• Hans 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. Read below why.

Piet Vink is The Hague’s most well-known post-war alderman. He was a socialist. Born in 1927 in the village of Delfzijl in province of Groningen at the mouth of the River Ems in the north-east of the Netherlands. From 1970 till 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 in the city quarter Kijkduin of The Hague near the North Sea coast. This monument of nature is officially named Piet Vinkplantsoen (Piet Vink park) but is more generally known under its nickname ‘the Terp of Vink’ or short 'The Terp'. The Hague people like 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 tower with apartments 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. At 2012 the original monument was beyond saving and in that year the city council decided that if apparently it’s going stay, better make something representative out of it. The Terp of Vink was redesigned into what it's 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’s 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. The eight (house) terps in Overdiepse Polder ('polder' meaning reclaimed land) in province Noord Brabant even 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. The bastards of Frisia Coast Trail are therefore very content with The Hague's city-planning department. Keep up the good work!

Furthermore, it's 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 blog post A terp for Choquequirao.

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

There are many names for artificial dwelling mounds. In province Friesland (Mid Frisia) and in province Noord Brabant since recently in the Netherlands, they are named ‘terp’. In province Zeeland the are called a 'werve'. In province Noord Holland the name is 'werf' similar to that of Zeeland. In province Groningen in the Netherlands they are named ‘wierde’. In Ostfriesland (East Frisia) and in Nordfriesland (North Frisia) both in Germany, these mounds are called respectively 'Warf' and 'Warft'. In the southwest of Denmark at the outermost northern tip of what is kreis Nordfriesland the name ‘værft’ is being used. But many, many more names exist.

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 former Frisia where people lived on their handmade dwelling mounds too, called a wierde. We just say the word ‘Ezinge’ and say no more. The 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.

location of The Terp of Vink

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

Suggestions for 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)