This type of house is an American invention, from Newfoundland. It was later imported to British and Norwegian coastlines, and then to the Wadden islands in the Netherlands and Germany. This house on Terschelling was built in 1863 on the Boschplaat, destroyed by a storm in 1962 and rebuilt in 1999 as a heritage site. After a number of storms, the house was moved to a new location, near beach post 23.500. Author Cor Bruijn noted in his book Arjen: “A violent storm rages and snarls around the cabin, and pounds the walls with its bleak bones… The earth shakes to its very core.” In the light of that violence, the small hut stands for a warm welcome. ‘The door is always open’ is a way of life for people living on the coast. The ‘house of an unknown inhabitant’ is a trope in international nautical literature.
Adriaen Coenen (1514-1587)
Coenens’ book of fish (~1580) is a prime example: it is encyclopedia, bestiary, a description of the sea, and all that in a beautiful mix of prose and image. It’s an artist’s book from before that term existed. A collection of animals, some seen with his own eyes, others based on stories or spawned from pure imagination. Some of the book is copied from other sources, like his contemporary Olaus Magnus (1490-1577). Coenen also knew about the Mermaid, the temptress siren, the dangerous female figures who would strand ships to rob the bounty – a story old as the sea. Is it underwater nonsense? No. Coenen categorized the creatures of the sea in his own way. It is up to the reader to decipher this classification. Together with his contemporary Pierre Belon (1517-1564), Coenen established a rich tradition of books about birds, fish, and jellyfish. His excellent drawings were replicated by scientists of note, such as Alexander von Humboldt, Ernst Haeckel and others.