns was the unique gun 'Stuerghewalt' or 'Boze Griet' mounted on two small stones. Most of these guns are now mounted on neat gun-carriages. It all seems to represent the old defensive position, but has little to do with that. Originally the bastion was covered by an earth wall with gun emplacements that was removed in 1888. Furthermore: guns were not left to corrode on the walls, but were only placed there when the enemy approached. The comparable nearby Bastion 'Sint Antonie' shows the upper structure and gun emplacements that have been removed from Bastion Oranje.
The Bastionder started as a project aimed at showing the tower and a part of the city wall in an underground visitor center called Bastionder. The tower in question had been lowered and filled up with sand c. 1590, so guns could be placed on top of it. It was known that after construction of Bastion Oranje, the old tower had been left in place, because old maps showed this situation. Preliminary excavations indeed found the old tower at the corner of the city walls relatively unscathed. A stair and three gun ports were also found in the tower. One of these gun ports had a saw profile on the outside, so bullets could not ricochet inwards. It has been re-opened in order to show a late medieval gun port to the visitors.
Bastionder is a concatenation of 'Bastion' and 'Onder' (Dutch for under). The project excavated part of the underground area between the bastion's walls and the old city wall, and covered it by a weathering steel and concrete roof with some windows. One of the requirements for the Bastionder was that it should not disturb the existing park too much. This was met by a roof that surfaces from the ground no more than necessary to permit a visitors' entrance. The roof is furthermore covered with grass planted with crocuses, making it appear as part of the park.
The construction created a substantial space for visitors to see the old city wall and tower. Some information panels and a video presentation about the history of fortress 's-Hertogenbosch were added, creating a small information center with some facilities. It is a convenient stop and or starting point for city walks, expeditions to the Bossche Broek, and for the very popular boat trips on the Binnendieze. What makes the Bastionder a museum is that, apart from the buildings themselves, it exhibits exactly one artifact, the unique wrought iron cannon 'Stuerghewalt' also known as 'Boze Griet'.
The long cannon 'Stuerghewalt' or 'Boze Griet', which is parked inside the Bastionder is a big wrought iron cannon. As such it is unique to the Netherlands and very rare on the European scale. Its construction is betrayed by the many-sided shape of the barrel, which was caused by making it from wrought iron instead of casting it. It dates from 1511-1512, when cast guns were only made from bronze. The first cast iron cannon of Europe was cast in 1543.
Stuerghewalt is the longest cannon of all the medieval and early modern cannon that have been preserved in Europe. It also happens to be the only wrought iron cannon that has been preserved in the Netherlands. On the contrary there are probably more than a thousand old cast-iron cannons lying around in the Netherlands. Bronze cannon probably number a few dozen.
The name of the cannon deserves some attention. It is called 'Stuerghewalt', or in modern Dutch spelling 'Stoer geweld', meaning something like 'rough violence'. Another name is 'Boze Griet', meaning something like 'furious girl'. "Griet' or girl was a common component of a gun's name at the time, cf. the Dulle Griet or mad 'mad wive' from Gent. The naming of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting Dull Gret is no coincidence.
- "Geschiedenis van Bastion Oranje" (in Nederlands). Erfgoed 's-Hertogenbosch. 2020-03-23.
- "'s-Hertogenbosch : Bastion Oranje" (in Nederlands). Bossche Encyclopedie. 2020-03-23.
- "Bastionder" (in Nederlands). Architectuur NL. 2020-03-24.
- Ffoulkes, Charles (1937). The Gun-Founders of England. Cambridge University press. p. 73.
- Smit, Kees. Stuerghewalt en Jan Fick van Zeghen, een uitzonderlijk kanon en zijn maker [Stuerghewalt and Jan Fick van Zeghen, a special gun and its maker] (PDF). Bossche Bladen (in Nederlands). Stadsarchief ’s-Hertogenbosch.