Legends and folklore on Wieringen

On this page you find a collection of Wieringer legends, folktales and tall tales. Probably there is not much truth in them, but they are fun to read.

The city Grebbe

The legendary city Grebbe has its own page elsewhere on this site. It is likely that the tale of a city that disappears into the sea carries the echoes of the great flooddisasters around the year 1180 that resulted in Wieringen becoming an island.

The Sammelkes

The sammelkes were a kind of goblins who lived in the Sammelkeskuul (Sammelkes' pit). It was situated east of Hippolytushoef at the Gemeenelandsweg (Commons road). The sammelkes were happy little beings who danced at night and played on little flutes. They also smoked from little pipes. It is said that many of these flutes and pipes have been found in the Sammelkeskuul. Like many of their fellow little people in the Netherlands the Sammelkes liked copper very much. They took it from farms, used it and returned the pots and pans in the morning, all polished and scoured.
The Sammelkes were also responsible for bringing the babys on Wieringen, but in later years this task was taken over by the storks. The Sammelkes slowly became redundant, and at the end of the 19th century most people no longer believed in them. The pit disappeared and became a normal meadow. Since those days no Sammelkes have ever been spotted again on Wieringen.
Some scholars assume that the Sammelkeskuul could be a remnant of or memory to an ancient pagan offering- or buryingsite. This is in agreement with the ruling theories about similar places in the Netherlands, but near the Sammelkeskuul there has never been found anything supporting the theory. Perhaps it is interesting to know that on neighbouring Texel there is an ancient burial mount called the Sommeltjesberg (Little Sommel mountain).

De steen van Westerklief

The stone at Westerklief, a very large boulder on which more at the history - prehistoric times page, was reputed to turn around if it heard the churchbells chime. Mothers told their children not to make ugly faces, because "when the dog barks, the bell tolls and the stone turns around your mouth will stay that way..."

The stone at Westerklief has been erected. Who did this and when this happened is unclear. Whether there is a connection to the megalithbuilders who are responsibles for the Hunebedden (cromlechs, gravemounts) is also unknown. There are at least no clues pointing to that conclusion and the Westerklief stone is the only standing stone for many kilometres around.

The monastery at Vatrop

Vatrop has been mentioned in the earliest documents on Wieringen. Or at least a place or area named Varoht, in one sentence with Stroe and Alvitlo (later to become Hippolytushoef). It is widely assumed that Varoht is Vatrop. In the particular text the possession of two churches is recorded at Stroe and Alvitlo, directly followed by "et in Varoht similiter" - and the same applies for Varoht. Nowhere a monastery is mentioned, but there is a persistent legend about a monastery, connected by an underground tunnel with the church in Oosterland.
In 1885 old people told about vaults and remnants of ancient walls at Vatrop. They resembled "the choir of the chapel of the Barbarosses at the Valkhof in Nijmegen" notes the writer and should therefore be in Roman, early medieval style. As is further noted the fathers of these old folks had played in the rubble in their youth, so counting backwards that must have been between 1780 and 1800. However, should there indeed have been a monastery there, remnants of it should have been found long ago. The whole idea of an tunnel is - to be honest - ridiculous. Such a tunnel would have been several hundreds of metres long. Should it be there, then it is even more unlikely to have remained unfound than it is for the monastery.

The Heathen Chapel at Stroe

The church at Stroe (the Heathen chapel) in 1778, etching by Pieter van Cuyck

Stroe was like Vatrop and Westerklief one of the higher parts of the island. On these heights the first settlements were built. It is not too far fetched to suppose that the missionaries who came to convert the Frisian heathens on behalf of the Frankish emperor built a church on the spot of an ancient sanctuary. A usual strategy in these days. If this really happened shall remain a mystery for ever, I think. In any case this possibility will have helped in the forming of the myths that have always been around the church at Stroe. From the old documents we know that Stroe had a church as early as the first years of the 9th century.
A very cloudy story tells of a carved stone over one of the entrance doors to the Willibrord-church. It depicted a pig and many think that it is a remainder of the heathen chapel, because there is no obvious link between christianity, St. Willibrord and a pig. However, other sources say that the church was not only devoted to Willibrord, but also to St. Anthony, whose emblem was a pig. Haverkamp tells in a booklet from 1947 that the pig over the entrance was meant to prevent jews from entering the church. Far fetched, to put it mildly.
The Willibrordchurch was situated at Kerkebuurt (church-quarter), where the graveyard still is today. In 1878 the church was pulled down because it was nothing more than a ruin. The vicinity of the church and the surrounding meadows have always been a favourite location for treasurehunters. These treasurehunters were looking for the golden tongue of the churchbell, yet another legend of Stroe. This story has it that Stroe (Strude) used to be the regional centre of the white monks in the Middleages. This leads to the conclusion that there must have been a monastery on Stroe as well (see above as well). In any case, the monks were chased away in the 16th century during the reformation. When the iconoclasts came to destroy the chapel the monks are said to have removed the golden tongue and buried it somewhere near the church. It won't come as a big surprise that nothing has ever been found.

The Norsemen's gates

The church at Oosterland, and probably the Willibrordschurch at Stroe as well, had a low side-entrance at the northface of the church. This entrance is no longer there. Why this entrance was made is unclear. The story behind it is that these gates were made especially for the Norsemen (the Vikings). The Vikings were forced to bow before the altar when they entered through the gate. Another explanation that is told for similar gates in other parts of the country is that the churchgoers were forced to bow before the Viking leader or the North, were the Vikings had their homeland. (Thanks to Kees Nieuwenhuijsen for telling me about this other explanation).

More legends about the Oosterlander church

The church at Oosterland appears to be a place where a large number of local legends and mysteries converge. Soon I hope to present a separate set of pages on the Michaelschuch, comparable to those about the Hippolytuschurch. But now the legends.
During the recent restoration in the 1990s a number of remarkable things was found. As was known from the archives as early as the 9th century, not long after the Christianisation of the low countries, at least 2 churches had been founded on Wieringen. Research found the remnants of an older church under the present one. This older church has probably been built from wood and might be from the 9th century. Plain strange in this connection was the discovery of the foundation of crypt and choir. It was made as a stacked construction of boulders, one metre thick in total. From a purely technical point of view there was no reason to built crypts with a foundation. Thoughts quickly wander to the wellknown stories of missionaries building churches on top of heathen sacred places. Should this be the case we have got something unique here: the remnants of a Friso-Germanic heathen temple. As is proper for good scientists, the archaeologists conducting the investigation at the site have concluded that this is unprovable speculation.

Cropcircles on Wieringen

In August 2000 this picture appeared in the local newspapers. A cropcircle had been found on Wieringen!
The newspapers spent several columns on this mystery, but couldn't find out where the circle was.
Following a tip we managed to find its location. Read on for more details...

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