Ostbense 1998

Benser-hof restaurant

After Esens, I drove over to Großholum and Ostbense, a few minutes' drive by car. This is a restaurant right by the Benser Siel.

Benser-hof sign

Here's a sign that lets you know you're in the Benser area. There's Ostbense and Westbense, and there's the Bensersiel.

All along the North Sea, huge dikes keep the water out. Rivers run into the sea, though, and the water must be allowed to run out through the dike. So they have a gate in the dike, called a Siel, which lets the water out when it's low tide but closes when the sea water comes up too high.

Benser fish nets

The Frisians, who are neither Dutch nor German nor Danish but a people all their own, lived in coastal areas from Holland all the way up into Denmark. (There is no country named Frisia today, but you'll find the North Frisian Islands off the coast of Denmark, East Frisia in Germany, and West Frisia in the Netherlands.) They specialized in reclaiming the marshes and farming them. Also, as you can imagine, in East Frisia I ate some mighty tasty fish.


This is the actual Bensersiel. As you can see, it's a gate to let the water in and out.

Benser boats and harbor

The view looking north from the Bensersiel. On the horizon are the islands of East Frisia, glorified sandbars that have towns on them and wander back and forth with sea currents from century to century. The land is quite flat, and at low tide, the marsh between here and the islands is dry enough that you can walk out to them in many places. (Wooden shoes are good equipment to have if you're going mucking out in the marsh, or watt, as it's called.) Inland, the land would be covered in water at high tide if not for the dikes. It's one long, very flat coastal plain.

Bensersieltor achtung!

Don't go past here--the machinery works automatically, and YOU COULD BE KILLED!

(This is where the siel gate goes up and down.)

Old Benser Siel gate

When they were dredging the harbor, they found the old siel gates, buried in the mud offshore.

Sieltor sign

of the old Benser Siel
1619 - 1891
These gates were found
by dike builders in 1967 east of

(These would have been in place when Tjerck de With came over to North America--wherever he came from.)

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