Unique find in Hoorn reveals the name of one of the first inhabitants of Keern


The copper seal stamp has a pointed oval stamping surface and a small carrying eye at the back. A cog ship is depicted centrally on the stamp surface with the text S x DEDRIG VAN STAVRE x around the edge. The S stands for Sigillum, the Latin name for seal. Dedrig is a personal name that appears in Frisian sources. The name is probably derived from Diederik (Diederich), which in turn equals Dirk.

The seal stamp just after it was excavated.© Archive photo RVP Media

A pointed oval seal is typical of the Middle Ages. They are roughly dated between 1200 and 1400. In this case the object comes from a ground layer that can be dated to around 1300 based on other finds. The seal will be slightly older.


Pointed oval stamps are rare. Only two finds are known from North Holland. Most were found with the detector in Friesland. They were apparently more in use in Friesland than in other areas and the origin of Dedrig from Stavoren fits in with this picture.

Also read: Unique finds near Keern: When Hoorn emerged around 1275, there was also a second settlement

Within the group of pointed oval seal stamps, the stamp of Dedrig van Stavoren is a striking appearance. Almost all stamps of this form were from the clergy, a spiritual institution (monastery) or nobility. The central image is usually a person or saint. There are almost no stamps from citizens. They had few official documents to put their seal on. So it is a very rare object.

Excavation at the Keern.

Excavation at the Keern.© Archive photo Mediahuis

Hanseatic League

Dedrig van Stavoren was undoubtedly active as a trader who transported his goods by ship. Interesting in this context is the similarity of his stamp with the city seal of Stavoren. A cog ship is also depicted on it. Stavoren (often written as Staveren or Stavere) was an important trading place from the eleventh century and was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1285.

The place was a junction in various trade routes over water and land. Skippers were therefore active internationally and sailed to the Baltic Sea area and England, among other places. In sources relating to trade with those areas we come across many traders who were referred to as ‘van Stavere’. Dedrig has not yet been traced in historical sources.

Also read: High expectations of archaeological research at Keern in Hoorn


Dedrig apparently settled at the Keern near Hoorn. This is striking because his house was not located in the immediate vicinity of a harbour. This could be related to the demise of the town of Dampten in the Zuiderzee sometime in the thirteenth century. Perhaps Dedrig lived there as a trader and was forced to move inland to a safe place. A hamlet arose at the Keern at the end of the thirteenth century. At the same time, a new trading town was established and was named Hoorn.

Excavation at the Keern.

Excavation at the Keern.© Archive photo RVP Media

Because of this background, the seal stamp is important for the image of thirteenth-century West Friesland. Historically, little is known about this. Only after 1300 are the first inhabitants of Hoorn mentioned by name and written sources are available. Before that time, there were apparently already people here who were important enough to use a seal stamp and who were active in sea trade.


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