Terschelling Flag

Terschelling Flag

Terschelling is one of the Wadden islands rests in between the Waddenzee and the Noord Zee. Terschelling islanders are known for their resourcefulness in using anything and everything that washes ashore, and what washes ashore is a great deal. With limited numbers of trees to use for timber on the island, and those that they have needed to break the winds that blow constantly off the stormy seas. Most of the farms and barns are built with masts and other timbers recovered from shipwrecks. The islands of the Waddenzee are surrounded by many shipwrecks, and even today many cargos and containers are washed ashore that are blown off the decks of cargo ships in the North Sea. The most famous shipwreck off the coast of Terschelling is the Lutine, whose bell now hangs in the central hall of Lloyds of London. There is the Oka 18 which sank near the town of Formerum. For many years the wreck could be seen rising out from the sea funnel first until it fully broke up. Now there is a bar in West Terschelling named after this ship.

These days as fishing and shipwrecks have declined the main source of income and today is tourism provides for the islanders. Tourists are attracted by the wonderful wild life of the area, particularly birds and sea mammals. Their is also a lot of sailing to be found especially on many fine old original schooners, sloops and barges. For other visitors it is the and the peace and quiet of the islands that is the attraction. Terschelling is well-known for the yearly Oerol Festival. This is a wonderfully imaginative festival of arts with theatre-performances that make use of the islands landscape and nature. One year they place great glass sea shells on the beach so that you could listen to the sea on the sand. Another year paintings were laid out across the beaches in a riot of colour and form. For many years the annual festival has been a feature of our family trips.

History Of Terschelling

The island in its current shape was formed in the Middle Ages from a sandy area called De Schelling in the west and the original island of Wexalia in the east. The name Wexalia, Wuxalia, or Wecsile is the medieval name derivation of eastern Terschelling but the name fell out of use by the end of the Middle Ages, last being used in a treaty between Folkerus Reijner Popma, then ruler of Terschelling, with king Edward IV of England in 1482. Evidence of settlements have been found dating from as early as 850 when a small wooden church was built on a hill near Seerip or Strip. This hill was later used as a burial ground and it is now known as the Striperkerkhof and is worth a visit if you go to the island.

Historically tensions existed between the inhabitants of West-Terschelling though it rarely resulted in actual conflict. With its strong orientation towards the sea West Terschelling and the more agriculturally oriented inhabitants of East-Terschelling the island was divided up in 1612 into independent political entities, West-Terschelling and East-Terschelling. Once the French occupied the country at the start of the 19th century was Terschelling united again.

In 1666 West-Terschelling was ransacked by the English when the English fleet planned to attack the Dutch merchant fleet which was moored before the coast of Vlieland, the next island to the west. When the Dutch vessels retreated towards Terschelling, the English followed destroying 150 Dutch vessels in the process and landed in the harbour of West-Terschelling. The British then burnt the town to the ground. The attack became known as Holmes Bonfire after the English admiral Holmes. It was with some considerable irony that the Great Fire of London occurred later the very same year and was considered by some in the Netherlands to have been Gods retribution for the attack. The next year, in 1667, the Dutch under command of De Ruyter executed a retaliatory expedition, and dealt the English navy a heavy blow at the Raid on the Medway which became later known as the Battle of Chatham. This defeat resulted in the ending of the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

Cranberries On Terschelling

The island is known for being the only Wadden island where cranberries grow. Cultivation of the berries was started by accident when in 1840, a barrel of cranberries, washed ashore on the islands coast, and the islanders cultivated them . The industry has been going every since. The cranberries, find the growing environment favourable and today the cranberry fields cover 0.5 km. The cranberries are mainly used by the islands restaurants and bakeries, who compete continually with each other to make the tastiest cranberry delicacies, and they are truly wonderful confections but do nothing for my waistline!

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