Antonius Schonhovius Batavius, canon of Bruges, wrote of these hunebeden in 1537 as the remains of what the Roman senator and historian Tacitus had dubbed The Pillars of Hercules of Vico Roelden (village of Rolde). A map of 1642 showed the hunebedden as 'Reuzenstien' (giant stones) and a source published in 1688 called them 'Steenbergh'. An excavation of D17 in 1706 recovered a 'blue pot' decorated with glittering gold stripes.
Hunebed D18 Rolde lies 200 metres south of D17, behind the cemetery adjacent to Sint-Jacobskerk in Rolde.
Much better preserved than its twin, D18 originally had seven capstones supported by 14 sidestones, as well as a pair of entrance stones—these last largely buried in the sand so that only their tops are showing. D18 is a particularly neat and tidy hunebed, almost complete, hardly surprising since it has experienced restoration on numerous occasions. Two of the capstones are actually now held in place by steel pins.
An archetypical hunebed, enhanced by the oak tree that arched gracefully over it until 1984, D18 has been illustrated in drawings and paintings many times over the years. But, because it was disturbing the hunebed and threatening its cohesion, this tree had to be removed.
Hunebed D17 Rolde lies 200 metres north of its twin (D18) in a rectangular park just east of Sint-Jacobskerk in Rolde and behind its graveyard. You can access the hunebed from the village's main street (Hoofdstraat) by following Kerkbrink, which winds past the cemetery.
Along the northern boundary of the park, which nowadays sports a number of mature oak trees, is a walking route which follows the former Assen-Stadskanaal railway line that closed in 1939. D17 surrounds a historic old oak tree, hollow inside after long ago being struck by lightning, but still alive though now supported by steel rods.
D17 originally consisted of 16 sidestones, two entrance stones and 8 capstones, though all but one of the latter have now collapsed into the crypt, and one of them is split in half. Although two sidestones of the entranceway remain, there is no evidence that this hunebed ever possessed a circle of kerbstones.