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Terschelling: Wikis


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—  Municipality  —
Satellite image of Terschelling
Satellite image of Terschelling
Flag of Terschelling
Coat of arms of Terschelling
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 53°24′N 5°19′E / 53.4°N 5.317°E / 53.4; 5.317
Country Netherlands
Province Friesland
Area (2006)
 - Total 674.00 km2 (260.2 sq mi)
 - Land 88.10 km2 (34 sq mi)
 - Water 585.90 km2 (226.2 sq mi)
Population (1 January, 2007)
 - Total 4,702
 - Density 53/km2 (137.3/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
The "Bosplaat"

Terschelling (About this sound pronunciation ; West Frisian: Skylge; Terschelling dialect: Schylge) is a municipality and an island in the northern Netherlands, one of the West Frisian Islands.

Wadden islanders are known for their resourcefulness in using anything and everything that washes ashore. With few trees to use for timber, most of the farms and barns are built with masts recovered from shipwrecks. The islands are surrounded by famous shipwrecks, and even today many containers wash ashore that are blown off the decks of cargo ships in the North Sea. Perhaps the most famous shipwreck off the coast of Terschelling is the Lutine, whose bell hangs in Lloyd's of London. Another famous ship was the Oka 18, which sank near the town of Formerum. Until recently her funnel could be seen rising out from the sea. In West Terschelling a pub was named after this ship.

The main source of income on Terschelling is tourism. There is some agriculture, but a large part of the island has become a nature reserve.

Terschelling is well-known for the yearly Oerol Festival during which theatre-performances are played throughout the island, making use of its landscape and nature.

Terschelling can be reached by ferry from the mainland Frisian town Harlingen and from Vlieland by high-speed catamaran.



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 Wexalia in the east. The name Wexalia, Wuxalia, or Wecsile is the medieval name of eastern Terschelling. However this name disappeared at the end of the Middle Ages. The last appearance of the name Wexalia is in a treaty between Folkerus Reijner Popma, then ruler of Terschelling, with king Edward IV of England in 1482.

The oldest traces of civilisation on Terschelling date from around 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 is known as the ”Striperkerkhof”.

Historically tensions existed between the inhabitants of West-Terschelling, with its strong orientation towards the sea, and the more agriculturally oriented inhabitants of East-Terschelling. In 1612 this led to the division of the island in independent political entities, West-Terschelling and East-Terschelling. Only after the French occupation at the start of the 19th century was Terschelling united as one entity again.

In 1666 West-Terschelling was ransacked by the English. The English fleet originally 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, destroyed 150 Dutch vessels, and landed in the harbour of West-Terschelling. The town was burnt to the ground by the English on this occasion which would become known as "Holmes's Bonfire" after the English admiral Holmes, the Great Fire of London in the very same year was considered by some to have been God's retribution. 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 (also known as the Battle of Chatham), in effect ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War.


Although Dutch is the national language of Holland, in Terschelling and in Friesland Frisian is spoken. This language is said to be the closest living relative to Early English.


The island is known for being the only Wadden island where cranberries grow. In 1840, a barrel of cranberries, apparently packed by sailors as an antiscorbutic, washed ashore on the island's coast, and the islanders cultivated them for their own sailors.

The cranberries, finding the environment favourable, established themselves on the island. Nowadays, the cranberry fields cover 0.48 km². The cranberries are mainly sold to tourists and used by the island's restaurants and bakeries, who compete continually with each other to make the tastiest cranberry delicacies.

Population centres

Brandaris, the lighthouse of Terschelling

(Standard West Frisian names in brackets)

External links

Coordinates: 53°24′N 5°19′E / 53.4°N 5.317°E / 53.4; 5.317



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