January 8, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007By Nate Wybenga
On today’s “field trip” we drove around in the northern part of the country and looked at 34 different “terps”. Terps are dwelling mounds, manmade, that were used prior to dykes to protect against flooding. They are literally manmade mounds of ground made with sod or manure that would raise houses or villages by a few meters. There are thousands of villages built on Terps all throughout the Netherlands and Europe. After the rise of Christianity, many of the villages built very large and beautiful churches at the top of the mounds in the center of the village. As we toured around to all these different terps, we were able to stop at a couple of churches and either walk around or look inside them.
After the invention of dykes to prevent flooding, terps became unnecessary as a means of preventing flooding. The land underneath the dwelling mounds had very rich soil, and it became profitable to dig away dwelling mounds for their soil. So, many of the mounds today have either been completely dug away, or have pretty much just the church left on top of them.
It was very neat to see the dwelling mounds and the towns built on them. Prior to the invention of dykes, entire communities depended on these dwelling mounds for survival and in order to flourish. In the late afternoon we drove back to our home in Broek.
An example of a terp that has been nearly completely removed
Our group at a church on top of one of the dwelling mounds
A good example of a dwelling mound with a church at the top
(sorry for the blurry foreground)