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In Mazowsze, the most characteristic homestead type of the Dutch settlement is a single-building homestead. This type of arrangement housed all main elements of a homestead, such as: a home, a cowshed with a stable (also a henhouse), and a barn. This common multi-element house was based on the Frisian halen haus design and was introduced by the first colonists. The layout and the functions of such a house were closely related to the terrain on which the farms were to operate. In the face of recurring periodic floods, such arrangement was necessary to accommodate people and animals, as well as their food supplies under one roof[1].

However, as a result of departure from tradition and a long-term detachment from the era of the first colonists, new detached elements of the homestead appeared. These elements included a barn, coach house, pigpen, cellar and other smaller buildings that were detached from the residential part.

The plots on which the homesteads were built were usually square or rectangular with the longer side facing the river.

The front of a house faced the river and the road that ran along the waterway and the residential part was located on the up-stream side of the homestead. It only happened sporadically that the gable wall of a house faced the road or the river. This type of arrangement was associated with the dispersed-type settlement or homesteads situated on the outskirts of a settlement.

The homesteads were located in the proximity of the village road and were connected to it with access roads (called trytwa in the Puszcza Kampinoska area), which were frequently located on man-made rises.

In the case of multi-building homesteads built in the 19th century, the houses faced the river with their ridges; whereas, the auxiliary farm buildings (most often barns in the Mazowsze region) with the gable wall, on the downstream side of the homestead. The farmyard was most commonly located on the field side of the homestead, which facilitated transport and access to the field.

Homesteads were situated on hillocks or natural rises. In areas that were devoid of natural rises, settlers used the soil excavated from the drainage canals and ponds (called terp) to elevate the terrain. On occasion, these man-made hillocks were of considerable size; for example, the still-existing hillock in the village of Sady near Płock is 3-4 m high, around 20 m wide, and around 60 m long. In some cases the house was built before the hillock; if this was the case, the house was erected on high stilts and the area underneath was elevated at later time. Yet another type of arrangement can be seen in homestead no. 21 in Nowy Troszyn, where two hillocks were built as part of one homestead. Such a situation took place when a farmer was not able to provide enough man power, equipment, and material to erect only one hillock. To solve the problem he would complete the project in two stages.

Usually the flood-banks and hillocks under the settlers' houses were relatively small, and they were frequently damaged by spring waters. Therefore, in order to protect the plain against the inflow of ice floes from the Vistula and to prevent the buildings from being damaged by the fast current, the settlers planted willows and poplars on the balks and in the vicinity of homesteads. The greatest number of trees was planted next to the gable wall of a house on the side that faced the upstream direction. The planted vegetation included fruit trees (orchard) and decorative bushes (a vegetable garden) arranged in weaved willow fences. Only later, with time, did the colonists build higher embankments, which were more efficient in protecting homesteads from being damaged and in resisting the surging river waters. Nonetheless, the construction of the low (instead of higher ones initially) flood-banks, which were connected to the slightly higher hillocks, had its reasons and was not the result of a lack of technical skills of the settlers. The Dutch were not afraid of water, and a flood was not considered a disaster providing it only flooded the lower floor or a cellar. Facing such a situation, the Dutch moved livestock, supplies and forage to the loft and let the water flood into the empty spaces.

On the one hand, the water caused a lot of damage, but on the other hand it was of great benefit. The water deposited fertile silt which would collect on weaved fences, trees, and bushes; as a result, the land had a high yield. At the same time, the water flushed the manure out of the cowsheds. The above was facilitated by the proper arrangement of the homestead: the homestead faced the upstream direction with its residential part or was perpendicular to the river's current. Therefore, the flooding water, moving with the direction of the current, entered the residential part first and only later the farm section of the homestead. Hence, the entire waste matter was washed out from the homestead and collected on the weaved willow fences that were located on the fields stretched between willows and poplars.

[1] W. Marchlewski, Przyczynek do dziejów osadnictwa Olęderskiego w środkowym biegu Wisły w XIX-XX w. (do 1945 r.), Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej (hereafter: KHKM), vol. XXXVI, 1988, no 3, p. 510.

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