World heritage Schokland

Timeless Mystery



Once upon a time, Schokland lay in the middle of the stormy Zuiderzee which washed away large parts of the island. People lived there in spite of the threatening water and the poverty. From prehistoric times and the Middle Ages until modern times.

These people left all kinds of traces behind which are mainly to be found in the ground under Schokland. These traces are so old – sometimes thousands of years – that we call them archaeological treasures. Archaeology involves the scientific study of remains from old cultures. In this way, we can take a look into the past and see how the people lived in those times.


Schokland’s treasures have fortunately been well preserved. It is still possible to find many remains in the ground from the hunter-gatherers and farmers who lived along the rivers. Until around 1450, Schokland was not, in fact, an island but a swampy peatland with a few dry hills here and there. The whole area around Schokland was probably prepared for agriculture even before the fourteenth century. When the rising water washed away large pieces of the peatland, it became a peninsula. Schokland only became a real island when the Zuiderzee swallowed up the last piece.

The inhabitants

People were already living on Schokland 12,000 years ago. They lived there as hunter-gatherers and fishermen. During the Middle Ages (500-1500 AD) there were mainly farmers here who kept cattle and grew cereal crops. From the 12th century inhabitants lived on the man-made mounds (terpen): Zuidpunt, Zuidert, Middelbuurt and Emmeloord. At high tide or during a storm tide these hills were the only safe places on the island. During the 17th century, agriculture declined because of the loss of land to the sea. Trade, shipping and, above all, fishing became more and more important.ker.

Island on dry land

In 1859, the islanders lost their battle against the water for good. The government decided that the inhabitants had to leave the island. Not only because of the continuing danger of floods, but also because of the poverty. Around 635 ‘Schokkers’ moved to the mainland. Schokland remained in existence but in 1942, following the reclamation of the Noordoostpolder, it became an island on dry land.

Schokland World Heritage Site

So this is how a unique place originated: the Schokland World Heritage Site. An archaeological monument in the polder, with traces of human habitation going back 10,000 years.