Museum Tromp’s Huys: Wanda Saga

The sea has altered the geography of Vlieland and the other Wadden islands many times. There are quite a few stories about these changes, some more reliable (often the more recent ones) than others. Yet some of these old stories do spark our imagination, such as the so-called Wanda Saga, which you can listen to at the Tromp’s Huys.​

The saga is about the formation of Eijerlandse Gat, the strait between Texel and Vlieland. This story is linked to St Lucia's flood, a storm that caused devastating flooding on 13 and 14 December 1287, St Lucia's name day.

St Lucia’s flood
This storm flood hit the Friesian coastline the hardest and it is probably this flooding that created the Wadden Sea as we know it today. The storm also created the Zuider Zee which separated West Friesland from present-day Friesland. 

Vlieland was beaten by the storms and all the water that came crashing down on the meagre dunes. Together with the people of Vlieland, monks from the North Friesland Ludinga monastery decided to build a canal between Eijerland (now part of Texel) and Vlieland to drain excess water from the Zuider Zee back to the North Sea thus preventing further flooding. This is how the Wanda Saga originated.

There are various versions of the Wanda Saga but they all go something like this. Wanda reigned over Vlieland and Eijerland. She had two sons. On a winter day one of the sons was playing on an ice floe; it drifted away and the son was never heard from again. 

Some time later, when Hessel, the other son was older, monks arrived claiming to own part of Wanda’s land. And even worse, the monks dug a canal through the dunes in order to shorten the route to the North Sea. Wanda and Hessel protested and Hessel killed the monk Bouwe, the leader of the digging team, in a scuffle. As it turned out Bouwe was Wanda’s long lost son who had been saved and cared for by the monks! 

Wanda panicked when she heard the news and remembered a curse that had been put on her family; if a man in the family kills a brother the sea will devour her kingdom. And so it was that Eijerlandse Gat devoured Wanda’s land. According to the saga you can still see Wanda’s ghost trying to calm the waves during heavy storms.


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