Secret of the Rif

Will the Rif ever reveal its village secret? Over the centuries the Rif sandbar became attached to the western beach of the ‘walking island’ of Schiermonnikoog.

The Rif is part of the Engelsmanplaat and forms a barrier between the North Sea and the Wadden Sea. It protects the Engelsmanplaat from the raging North Sea waves and also provides refuge to both rare mudflat birds and seals during high tide.

The Rif is a theatrical stage for the natural and never-ending battle between sea and land. The sandbar has been caught in a continuous cycle of emergence and submergence for more than one-hundred years. It has man to thank for its existence. The closure of the Lauwerszee Sea in 1969 altered the currents between Ameland and Schiermonnikoog and provided space for the Rif to form.

Just as the Engelsmanplaat the Rif was always thought to have been an uninhabited island. Until recently when finds in the soil indicate the existence of a settlement. A completely unknown village on Schiermonnikoog! There is no concrete proof (yet) but it is certainly a possibility. The dynamics of the Wadden area have given it a rich history of ‘sunken villages’. You can find more information in the Schiermonnikoog visitors centre.


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