Dutch Folklore Wikia
A picture from 2003 showing the remains of Westenschouwen
A picture from 2003 showing the remains of Westenschouwen
Province Zeeland

Westenschouwen (not to be confused with Westerschouwen) was but a small vilage on the coast of Zeeland. It was said the village once caught a mermaid, but an accompanied merman begged to let her go. This is something the fishermen were not prepared to do. Struck with grief and great anger, the merman cursed the village of Westenschouwen which was soon after swallowed by the sands around the year 1500[1]. The church tower that was broken down in 1845 was the only part left of an otherwise invisible village[2][3]. However, starting 1800, other pieces of Westenschouwen reappeared on the beach and in 1911 J. A. Hubregtse writes of stone wells and fundaments becoming visible among all sorts of other things. More parts of the village were naturally uncovered during the 20th century and in 2003 and 2011 the village became briefly accessible through the process of beach nourishment. In current times the village of Westenschouwen still exists, albeit further away from the coast. The story became wildly popular, with the region of Schouwen-Duiveland portraying the Merman and Mermaid on their shield[4].

The Story[]

An old legend from the 15th century[5] speaks of a town in Zeeland called Westenschouwen, where one of the fisherman had caught a mermaid in his nets. She was taken aboard unwillingly where the fishermen ridiculed her and planned to bring her ashore for everyone to see. A merman rose above the waves and kindly asked the fishermen to free her, for she would surely die outside the water. But as much as he begged them, they were not interested in releasing such a unique catch. The merman followed them into the harbor, but the townsfolk wouldn't listen to him. They answered his call by throwing rocks at him. Furiously, the merman punched the waves to foam. He preached a bad omen over the people of Westenschouwen in the form of a verse and soon the village was cursed.

The fishermen of Westenschouwen catch a mermaid in their nets.

Westerschouwen, Westerschouwen,
het zal je berouwen
dat je genomen hebt mijn vrouwe!
Westerschouwen, daarom zul je vergaan.
Alleen je toren zal blijven staan!

The weather changed for the worse and the harbor silted. The rich became poor and the sands drifted through town, destroying entire buildings in the process. Soon enough, the whole town was covered in sand, and all that was left of Westenschouwen was a lonely little tower, protruding from the sand.

Similar Stories[]

Several villages in Zeeland met the same fate and tell of stories similar to the one of Westenschouwen. So too did the story travel to Koudekerke. Similarly their Plompe Toren was a tower that partially sank beneath the sand. Of course this wasn't where the story originated, but inhabitants do like to believe so[6]. The story of Saeftinghe was almost identical to the story of Westenschouwen, save for the fact that the sea broke through their dykes and sank their city beneath the ocean waves[7]. Other such stories reportedly could be found in Veere, Bath and Reimerswaal[8].