An article in my daily newspaper about the oldest dike in the Netherlands – dating back to the 13th century, and 126 km long. Quite  something!

From the article (my translation:  In West-Friesland, Noord-Holland, the oldest dike of the Netherlands is situated. The Omringdike dates back to 1200. The dike is 126 km long and surrounds the area around Enkhuizen and Alkmaar. It keeps the IJsselmeer at bay, but the largest part bisects dry land now. One can walk on the dike, cycle on it, even drive a car. I found myself on the Omringdijk a few years ago, not knowing I was driving on such an old and long dike. 

The road curved around those places where the dike had broken once upon a time. The small lakes called ‘wielen’ (wheels) remind us of these calamities – small nature reserves and versions of Paradise. From the dike I could see over lakes, meadows and farmland, and those pyramid-shaped farms that are typical of the area.

The Omringdijk, I think, should have World Heritage status like the Amsterdam Entrenchment or the Beemster Polder. That is the stated opinion of the Cultuurcompagnie of West-Friesland, too. They organised a visit to the Omringdijk for us, six journalists. We went to an information session in an old farm shed, accompanied by food and drinks traditionally served in the area.

The area has been inhabited ever since the stone age. Stone age man Cees was found in Opmeer and is some 4500 years old. West-Friesland was a peaty knoll sticking up between the North Sea and the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) in those days. Peat is damp, so people worked at irrigating it. The peat became dry and oxidized. It set, and the knoll became a depression. The seas threatened, and the Omringdijk became necessary.

We then were given the opportunity to see this phenomenon for ourselves. Not by foot, not on a bike, not by car, but in a tiny tiny two-seater plane. Farmer Jaap van der Beek owns a small private airfield (a small flag flying over a meadow) and got his plane out of its hangar by hand.

Koos Dijksterhuis, Trouw, April 1th.



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