Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

Drowned village in the Schelde Delta

Visualizing a drowned village in virtual reality

In the past centuries many Zeeland villages/communities have been lost during and after storm floods. This has led to the characteristic Zeelandic phenomenon of the 'drowned' villages, remains of human houses on the tidal flats of the Scheldt estuary. Although these remnants suggest the sudden and dramatic demise of an entire village, the reality is less dramatic. Flooding often led to an economic decline of the communities because local agricultural productivity collapsed. Because of the floods, the land around the village changed from an agricultural area to a tidal landscape. Furthermore, there was a shift to an economy driven by maritime activities such as fisheries.

In collaboration with Provincie Zeeland, we are currently developing a virtual tour of the changes that occur during the ‘drowning’ of a village in the 16th century. The virtual tour will be based on 3D visualizations of the village before, just after and quite some time after the flood and is based on the exploitation of marine ecosystems such as oyster and mussel beds, as was done in parts of Zeeland (for example in the submerged parts of Zuid-Beveland, east of Yerseke). We plan to have the tour finished in the summer of 2021, but you can already have a first look here (click the red 3D tool button in the image).

The virtual tour is developed in collaboration with the Unesco Global Geopark, Schelde Delta as part of the communication to stakeholders and the general public.  The project is financed by Corona subsidy of ‘Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen’ (SMF), with contributions from the Province of Zeeland and the Municipality of Reimerswaal