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Museum West-Terschelling
Museum West-Terschelling
Emergency shelter for shipwreck victims
Emergency shelter for shipwreck victims
Flag of Terschelling
Coat of arms of Terschelling
Highlighted position of Terschelling in a municipal map of Friesland
Location in Friesland
Coordinates: 53°24′N 5°19′E / 53.400°N 5.317°E / 53.400; 5.317Coordinates: 53°24′N 5°19′E / 53.400°N 5.317°E / 53.400; 5.317
 • BodyMunicipal council
 • MayorCaroline van de Pol (VVD)
 • Total673.99 km2 (260.23 sq mi)
 • Land85.26 km2 (32.92 sq mi)
 • Water588.73 km2 (227.31 sq mi)
Elevation6 m (20 ft)
 (January 2021)[4]
 • Total4,870
 • Density57/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code0562
Official nameDuinen Terschelling
Designated29 August 2000
Reference no.2215[5]
Dutch Topographic map of Terschelling, Dec. 2014
The "Bosplaat"

Terschelling (Dutch pronunciation: [tɛrˈsxɛlɪŋ] (listen); West Frisian: Skylge; Terschelling dialect: Schylge) is a municipality and an island in the northern Netherlands, one of the West Frisian Islands. It is situated between the islands of Vlieland and Ameland.

Wadden Islanders are known for their resourcefulness in using anything and everything that washes ashore.[citation needed] With few trees to use for timber, most of the farms and barns are built with masts recovered from shipwrecks. The islands are surrounded by shipwrecks, and even today many containers wash ashore that have blown off the decks of container ships in the North Sea.[citation needed]

The main source of income on Terschelling is tourism. There is some agriculture, but a large part of the island has become a nature reserve.

Terschelling is well known for the yearly Oerol Festival during which theatre performances are played throughout the island, making use of its landscape and nature.

Terschelling can be reached by ferry from the mainland Frisian town Harlingen and from Vlieland by high-speed catamaran.


The island in its current shape formed in the Middle Ages from a sandy area called De Schelling in the west and the original island Wexalia in the east. The name Wexalia, Wuxalia, or Wecsile is the medieval name of eastern Terschelling. However, this name disappeared at the end of the Middle Ages. The last appearance of the name Wexalia is in a treaty between Folkerus Reijner Popma, then ruler of Terschelling, with king Edward IV of England in 1482.

The oldest traces of civilisation on Terschelling date from around 850, when a small wooden church was built on a hill near Seeryp or Stryp (Striep). This hill was later used as a burial ground and is known as the "Strieperkerkhof".

Historically, tensions existed between the inhabitants of West-Terschelling, with its strong orientation towards the sea, and the more agriculturally oriented inhabitants of East-Terschelling. In 1612 this led to the division of the island into independent political entities, West-Terschelling and East-Terschelling. Only after the French occupation at the start of the 19th century was Terschelling again united as one entity.

The Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz was born on Terschelling around 1550.

In 1666 West-Terschelling was ransacked by the English. The English fleet had originally planned to attack the Dutch merchant fleet which was moored before the coast of Vlieland, the next island to the west. When the Dutch vessels retreated towards Terschelling, the English followed, destroyed 150 Dutch vessels, and landed in the harbour of West-Terschelling. The town was burnt to the ground by the English on this occasion which would become known as "Holmes' Bonfire" after the English admiral Sir Robert Holmes. The Great Fire of London in the very same year was considered by some[who?] to have been God's retribution. The next year, in 1667, the Dutch under command of De Ruyter executed a retaliatory expedition, and dealt the English navy a heavy blow at the Raid on the Medway (also known as the Battle of Chatham), in effect ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War.[citation needed]

In 1799, HMS Lutine, a British frigate loaded with British gold, sank on the western Terschelling coast (was erroneously quoted in the lemma on Texel) in a storm. Her wreck shifted in the sands; despite several intensive, well-financed searches, only a few treasures have been found. A beaker made from a silver bar is displayed in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Her bell was recovered and is now in the headquarters of Lloyd's of London, where it is tolled before announcing important news.

Until 1942 Terschelling, like Vlieland, was part of the province of North Holland.


On the island of Terschelling both Dutch, the national language of the Netherlands, and Frisian are spoken. Historically, Frisian dialects have dominated on the western and eastern sides of the island while a Dutch dialect called Midslands has been the main language of Midsland and the surrounding area at the center of the island. However, the use of the three dialects is on the decline, and all three are slowly being replaced by the standard Dutch language.


The island is known for being one of only two Wadden islands where cranberries grow, the other being the island of Vlieland. In 1840, a barrel of cranberries, apparently packed by sailors as an antiscorbutic, washed ashore on the island's coast, and the islanders cultivated them for their own sailors.

The cranberries, finding the environment favourable, established themselves on the island. Nowadays, the cranberry fields cover 0.48 km2 (0.185 sq mi) or 48 ha (119 acres). The cranberries are mainly sold to tourists and used by the island's restaurants and bakeries.

Population centres[edit]

Areas in Terschelling are the following: (Standard West Frisian names in brackets)

portrait of Willem Barents, 16/17 C

Notable people[edit]


Panorama of Terschelling, including Brandaris, the lighthouse of Terschelling.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "College van B&W" [Board of mayor and aldermen] (in Dutch). Gemeente Terschelling. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten 2020" [Key figures for neighbourhoods 2020]. StatLine (in Dutch). CBS. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Postcodetool for 8881EB". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Duinen Terschelling". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.

External links[edit]