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Over the centuries, Texel has developed from an island mostly dependent on fishing and agriculture to an island with a flourishing island economy, where tourism is the main industry.
The first inhabitants were not yet able to protect themselves from the sea through dikes. Consequently, they settled on boulder clay deposits, the higher parts of the landscape. Much later, the villages of Den Burg, De Waal, Den Hoorn, Oosterend and De Westen originated in these areas.
In the 13th century, De Westen was the most important village on Texel. It was connected to the North Sea via a channel. When this silted up in the 14th century, the villagers moved to Den Hoorn and De Koog. The Torenhuis in Westerweg is the only remaining house in this village. The lower parts of Texel still flooded regularly.
To keep the sea at a distance, dams were built between the higher areas, which resulted in the creation of both a weir and a connection between these areas. Areas of land which only flooded during high water were diked in. Back then, these small polders were called ‘cooghen’.
The very lowest of the small dikes of these first land reclamations disappeared in time and sometimes made way for roads, Oude Dijkje in De Koog, for instance. In places where the sea would breach the small dikes, so-called walen were created. These deep pools, such as Wegeswaal near Waalenburgerdijkje, are remnants of old dike breaches.
In the early 17th century, dune formation was actively encouraged through the introduction of reed screens and the planting of marram grass. As a result, the separate little island of Eierland eventually became connected to Texel. Today, the sea continues to be a threat to the Texel dunes. Violent northwest storms regularly cause dozens, sometimes hundreds, of metres of dune to disappear into the sea. The dunes are protected through the planting of marram grass, beach nourishment and longitudinal dikes.
During beach nourishment works, sand is pumped from the sea and deposited onto the beach. Since the seventies, Rijkswaterstaat has been carrying out beach nourishment works to avoid coastal erosion.
Want to learn more about the origin of Texel? Visit the interesting exhibition on the history of Texel at Ecomare!