Schokland Polder Landscape (World Heritage)

Schokland Polder Landscape

According to a2zgov, the polder landscape illustrates the influence of the sea on the settlement of the Netherlands. The peninsula in the eastern IJsselmeer, inhabited since prehistoric times, became an island in the 15th century due to the rising water level. With the construction of the north-east polder (1936-42), Schokland was once again connected to the mainland.

Schokland polder landscape: facts

Official title: Schokland polder landscape
Cultural monument: original peninsula in the Zuidersee; became an island in the 15th century; thanks to the dike in the Zuidersee and constant water regulation since the 1940s, 50,000 hectares of newly reclaimed polderland; Schokland is part of this polder with 110 ha
Continent: Europe
Country: Netherlands, Flevoland
Location: Schokland, between Urk and Ens
Appointment: 1995
Meaning: Symbol for the struggle of the Dutch against the omnipotence of the sea

Schokland polder landscape: history

12-14 Century Settlement on terps
1834 Completion of the Protestant Church
1842 Demolition of the Catholic Church in Oud Emmeloord
1859 Due to regular flooding, resettlement of the residents (Schokker) on the orders of King Willems III.
1932 Damming of the Zuidersee, creation of the IJsselmeer
1942 Drainage of the Noordoostpolders
1957 and 1968 further measures for polder reclamation

An island in a green field

The wind blows through the grass in the old harbor basin, in which small fishing boats once swayed themselves on shallow waves when they took shelter there from the rumbling Zuidersee. This old harbor basin on the northeastern flank of the former island of Schokland can still be seen today. Standing on the pier, the gaze falls on a brittle wooden structure that delimited the harbor basin. Wooden icebreakers tower up just a few meters away, essential protection in the harsh winters of Schokland, a symbol of the endless struggle against the water. But something is still missing, because far and wide the eye does not see water, but endless fields and meadows: the fascinating scenery of a harbor on a green meadow.

Schokland was once surrounded by the roaring Zuiderzee. Two centuries ago, a few hundred people lived there on artificially created protective mounds, so-called terps. They knew how to drain the swampy surrounding area and gain arable land. Daily life on the island, however, remained a constant struggle against the sea. The population was repeatedly forced to move into new terps, while the old ones sank in the floods. In the end the people only lived on the eastern flank of the island, in the villages of Middelbuurt, Zuidert and Oud-Emmeloord, the largest town on the island.

An independent culture developed in these village communities, a Dutch micro-society with no fixed ties to the nearby mainland, with its own traditional costumes and a long-term self-sufficient economy. The main source of income was fishing, a hard and dangerous job. Numerous shipwrecks on the sea floor bear witness to this. Falling catch quotas brought many fishermen to the brink of ruin, so that in the middle of the century before last, only one in four Schokker was able to get along without government support. This aid was not only a charitable act, but was based on the sober knowledge that the island was of elementary importance for the safety of economically important shipping.

As the situation became more and more acute, the Dutch government no longer saw the security of the islanders guaranteed in the middle of the 19th century and, based on a royal edict, ordered the complete evacuation of the island villages. Subsequently, dikes were leveled and buildings torn down. The land, left to its own devices, sank further into the sea.

Only the planned partial drainage of the Zuiderzee created a new situation at the beginning of the 20th century. Shortly after the end of the First World War, the Dutch government decided to build the closure dike between Friesland and Noord-Holland, which gave rise to today’s IJsselmeer and formed the basis for the large-scale formation of polders. The gigantic project dragged on for several decades before a twelfth Dutch province, Flevoland, was finally created. More than three years after work began in the area of ​​what is now the Noordoostpolders, a 50-kilometer ring dike southwest of Schokland was closed and pumping stations began to pump out the water. In 1942 the polder dried up and finally wrested Schokland from the sea. What was created now

As early as the Middle Ages, large areas of today’s polder area were water-free due to a significantly lower sea level. After the successful polders in the middle of the last century, archaeologists found numerous sites of prehistoric settlement. The remains of bones, stone tools and pieces of clay that were found document this reclamation of Schokland.

Schokland Polder Landscape