Een heilige in It Heidenskip: Een volmiddeleeuwse ontginning onder de klokslag van Sint Ursula

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Medieval peat reclamations in the Southwestern part of Friesland

Southeast of the town of Workum in the province of Friesland, human remains and a fragment of a sandstone sarcophagus were found at or near the site, according to a local myth, of a lost medieval convent. This convent was said to have been dedicated to St. Ursula, the virgin saint after whom a neighbouring canal and a small lake were named. In this study it is argued that St. Ursula was indeed a local patron saint, be it not of a convent but of a parish church, which was founded in the 11th century. The founding of this church is linked to the start of extensive agrarian peat reclamations. It served the colonists of the whole region south of the small river Larts until the late 12th century, when the peasants at the front of the reclamations, who had moved far away from the base at Saint Ursula’s, built a church of their own called Osledewald or Ursulawoude, also known as Oudega. St. Ursula’s church itself did not survive for long, probably because of the poverty of its remaining parishioners. Increasing drainage problems caused by peat reclamation in the wider area resulted in deteriorating environmental conditions. The parish of St. Ursula’s was merged with that of St. Gertrud of Workum after 1200. This search for St. Ursula’s sheds new light on the landscape and occupation history of a fairly large part of southwestern Friesland.
Original languageDutch
Title of host publicationFragmenten uit de rijke wereld van de archeologie
Subtitle of host publicationOpgedragen aan Ernst Taayke bij zijn afscheid als beheerder van het Noordelijk Archeologisch Depot in Nuis
EditorsAnnet Nieuwhof, Egge Knol, Jelle Schokker
Place of PublicationGroningen
PublisherVereniging voor Terpenonderzoek
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-90-811714-9-6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2018

Publication series

NameJaarverslagen van de Vereniging voor Terpenonderzoek


  • landscape history
  • Friesland
  • high middle ages
  • peat reclamation
  • parish system
  • medieval archaeology

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