I wanted to write about the potential of the islands of Sylt and Rømø for a short cycling holiday, but I got a bit sidetracked. In a good way.
Looking for some info on campsites on Rømø, I found it listed as the southernmost of Denmark’s Wadden Sea Islands that is populated. That sounded nice, until I realized that it is actually the southernmost of Denmark’s Wadden Sea Islands. As in, the next island is German. So it would be remarkable if there were no people living on it. Being a rather big, and apparently beautiful island. So basically, as information, it was rather useless.
So I hoped, that there was some interesting reason behind this, and it was…
There used to be another island, that is now destroyed by storms and swallowed by the sea. And it was inhabited at one time. I needed to know more! How could I not?
The now disappeared island was Jordsand, one of the islands in the that are know als the Haligen. They are a group of about 10 North Frisian Islands on the Schleswig-Holstein’s Wadden Sea-North Sea coast, and they are terrific!
Not that they float losely above the sea, or are populated by purple rabbits (although that would of course be awesome) but if I was to live on an island in the sea, that flooded on a regular base, I would start making some protection against that. Like, maybe a dike. Of course being Dutch building dikes is a first instinct of me in any situation, but still…
I would not trust building my house on an island with only a terp (a raised piece of land where they would build their houses and keep their cattle when the water was high) to keep my feet dry to begin with. And especially not if it turns out that I get regular floods…
But anyway, the Haligen are pretty cool. They shift positions, they sometimes grow together, and sometimes, they just disappear. In that way, they are almost dinosaurs, that will be wiped out some day by nature, or by people who have learnt how to build protection against the floods. Their very existence belongs in a time when the sea would come and go as it pleases, and brave men and women would try to live with it. Although of course, I am sure they would have preferred some good coastal protection if it had been available to them. We must not over romanticize the past!
To get back to Jordsand. It was apparently at some point maybe connected to the mainland, or to it’s neighboring, German island of Sylt. It was once called Hiortsand or ‘Dear island’ because it had deer on it. In the 13th century it was about 20 km² big, and during the centuries it became smaller and smaller, until in 1895 the last terp was destroyed, and people left. The island was left for the birds as a sanctuary, and in 2000 it was flooded for ever.
You can still see it on Google maps earth view…a sand plate just underneath the sea. Maybe at low tide, it is almost uncovered…I don’t know. The boat from Romo to Sylt is passing it at pretty short distance. So I guess, I will ride the ferry at the lowest time next summer, and investigate. It is inevitable.