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Southern Frisian village celebrates 600th anniversary

Ancestors hunted reindeer

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

NIJEHOLTPADE, the Netherlands - Just because the Northern Dutch village of Nijeholtpade (a derivative of Nijeholenpath, ‘new path through the dip’) has the word Nije (new) in its name, does not mean the place does not have a long history. This year, the southern Frisian village of 430 people is celebrating its 600th anniversary.

Researchers found the earliest reference to Nijeholtpade in records from 1399. Villagers used the entry as the key date for their anniversary although the origin of Nijeholtpade - the name is actually more Saxon than Frisian - may well go back further. Nearby, also northeast of Wolvega, lies Oldeholtpade which traces its origin back to 1204.

Both villages belong to the municipality of Weststellingwerf, which with Ooststellingwerf once was part of the neighbouring province of Drenthe. Wedged between the Frisian lowlands to the north and Overijssel to the south, the Stellingwerven were often a battle zone for competing forces which tried to increase territory, and long were semi-independent as a farmers’ republic.

The oldest known occupation in Nijeholtpade may be a surprise. Villagers proudly refer to ancestors being reindeer hunters, and placed figures embodying reindeer hunters along the road to accentuate the festive atmosphere.

The earliest structure to survive in historic Nijeholtpade is the local Reformed church.