Nieuw-Namen

The village of Nieuw-Namen straddles the Belgian border in Eastern Zeeland-Flanders. Its name and fame are, mainly, thanks to the Pleistocene sand found here. Formerly known as Hulsterloo and Kauter, consecutively, the village still has several street names to remember its past by. At one time, a feisty fishing village with a 65-vessel fleet, it also dabbled in smuggling – as is the wont of borderlands – to bring in some guilders. Fishing made way for farming, in the end, as a result of land being poldered.

The village is now flanked by sea-clay polders on all sides, the nearby Hertogin Hedwige-polder (named for Duchess Hedwig) caused some heated debate. The land was meant to be given back to the sea, based on bilateral agreements between the Netherlands and Belgium. However, the idea itself provoked such turmoil, both pros and cons, that nothing has been resolved yet.

International fame reached the village thanks to the quarry ‘Meester van der Heijden’. It is in the village itself and something of a geological monument, for being the only spot in Europe where the transition from Pliocene to Pleistocene is visible. The layers of sand show off fossils which inhabited the seawater here, a million years ago. Go and look, a guide will show you the way.

Next to the quarry you will find the St. Joseph church, from 1860, though its towers dates from 1912. It is a neo-gothic building.

Due north of Nieuw-Namen is the so-called Drowned Land of Saeftinghe, an immense mudflat and marsh nature reserve. The visitors center allows you free reign, or you could meander along one of the routes. A real excursion requires a guide, book one through the Zeeuwse Landschap office.