Archaeological evidence shows hunter/gatherer tribes roaming the current Province of North Brabant, where The Plot is located, between about 10.000 years ago and 3.000 years ago. Later, scattered settlements of agricultural societies would sprout up. However, there’s no sign of such settlements in The Plot itself.
In 1910, a gilt silver Roman helmet from 319-323 CE was found in the moors of Deurne about 20km east of The Plot. The helmet is now part of the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden (NL).
The township of Moorsel, just across the sand path to the north of The Plot, probably was erected in the 12th century, when it became a farm of the abbey of Floreffe. The original horseshoe shaped boundaries of the settlement are still recognizable in the landscape, and makes it easy to locate The Plot on historical maps.
A wooded sand wall protected the farmland from drifting sand, coming from the bordering heath land - which included The Plot. This feature is still there, though not as pronounced as it used to be. There’s some speculation that, based on the soil profile, the wall may be from the iron age.
In recorded history, The Plot just once, and only in passing, became part of historical events. In the notorious Summer of the year 1595 a wave of witch trials terrorized the area. At the time, The Plot was indirectly under Spanish rule, and the inquisitorial system that had been authorized by the king of Spain a couple of years before was grossly misused by people, including a local lord.
In an age and area defined by wars, poverty, failed harvests and plagues 38 women and 2 men were accused of witchcraft, within the timespan of only a couple of months. In total 25 women died: 23 by strangulation, which counted as a merciful manner of execution. Immediately after the women were strangled, their corpses were burned at the stake. 15 came from the villages of Lierop and Mierlo. They were tried at the Hoenderboom, a tree near the Grafven (Grave fen), which is on the Strabrechtse heide.
The route from both Lierop and Mierlo to the execution place could very well have led the accused through Moorsel, passing The Plot.
A genealogical search reveals one of my ancestors - through my grandfather’s mother’s side - was an alderman of Lierop at the time of the trials. Anthonis Vlemmincx (1535-1604) is recorded to have property in the village. Aldermen were appointed at the time, and declining the honour was not an option.
Although Anthonis was part of the village’s administration, there’s no mention of him in the witch trials' files. Nevertheless, he must have known what was going on.