July 1987. The two Frisian bastards, both being sixteen years old at the time, went to the village of Wijnaldum, or Winaem in Mid-Frisian language. The reason for it was twofold. Firstly, the yearly street-kaatsen tournament was taking place. Secondly, one of their classmates Gerda lived closed to the village and this was a good excuse to meet her. Barely the bastards had arrived at the tournament, or they were ordered to leave the village.
Last week, December 2020, one of the Frisian bastards walked the Terpenroute ‘Terps Path’, also called it Fiskerspaed ‘Fishermen’s Path’. It is an unpaved path starting at the village of Wijnaldum, just north of the town of Harlingen, leading to the town of Franeker, and it follows the small stream De Ried. The Terpenroute is about 4 kilometres long and it starts at the monument marking the historic relevance of this place, designed by architect Nynke-Rixt Jukema and artist Roelie Woudwijk. Luckily, the monument is neatly tucked away in some bushes so it does not distract all that much (read our blog post A Terp for Choquequirao about this Inca monument in the Frisian landscape). A terp is an artificial settlement mound. To learn more about these mounds read our Manual to Make a Terp in 12 Steps.
Wijnaldum and its surroundings is presumed to be an important early-medieval region. A lot of gold has been found in this soil and, of course, it is the area where the magnificent, seventh-century fibula of Wijnaldum-Tjitsma terp has been found (read our blog post Ornament of the Gods found in a mound of clay). It is clear from archaeological research that the area had intensive contacts with both the southeast of England and with southern Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages. Archaeologists hoped, and some still do, to find the traces of an elite, regal and even king-like settlement structures. In the past they even speculated Wijnaldum was the seat of the illustrious King Finn Folcwaldin known from the epic Beowulf. However, thus far, no prove what so ever.
The current stream De Ried or Roptavaart is, in fact, a remnant of a creek that once flowed there during the Early Middle Ages. In a time when there were no dikes yet, and Wijnaldum was part of a huge, barren tidal marshland area. Along the already somewhat elevated banks of De Ried, terps were erected from the beginning of the third century AD onward. Like a ribbon, running more or less from west to east. The village Wijnaldum is located on the most western terp. The terp Tjitsma, in which the famous fibula was found, just east of it. When walking the Terpenroute you will be able to see the ridge of terps. Let your fantasy run wild and you see early-medieval villages, a treeless landscape, boats and sailors from Kent and island Fyn in Denmark. The only thing left from those days are the sheep and the clay soil.
Anyway, back to the summer of 1987. When last week one of the bastards walked from the town of Harlingen to the start of the Terpenroute, and entered Wijnaldum via the Winamerdyk Rd, the thirty-three-years-old memory came back. Then, both bastards biked to the village in search of Gerda. She was one of the most beautiful girls of their class. As soon as they found her, all the boys of the village found them too. That two guys from the port town of Harlingen would steal one of their girls was unacceptable, and the most pretty one was in any case out of the question.
The kaatsen game (read our post Donkey King if you want to have a clue what this exotic sport is about) was left for a while and they all gathered around the bastards. Gerda prevented the Wijnaldum youngsters from starting to fight, but staying was no option either. The bastards would have ended up buried in the regal grounds, next to King Finn. They had to leave.
With their Zundapp and Kreidler mopeds they escorted the bastards out of the village, while the bastards were walking besides their bikes. Gerda walked with the bastards. They were escorted all the way down Winamerdyk Rd and Siverdaleane Rd, about 1,5 kilometres, to where the house of Gerda was. Near the hamlet of Roptazijl. It was like a World Championship Football. When during the semi-finals the Germans loose, you do want to check if Die Mannschaft actually has left the tournament and took the plane or bus out of the country.
The bastards were warned never to return to Wijnaldum. Till last week, that is…
– in memoriam Gerda Jongsma (1971-2007) –
PS. For more pics of the Terpenroute, check this link.
- Besteman, J.C., Bos, J.M. & Heidinga, H.A., Graven naar Friese koningen. De opgravingen in Wijnaldum (1992)
- Heeren, S. & Feijst, van der L., Fibulae uit de Lage Landen. Brooches from the Low Countries (2017)
- IJssennagger, N.L., Nicolay, J.A.W., Hattenberg, T. & Amsterdam, E., Gemeten goud. Een onderzoek naar goudgehaltes van vroegmiddeleeuwse objecten uit Friesland (2016)
- Koning, de J., Trans Flehum. Wijnaldum, Den Burg, Texel, Westergo; Het Vlie als verbinder en grens (2018)
- Nicolay, J.A.W. & Aalbersberg, G., Wijnaldum: koningsterp aan de Ried (2018)
- Nieuwhof, A. (ed), The excavations at Wijnaldum. Volume 2: Handmade and wheel -thrown pottery of the first millennium AD (2020)
- Vet, de S., Nederlands Kustpad deel 3, Friesland – Groningen. Wandelen langs werelderfgoed Waddenzee (2013)