Frequently asked questions

What is a terp or a wierde?

The words ‘terp’ and ‘wierde’ mean the same thing: earth mounds built by humans, to protect themselves against the floods. ‘Terp’ is a Frisian word. In Groningen, the word ‘wierde’ is used and in the province of Noord-Holland, the earth mounds are called ‘werf’. The first terps and wierden were built around 500 B.C. Soon many more followed. This way, a thread of earth mounds arose, that spread all the way from Belgium to Denmark.

Many of the mounds were inhabited as time passed and in some cases, complete villages were built on top of them. Groningen and Friesland used to have as many as 1200 mounds, 955 of them in Friesland and 235 in the province of Groningen. With the construction of dykes, which started around 1200, people stopped building new earth elevations. By the 19th century, a total of 867 terps remained in both provinces, after which many more were excavated because of their fertile soil.

What is the goal of this project?

The project terpen- and wierden land: a story in development aims to revive the story of a unique, ancient landscape. Once the story is complete, it can be put to good use. On one side to maintain and enhance the characteristic structures of this landscape, by taking the unique characteristics of a terp or wierde into account when planning future developments. And on the other side, to attract the attention of residents and visitors and gain their interest for the history of this extraordinary region. Its unique history can be used as a tool for regional marketing and recreational developments. You can find more information on our page about the project.


  • Terpen- and wierden land, a story in development.