The historic landscape of the former Middelzee (November 23, 2012)
After the closure of the International Wadden Sea Symposium (November, 21 - 23, Leeuwarden, NL) Professor Gilles de Lange guided an excursion by coach trough the historic landscape of the former Middelzee. The Middelzee was the funnel shaped estuary of the River Boorne, opening up to the Wadden Sea in the North. In westward direction there was another connection to the Wadden Sea via the Marne. The town of Leeuwarden was for a long time situated at the eastern coast of the Middelzee. Around 1000 AD a start was made with successive endikements. The areas east and west of the Middelzee are called Oostergo and Westergo, respectively.

150 year old dam in Jade Bay visited (11-10-2012)

Only the top end of wooden poles visible

Remains of dam covered by Blue mussels and Pacific oysters

A group of Dutch and German scholars and amateur historians payed a visit to the remains of a wooden dam built in 1854 connecting the Butjadingen mainland to a group of no longer existing islands (See Topical of March 2012). Remains were still partly visible, the western part being covered with Blue mussels and Pacific oysters.
Some documentation (in German)...
Exkursion in die Vergangenheit (Kreiszeitung Wesermarsch, 17. November 2012)

18th century shipwreck at Terschelling (July, 2012)

Wreck on the beach (photo: Henk Postma)

Eroded dune foot (photo: Henk Postma)

At the eastern tip of the Dutch island Terschelling part of a shipwreck was washed ashore. Possibly, extensive erosion of the foreshore made the wreck to become free from the sediment it was buried in.

Glass beads and copper rods (photo: Museum ‘t Behouden Huys)

The wreck, probably from the 18th century, still contained some cargo, e.g.: copper cooking pots, copper rods (from Sweden?), various beads (for trade in the West Indies?). As yet, there is no clue to the origin of the copper rods and the attached leadmarks (photo below). These carry the image of a two-headed eagle, being a common element in the arms of many European cities.

More info and photo’s...

Sunken land in North Frisia (April 2012)
On April 13-15, an excursion was made to the island Nordstrand in the Wadden Sea of Schleswig-Holstein (Germany). This island is a remainder of the larger island Strand, that was broken in pieces due to a storm flood in 1634. A few years earlier the legendary rich Rungholt was destroyed by the sea.
See here for an account of the excursion.
See here for the brochure Rungholt ein Mythos wird enträtselt.
See hier for pressinformation from Dr. Dirk Meier.

Once more: drowned land of the Jade bay (March 2012)
In the NE part of the Jade Bay, some small isles did exist until the mid of the last century, called “Oberahnesche Felder”. These “fields” were remains of an eroded salt marsh landscape. In the 1970s, retired Wadden Sea ecologist Hermann Michaelis observed exposed parts of an old brushwood groyne or dam, built in 1854 to connect the Butjadingen mainland with these isles. This dam was (partly?) removed in connection with the enlargement of the navy harbour in Wilhelmshaven. Whether the dam is this visible is not known to us.
topographic map by Lecoq
Section of the topographic map by Lecoq (1805-1814)

The sunken isle of Arngast (Jade Bay) (March 2012)
The Jade Bay is situated between the estuaries of the rivers Ems and Weser, south of Wilhelmshaven. The Jade Bay was formed by intrusions of the sea in the 13th century, leading to the loss of land and villages. Some islands were left over to remain in place for some time.
On March 15, 2012, during low tide, the Dutch Wadden Sea guide Lammert Kwant walked to the former island of Arngast. There he observed six old tree trunks. (See: W@dgidsenWeb 2.0...). Archeologist Ingo Eichfeld of Wilhelmshaven drew our attention to an earlier description of tree trunks at Arngast by F. Buchenau (1873). According to H. Schütte (1903) oak forests were common in this area until the 15th century, which indicates the age of the tree trunks observed by Lammert Kwant.

trunk near Jadebusen

History of Punt van Reide (Febr. 2012)
The small peninsula Punt van Reide, at the west side of the Dollard embayment (Ems estuary), is a remainder of an old salt marsh bank along the river Ems. Only scarce archaeological data are available. There are remains of fortifications from the 80-year War (1568-1648) and World War II, as well as an ancient dwelling mound. In Febr. and Sept. 2011 we investigated the area making comparisons between detailed elevation maps and the field situation. We also did some transects using a ground-penetrating radar. Preliminary results were presented to Groninger Landschap, the organisation in charge of nature conservation of the area. An additional and more detailed ground radar survey will be done later in 2012.

elevation map

Historic finds of Juist (February 24, 2012)
In co-operation with the local “Küstenmuseum” und “Heimatverein” a meeting was held in which inhabitants of the German island of Juist could present their historic finds to a team of Dutch and German experts.
Vondstenavond op Juist
The oldest finds were three potsherds from the Roman period (0 – 400 before Chr.) More...

50th anniversary of the 1962 stormsurge (February 17-19, 2012)
Due to the stormflood of February 16-17, 1962, the seadike near Pogum (Dollard, Ems estuary) got heavily damaged. The village of Dyksterhusen had to be completely evacuated. Of this almost-disaster a documentary film was made by Hans-Erich Viet, which was shown in the villages of Bunde, Jemgum and Weener.
At the same time a book by Lorenz Birkner “Die Sturmflut” was presented, containing eye-witness stories and contributions on stormfloods, dike building and land reclamations. Publisher: Verlag H. Risius KG, Weener, Germany. Price: € 12,00.

Lecture: Oysters in the Wadden Sea (Ameland – January 19, 2012)
At January 19th, Karel Essink gave a lecture on the history of oysters and oysterfishing in the Wadden Sea. He also told about the attempt of oysterfarming on the island of Ameland in the early 18th century. There was an audience of about 35 people.

Storm breaches tidal watershed of Simonszand (January 2012)
Due to the storm in early January, the tidal watershed south of the small island of Simonszand got breached. There is now a navigable gully connecting the channels Eilanderbalg and Spruit. Since several years the tidal watershed was observed to become narrower, leading to the present breach.

Drs. J.A.J. Stam

New member of the board
Mrs. Joan Stam, former mayor of De Marne, joined the board in January. She had and still has many functions in relevant Wadden Sea organisations.

Lectures Wadden Sea World Heritage
Professor Jos Bazelmans of the Dutch Waddenacademy organised a series of lectures at the Free University (Amsterdam). The lectures treated the following subjects, a.o.:
  • Holocene coast development in North-Netherlands (by Drs. Peter Vos)
  • Paradox of nature conservation in a changing world (by Prof. Dr. Peter Herman)
  • Cultural-historic values in the Wadden Sea area (by Prof. Dr. Jos Bazelmans)
    Videoregistrations – in Dutch - of these lectures can beseen on:

    Mysterious tidal flat circles (Ameland, November 2011)
    circles made of salthmarsh sods
    The discovery of circles made of salthmarsh sods in the tidal flats south of Ameland aroused the interest of a great many people. Was is an archaeological trace? Or something else? After some weeks the mystery was solved. A woman had made a labyrinth.
    Further information:

    Day of the Oldambt Histrory – November 26, Winschoten
    In the Tramwerkplaats theatre a a cultural-historic market was organised. Also, the new historical Canon of the Oldambt, a region South of the Dollard embayment (Ems estuary), was officially presented. Further information:
    The Sunken History Foundation presented paleogeografic maps showing a reconstruction of landscape development of the Dollard area over the last two millennia.
    For cyclists an interesting tour description in the Oldambt area was made available. Further information:

    dr. Albert Buursma

    Maritime heritage – November 11, Den Helder
    Under the title The Story of the Wadden, a meeting was held in Den Helder. The Sunken History Foundation gave a presentation of its work and showed some results of thits projects.
    For a summary see:

    Stormfloods and vanished islands in the Wadden Sea (lecture and film, October 31, 2011)
    The Dutch Wadden Academy presented lectures and documentary footage concerning the sunken island of Bosch (Dutch Wadden Sea) and the legendary medieval town of Rungholt (North Frisian Wadden Sea). Presentations were given by the Sunken History Foundation and the North Frisian historian Dr. Dirk Meier. More than 80 interested people fully filled the theatre of the Movie House in Leeuwarden.
    Further information:

    Woolly rhinoceros bone found at Texel (October 21, 2011)
    A 50 cm long entire humerus of a woolly rhinoceros was found at the beach of the island Texel. It was probably deposited there together with North Sea sand for coastal nourishment. The humerus is held at the Ecomare Nature Centre, where it is being conserved.

    Cultural heritage in the Wadden Sea
    In the framework of the Wadden Sea Coöperation, an inventory of cultural heritage is being prepared. The chairman of the foundation, Theo Spek, participated in working group meetings in Ribe (May) and Hannover (September). Further meetings are planned.

    Historic finds of Borkum (March 25, 2011)
    In co-operation with the local cultural history society “Heimatverein Borkum” a meeting was held in which inhabitants of the German island of Borkum could present their historic finds to a team of Dutch and German experts. Highlights were a 12/13th century potsherd and a bronze Mercury statuette, possibly dating from the Roman Period.
    More information at

    Lecture on the island Bosch (March 9, 2011)
    Hidde Feenstra and Albert Buursma presented a lecture on the once vanished island Bosch, eastern Dutch Wadden Sea. The lecture, given at the Regional Historic Centre at Groningen, covered the period from the Middle Ages until the re-discovery of the island in 2008. The audience amounted to ca. 150 people.

    New chairman oft he Board. (February 22, 2011)
    Because of leaving Groningen, Prof. Dr. Dick de Boer retired as chair of the Board of the Sunken History Foundation. His position was followed up by Prof. Dr. Theo Spek, who since 2010 is professor of landscape history at Groningen University.


    Flint of flintlock gun found at Ameland
    (February 19th, 2011)
    At the lower beach of the island Ameland, N.N. found an artefact that could be identified as a flint from a flintlock gun or pistol. Many of these flints were produced in SE England and Northern France, where flint is abundantly present in the limestone rocks. Flintlock guns were common in the 18th century.
    At Ameland, a few more of these flints were found earlier, probably washed ashore from a wrecked ship.

    Lecture: Oysters in the Wadden Sea - From stone age till present (February 16, 2011)
    At February, 16th, 2011 Karel Essink gave a lecture at the Drents Prehistoric Society in Assen (NL). The lecture dealt with oysters, and their exploitation by man in the Stone Age (Ertebølle-Culture), the Roman period, the 17th century until the last living specimen was observed ca. 1950. More recentely, the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) settled in the Wadden Sea, changing the structure of the ecosystem significantly.

    A new search at Engelsmanplaat (November 6, 2010)
    Further attention was given to the remains of old beacons found in April. Furthermore, various wooden and metal reference points for elevational mapping etc. were found, dating from more recent times. Our observations will be continued in 2011.
     a new search at Engelsmanplaat

    Day of the History of Groningen (October 16, 2010)
    This yearly event covered the theme “Land and Water”. Presentations were given by many organisations among which the Sunken History Foundation, The Working Group for Underwater Archeology and the Museumhuis Groningen. From 11 till 17 hrs there was a very diverse programm which attracted a great number of visitors. Further details are on .

    Stormflood 1509 – Innovation award for LAK
    A sum of 10.000 euro was awarded to the Ländliche Akademie Krummhörn (LAK) for innovation in the field of socio-cultural work. The LAK was our partner in the german-dutch project “Stormflood 1509”. This German prize was given because of the outstanding work done to bring the population of the region on contact with their common history. The award giving ceremony was on May 12th, 2010 in Krummhörn-Loquard (Germany).

    Historic finds of Terschelling (March 22, 2010)
    At March 22, inhabitants of the island of Terschelling are given the opportunity to present their historic finds (from the island itself as well as from the beaches) to a team of experts. Co-organizer is the local historic society Skylge myn Lântse.

    glazed potsherd  from the 17th/18th century

    Glazed potsherd found at the isle of Engelsmanplaat (January 2010)
    Mrs. Harmen und Henk Boer found a glazed potsherd from the 17th/18th century at the isle of Engelsmanplaat. Most likely its origin is a ships inventory.
    For find reporting see here.

    glazed potsherd  from the 17th/18th century

    Search at Engelsmanplaat (October 18, 2009)
    A search for traces of ancient habitation was carried out along the low water line around the isle of Engelsmanplaat. There are indications that in the early Middle ages the present position of Engelsmanplaat coincided with the westernmost tip of the island Schiermonnikoog. No such traces were observed, however. We did find six foundation remains of old beacons. Since about 1700 up to Wold War I Engelsmanplaat had 2 or 3 beacons to assist safe shipping.

    Sunken Villages of Zeeland (October 13-15, 2009)
    The project “Verdronken dorpen in Zeeland” by Stichting Cultureel Erfgoed Zeeland (SCEZ) was concluded with the unveiling of a monument at Colijnsplaat. Also a workshop was held during which Dr. Albert Buursma informed the audience about the work and experiences of the Sunken History Foundation in the Wadden Sea area. Further information:

    Commemoration of the 1509 storm surge (September 26th, 2009)
    The Cosmas and Damian storm surge of 500 years ago was commemorated during a meeting in the church at Pogum, Germany. In the afternoon, there was a varied programme at three dike locations around the Dollard, which was concluded with the narration of the storm surge and the highlighting with skybeamers of 15 of the lost villages. More information...

    Message from Korea (September 20, 2009)
    A Dutchman, living in South Korea, e-mailed that in the 1980s he was involved in a small excavation at farmland near the village of Nieuw Beerta. Possibly, remains of a church or graveyard were uncovered. This find has been kept quiet until now. We informed the provincial archaeologist Henny Groenendijk accordingly.

    Dollard Symposium (September 19th, 2009)
    A Dutch-German symposium on the history of the Dollard was held in Leer (Germany). More information...

    medieval potsherd Medieval potsherd found
    Mr. Rienk Dijkstra from Pieterburen found a medieval potsherd from the 12th/13th century at the tidal flats near Ternaard. Does this potsherd originate from the lost village part of Wierum or from a ships inventory?
    More information about find reporting.

    Lectures in Leeuwarden (March 7, 2009)
    About 60 people attended a meeting in the Museum of Natural History to listen to five lectures on various aspects of the history of the Wadden Sea area.
    More information...

    Historic finds of Ameland (November 20, 2008)
    At November 20, inhabitants of the island of Ameland were given the opportunity to present their historic finds(from the island itself as well as from the beaches) to a team of experts. About thirty people came with their numerous finds. The audience of interested people counted almost a hundred. Many and very diverse finds were brought in, ranging from ceramics to glasswork and from wooden pully-blocks to coins. Surprisingly old was an 11th century coin found on the beach. Even older was a Mesolithic axes from animal bone, also found at the beach. Unfortunately, no finds could fill in the gap in the early settlement history of the island.

    Bosch island exposition closed (October 27, 2008)
    After the autumn school holidays the exposition on the former island Bosch, held at the island of Schiermonnikoog, was closed. Approximately 12,000 visitors showed enthusiastic interest. About 700 exposition guides were sold; some more are still available.

    Dollard flooding 1509 (October 10, 2008)
    Progress is being made in composing the program commemorating the Cosmas- and Damianflood of September 26, 1509, that gave the Dollard its largest extension in history and caused the drowning of many villages.

    In cooperation with German partner organisations several activities are being prepared, such as a symposium on the history of the Dollard (September 2009). On September 26, a multimedia spectacle on the dikes will focus on the history of sunken villages. Furthermore, a memorial and tourist information panels will be erected. In 2010 expositions on the theme are foreseen in museums in Emden and Groningen.

    Investigations on Mandø (September 6, 2008)
    Hidde Feenstra and Axel Heinze Six people payed a visit to the small island Mandø in the Danish Wadden Sea. Using and earth-drill (photo) a search was made for possible remains of the once drowned village of Gammel (= Old) Mandø. No clear traces, however, were found. Renewed inspection of old sources seems necessary.
    The Wadden Sea Center at Vester Vestedt is interested in publishing the documentation of the islands history by Leo Oorschot because of its potential for school education.

    Nesserland graveyard site (July 25, 2008)
    Six people, guided by Groningen archeologist Egge Knol, payed a visit to the old graveyard site of Nesserland. This site, now amidst harbourworks and industries in the German city of Emden was until ca. 1500 part of the Dutch (Groningen) mainland. Due to the Cosmas- and Daman flood in 1509 the river Ems broke through, making Nesserland to an island, which in later times got connected with the Eastfrisian mainland. The old churchsite of Nesserland is still a point of orientation for the Dutch-German boarder in the Dollard embayment. Remains of the graveyard were inspected in the depot of the Emden Museum.

    Training of nature guides, Terschelling (May 2, 2008)
    Historian Drs. Albert Buursema took part in the training of volunteers of the Dutch Wadden Sea Society. He presented an overview of the history of human habitation of the Dutch Wadden Sea islands, and also showed a variety of historic artefacts that can be found on the beaches and tidal flats.

    Fishermen showed their historic finds (April 26, 2008)
    Fishermen showed their historic finds Historic finds by fishermen from Zoutkamp, active in the Wadden Sea and North Sea, were identified and assessed by three experts. Most of the finds were utensils, such as clay pipes and a nice pewter sand box used for blotting ink. Near the island of Terschelling coins were found most likely originating from the famous goldship ”Lutine”, shipwrecked in 1799. About 20 years ago, west of the island of Schiermonnikoog, bricks were found in fishing nets. These bricks may have come from a wrecked shipload, or are remains of the village of Westerburen that in the 18th century was flooded by the sea.

    No funding by Waddenfonds (April 24, 2008)
    Message was received from the responsible ministry of VROM that our request for project funding was not granted. Suggestions, however, were provided for subnision of a new and larger project.

    Monasteries in Harlingerland (April 6, 2008)
    In the framework of an international symposium on the role of Cistercian monasteries in the coastal landscape of North Sea and Baltic Sea, held in Aurich, Dr. Axel Heinze gave a presentation on the role of the five historic monasteries in the surroundings of Esens (East Frisia), a.o. in the field of water management.

    Lecture Noordpolderzijl (April 3, 2008)
    Dr. Axel Heinze (Esens, East Frisia, Germany) gave a lecture for the members of the Groningen tidal flat walkers society “Arenicola”. He presented various founds done in the past 30 years on the tidal flats of the East Friesian Wadden Sea. Among these are various traces of human habitation in the period 350 B.C. – 1500 A.D.

    Traces of the island Bosch beneath Schiermonnikoog! (March 2008)
    On March 22, mayor Bert Swart opened the exposition on the historic isle of Bosch in the visitors centre at Schiermonnikoog. Besides information on the isle of Bosch, also historic finds by people from Schiermonnikoog are shown. An exposition guide also contains information on recent observations using “groundradar” at the eastern tip of Schiermonnikoog, where Bosch was situated in historic times. The exposition runs until October 2008.
  • results of using the groundradar

    Sunken villages Dollard (2) 25-01-2008)
    25 januari 2008 Deliberations were continued regarding a project around this theme. The project will focus on the following activities: (1) in autumn 2008 a scientific symposium on the development history (geology, landscape, habitation) of the Dollard; (2) in September 2009 a publication on the development history of the Dollard aimed at a broader public; (3) also in September 2009 various manifestations around the Dollard, with special attention for the “sunken villages”; (4) in 2009 displays in musea around the Dollard. The working group will meet again end-February.

    Spectacular findings at Schiermonnikoog (20 november 2007)
    On November 20th the Foundation, together with the local society for cultural history, spectacular findings organized an evening at the island of Schiermonnikoog offering the possibility to islanders to show their historic finding to two professional archeologists. A great number of people brought various objects for evaluation. Also the media (TV, radio, writing press) were present.
    New findings of potsherds from ca. 1300 and even from the Merovingian era (700-800) provided evidence of older habitation of the island than known before. Oldest findings were an antleraxe of ca. 7000 years old, when the island did not yet exist and the North Sea sealevel was approx. 5 meters lower.
    The results of this meeting are an encouragement to held similar meetings at other islands and among fishermen.


    Scientific meeting
    (6 October 2007)

    A meeting was held in Wilhelmshaven (Germany) focusing on historic research in the international Wadden Sea. Six presentations were given in the auditorium of the research center Terramare.
    More information...

    chairman Karel Essink Sunken villages Dollard
    (31 August 2007)

    A brainstorm was held ate Nieuweschans to explore and structure a possible project regarding this theme. There were 14 Dutch and German participants. It was decided to focus on the 500th anniversary on 29 September 2009 of the Cosmas and Damian flood. This flood gave the Dollard its largest extension. Studying geological, archeological and historical material will allow picturing the development of landscape and habitation of the Dollard region. Trans-boundary cooperation will be enhanced. Various forms of presentation to the public are envisaged. A next meeting will be held in November. People interested to take part are requested to send their names.

    Otto von der Gablentz deceased (14 juli 2007)
    Dr. Otto von der Gablentz, figure-head of our recommending committee, died in Amsterdam at the age of 76. We thank him for his enthousiast support of our Foundations’ objectives, bringing together past and present of Germany and the Netherlands.

    Rundbrief nr. 1 (Mai 2007)
    (Deutsche Version)

    Special page on (April 2007)
    On the Foundations’ initiative a special page was created at directing the visitors’ attention to the possibility and desirability to convey and register findings of interest. The page links to different fields of interest We hope that more findings of the many visitors of the Wadden Sea area will be submitted.

    fragment of cooking pot (Rottumerplaat) Search at Rottumerplaat and Rottumeroog (March 2007)
    Thanks to the kind support of the Forestry Agency (Staatsbosbeheer) visits could be made to the small islands Rottumerplaat and Rottumeroog. The purpose was to search for historic traces etc around the low water line. On the westernmost edge of Rottumerplat a potsherd (see photo) was found from the 12th or 13th century, most likely washed out of a ships wreck in the tidal inlet.

    Formal establishment of the Foundation (January 2007)
    At January 17th, the Foundation was formally established by notarial act. The next day, the Foundation was entered in the register of the Groningen Chamber of Commerce.

    Scientific Meeting (25 November 2006)
    A first scientific meeting was held in Groningen. Four theme-presentations were used to discuss possibilities for future research and presentation projects.
  • Beate Kegler: German project on Sunken villages of the Dollard.
  • Otto Knottnerus: history of development and habitation of the Dollard.
  • Hidde Feenstra: ideas for a historic investigation of relationships between the island of Schiermonnikoog and the Frisian-Groningen mainland coast.
  • Dirk Meier: archeological investigations in Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany).

    Visit to Zeeland (October 2007)
    A working visit was made to Stichting Cultureel Erfgoed Zeeland (SCEZ) in the province of Zeeland (SW Netherlands). This foundation focuses on research regarding more than hundred sunken villages. During low tide remains were visited of the village Oud-Rilland, situated in the Western Scheldt. This village was destroyed in the St. Felix flood (5 November 1530).

    Searching at Schiermonnikoog (October 2006)
    Applying penetrating radar, beach surveys were made at parts of the island of Schiermonnikoog, aiming at finding indications for subsurface structures originating from the sunken island of Bosch and the vanished village Westerburen. Indeed subsurface structures were found at 2,5 – 5 m depth. Additional observations will be necessary to enable eproper interpretation of these findings.

    where was Bosch?

    Conference at Warffum (June 2006)
    A conference was held on 23 June 2006, presenting the results of a pilot-project “Sunken history – multidisciplinary search into unknown history” focusing on the long gone island of Bosch. A publication appeared in the periodical “Stad & Lande”.

    Exposition at Warffum (May 24 – August 20, 2006)
    Exposition “Bosch, a vanished island” at the museum Het Hoogeland, Warffum.

    Field trip Esens (May 2006)
    On May 14th, a visit was made to the historic museum in Sesens (East Frisia). During a walk on the tidal flats remains of historic habitation were observed.