The sea is full of mysteries and once and a while it suddenly decides to give up one of them. In the outskirts of Buren, towards the Northern parts of Nes, a "pile of blackened wood" is laying in the fields. Well no, look closer and discover that it has the form of the lower part of a ship. on the 8th of January 1991 this was washed upon the shores near beachpole 19.4 After archeological research it seemed to be a shipwreck from a "Kofschip" that dated back to the 19th century. These ships traded goods from the French coasts towards the Scandinavian islands. According to the wood that was used on this one, it obviously has a Danish home harbour.
Just curious what the sea will uncover next?
In Buren is the fourth museum of Ameland and it shows two sides of the life of centuries ago. First the agricultural ways of living: farmhouses, cattlefarming and everything that was going on to grow food or create the bases for milk and meat, as well as woole. This however often was not enough to make a living and many farmers also added with the "Jutterij". As in the story of Rixt, this was making a profit from things that the sea washed uopn the shores. The law then still told "finders keepers" and so when a storm had shipwrecked a few boats on the North sea, the load was a welcomed gift from the sea to many Amelanders. This "dark" side of the island society is also well explaned in this museum.
Rixt was a woman that lived in the silent dunes of "Het Oerd" on Ameland, together with her son Sjoerd. They lived poorly, but in peace with their world, from the stuff the sea granted them by washing it up on the beach. When Sjoerd grew up his urge to set sail grew with every year, though Rixt always made him clear that the dangers were numerous out there in open waters. Still, Sjoerd couldn't stay and one day choose to go on board of a traders ship as shipmate. Rixt, left behind alone and unhappy, turned against the sea that - as she cried out - "took her everytgiung". Since her hatred grew, less and less stuff washed upon the shores and lead to further hate against the sea. At one day, a storm was building up, she decided to help faith a hand. Whispering "if the sea doesn;t want to give, I'll have to take it myself" she went on top of the highest dune with a stormlight (a candle within a glass housing). Storm was raging over the waves and dark clouds dangerously packed together in the skies, while she was veroshisly waving her lamp. A captain of a boat saw the light and immediately steered towards the light, which he supposed was a safe harbour. The ship stranded on a sandbank and the storm and waves took it apart. Night fell ...
Next day, Rixt walked over the shore, gathering the ships pieces and load that was scattered all over the beaches. Suddenly she saw a body laying in the water and curiosly she came closer. Then she cried out in fear and distress. The young man that drowned was her own son Sjoerd and in a flash it went through her "the sea is taking again". Her soul was doomed.
Even now-a-days Rixt can be heared when fierce storms are raging over the island of Ameland, calling out her sons name "Sjoe-oe-oerd ... Sjoe-oe-oerd".
An area of exquisit beauty and very special flora and fauna is "Het Oerd". This national nature reservat can be visited individually as well as in a guided tour. The last offers you a better explanation of the specific plants and species that grow and live here. In summertime the landscape is turning purple as for a blossoming bush that gives many flowers. "Het Oerd" is a place where salt and sweet water continuously meet with the roling of the tides. Eastern parts of the reservat are restricted as they form the breeding colonies of many seabirds.
Just East of Nes lays the small village Buren, now-a-days surrounded by large hotel chains, bungalow parcs and other touristic facilities. The village is the most Eastern settlement of significance and borders enormous dune terrains going around 10 kilometers Eastwards still. Part of these dunes are reservat and breeding colonies for seagulls and other seabirds. A long bikingpath encluoses the area from which several walkingroutes start and return. One of the most beautiful parts of these dunes is "Het Oerd".
One of the most wonderful dune area's of Ameland that is quite close to the inhabited world is the "Roosduinen" reservate just North Of the village of Ballum. This area is aclled "Roosduinen" after the bushes of the dune-rose that are present here everywhere. This special plant produces tiny little roses that become berries that one can actually eat. Locals used to make a jam out of them. The place also has a few sweet water bassins that attract many birds for nesting.
In Ballum once the catsle of the family Van Cammingha used to rule over the island. Their house was the most powerful, but diminished in the 1681, after which Ameland is sold to the Frysian ruler Johan Willem Friso. The castle slowly fell apart and eventually disappered as the stones were sold to Terschelling for coastal defense. Ballum became more and more in the shade of Nes and Hollum and that is still to be seen when going through the village. Almost no commandeurs houses, but large farms to the left and right of the main road.
In recent times the province decided again to place the community hall in Ballum and "power" returned as a seat there. It's also simply because the village is the most central on the island.
Halfway the village, across the street from the Ballumet bell tower, one sees a small modest building that houses the third Baptist church of Ameland. It is - like always - simple and built as a hall where people can gather to pray and listen to the reverant's speeches: the word from God and out of the Bible.
Outside Ballum in the wide open polder fields where black and white (Holland-Frysian) cows are grazing, is a large farmhouse that welcomes all visitors to taste cheese and see how it is actually made. This can be quite interesting for those who want to know the secrets of the famous Dutch cheeses. Ameland cheese has however a very significant taste as it is slightly more salty then other cheeses. For sure that has something to do with the sea air that runs over the island.
Ballum is in agriculture the most active of the four villages. The others have turned to tourism and Ballum actually not that strong. However, the active or extreme sports will almost all start in this central place at Ameland as Ballum holds the airport in it's wide fields. From here parachute jumps are possible (see sports-tips).
Though the power was disappearing from Ballum a certain differnt importance came back in recent times. When the horse pulled rescueing ships from Hollum were outdated and the new fast motorised ships needed a more central place on the island, one choose the Ballumer Bocht (the Ballum Bent) as home station. A long pier with the super fast ships is visible from the dike and can also be visited up close.
On the same dike there is a monument for other safety agents, the dike watch. These volunteers that keep an eye on the dike during the fiercest storms to act immediately if there would be something wrong with the last defense against the sea water.
Again this is not a churchtower, but a beaken for the ships at sea as well as a place where the bells were hung that told the time and were ringing hard when alarm was given before storm of floadings that endangered the village. It was built in 1755 to replace the initial wooden tower. Above the door used to be the weapon of the Van Cammingha family that ruled Ameland in ancient times from Ballum. The French destroyed this feodale sign when they occupied The Netherlands in Napoleontic times.