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  • Writer's pictureHans Faber

The terp that should have been a wierde

The Hague, June 29, 2013. The day Zwaantje Vink-Brouwer, widow of Piet Vink, together with a party of local government people, re-opened the monument ‘The Terp’ in honor of her late-husband. But, naming this monument a ‘terp’ is all wrong. It infuriated the people of province Groningen and near separation from the Netherlands. Read below why.

Piet Vink is The Hague’s most well-known post-war alderman. He was a socialist. Born in 1927 in the town of Delfzijl in province of Groningen, at the mouth of the river Ems in the northeast of the country. From 1970 until 1986 he was alderman in The Hague, and was mainly responsible for youth, sports and recreation. When he retired in 1986, the city donated to him a small park on the city quarter Kijkduin of The Hague, near the North Sea coast. This monument of nature officially is named Het Piet Vinkplantsoen ‘the Piet Vink park’ but is generally known under its nickname De Terp van Vink ‘the terp of Vink’ or short De Terp. The Hague people, not its politicians, like it short.

The Terp was nearly wiped from the surface of the earth. First, plans for a gas station were cancelled. Later, plans for bungalows were abandoned. And, later again, the Terp of Vink nearly was sacrificed for a fifty-meters-high apartment tower with views over the North Sea. Protests of inhabitants of the quarter Kijkduin prevented materialization of this plan too. So, the park stayed. But, it had been fully neglected over the many years of being on death row. In 2012 the original monument was beyond saving, and in this year the city council decided that if apparently it was going stay, better make something representative out of it. The Terp of Vink was redesigned into what it is today: a park of two little hills with a walking path in between. A year later, as said, it was formally re-opened by his wife Zwaantje.

Miles Davis meets Piet Vink

It is good to witness terps are still being erected in modern times, and that a 2,600 year old tradition is alive and kicking. We have seen the construction of the terp at Wieringerwerf in province Noord Holland before the Second World War, and the farm dairy the Friesche Terp in Pengalengan near Bandung in the Dutch-Indies, present-day Indonesia. Then of course the eight (house) terps in Overdiepse Polder (polder meaning 'embanked land') in province Noord Brabant constructed only a few years back.

The Terp of Vink may be overlooked, but province Zuid Holland is indeed the proud owner of a terp too. Actually, the owner of two terps, since at Leidschenveen -again a city quarter of The Hague- another terp has been built only a few year ago. A tiny church, an artwork of Laurens Kolks and Dennis Lohuis, stands on top of the mound, what actually was a former dumpsite. The Frisian bastards are therefore very content with The Hague's city-planning department. Keep up the good work!

Furthermore, it is good to witness terps are not only being erected for practical use anymore, but as monuments too. As is the case with the two terps of The Hague. Now we have two reasons for their existence. In this context we also refer to the plans of erecting a terp at the archaeological Inca site in Peru. To learn more about the sense and nonsense of this project, read our post A Terp for Choquequirao, in Peru.

All very nice but in fact The Terp of Vink should have been named 'The Wierde of Vink'

There are many names for artificial settlement mounds. In province Friesland and, since recently, in province Noord Brabant, these mounds are named ‘terp’. In province Zeeland these mounds are called a werve. In province Noord Holland the name is werf, which similar to that of Zeeland. In province Groningen these mounds are named wierde. In region Ostfriesland and in Kreis Nordfriesland, both in Germany, these mounds are called respectively Warf and Warft, but also Wurt is possible. In Flanders, Belgium, terps exist too and carry many names, from werve, wierde to stelle. In the southwest of Denmark at the outermost northern tip of what is the region of Nordfriesland the name værft is being used. But many, many more names exist. Indeed, the Frisians have the same disorder with for terp as the Inuit for snow, although not the 200 always suggested the Inuit have.

location of The Terp of Vink

Piet Vink was born and raised in province Groningen. Even born in the town of Delfzijl at the estuary the Dollart where the river Ems flows into the Wadden Sea. This is part of the bigger region Ommelanden. An ancient region of medieval Frisia where people lived on their handmade dwelling mounds too, called a wierde. We just say the word ‘Ezinge’ and say no more. Conclusion is that the name wierde would have been more appropriate. The name then could have evolved through the time from 'Vinkwierde' into e.g. 'Finkwerd' or a local variation of it instead of its current name Het Piet Vinkplantsoen.


Note: Those who plan to erect a terp, wierde, Warf, etc, themselves, please find here our Manual Making a Terp in 12 Steps.

Suggested music

Miles Davis, So What (1959)

Further reading

Musterd, P., Een monument voor een wethouder. Part I - IV, blog Haagspraak (2013)

Schroor, M. (red), De Bosatlas van de Wadden (2018)

Steijlen, F., Friese koeien tussen de sawa's. Een speurtocht naar Fries melkvee en melkproductie in Nederlands-Indië (2018)

Westerink, B., Wierdenlandschap (2022)

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