National Landscape Middag-Humsterland

'Island' in ancient landscape

Middag-Humsterland is the oldest cultural landscape in Europe. A landscape that can be read! A landscape revealing its secrets  only to the attentive viewer. Discover how nature and mankind throughout the centuries have molded this landscape!


National Landscape

Middag-Humsterland is one of the twenty National Landscapes found in the Netherlands. The National Landscapes are real Dutch landscapes, characterized by a unique combination of nature, differences in height, buildings and land use. Each National Landscape tells the story of the birth of the Dutch landscape.
Middag-Humsterland was designated in 2005 as National Landscape for its three special features:
* Relief landscape through mounds, dikes and salt marshes.
* The irregular pattern of agricultural land
* The very open landscape.

Mid oog Hugmerki

Middag-Humsterland is an area (originally two areas) that stands out from the surrounding country: Mid-dag  is from mid-oog and means middle island - and Humsterland was named after the medieval Hugmerki tribe who lived there. Hugmerchi originally being another word for ‘kerspel’, which was a medieval word for ‘parish’.

Back in time

More than three thousand years ago Middag-Humsterland was the northern Dutch coast. An area that ever since has undisturbedly developed into a less inundated and overgrown  landscape. This did not go unnoticed by residents of the Drenthe sandy soils, who recognized it as fertile land and excellent pastures for their livestock. The early pioneers searched for natural elevations in the landscape, because even though the sea was calm, there was no protection. The first inhabitants arrived by following the rivers that flowed into the sea from the sandy soils of Drenthe. The current Reitdiep had its origins in this primeaval rivers. At a certain point the early pioneers started laying their first foundation. Archaeological finds show that that most certainly took place two and a half thousand years ago.

Ancient villages

Initially, the first settlements were not elevated; they are referred to as plane settlements. The pioneers were quite isolated. Their new habitat was separated from the Drenthe sandy soils by impassable bogs. Between them and the sea was a vast tidal area that must have looked quite like the current mudflats.

Agriculture, churches and monasteries

From 500 BC, the Middag-Humsterland has been continuously inhabited. Since the beginning of our era farmers have worked the land.  Despite many changes throughout the years, the landscape is still as beautiful and authentic due to these farmers.  Sophisticated monks also chose to live in Middag-Humsterland where they founded churches, which can still be admired today thanks to the Groningen Church Foundation.

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