hidden europe 49

Hollandries: Dredging and Draining

by hidden europe


Europe's most accomplished dredgers and drainers are the Dutch. Settlers from the Netherlands have industriously drained wetlands and coastal meadows across the continent from Bordeaux to the Baltic. We look at some of the continent's Hollandries.

Dutch settlers shaped the Altes Land. But they were also active on the other side of the Elbe, settling in flat and poorly drained areas on the north bank of the river. By the mid-12th century, there were Dutch communities or drainage projects (so-called Hollandries) in the Kremper Marsh and Wilster Marsh. In the latter, there are areas which lie more than three metres below sea level. Further east, Dutch settlers helped draining marshlands to the south and east of Berlin. Their role is recalled in the name Fläming (from the German word for Flanders) — that’s the part of rural Brandenburg which lies immediately south of Berlin.

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