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'Artist impression' of Leffinge in a natural tidal landscape before dike building (10th century AD), © Middelkerke

5000 years of coastal evolution

The Flemish coast has a long and complex history. The modern landscape is the result of the interaction between both natural processes and human interventions. Although research into the history of this region has already provided us with a lot of information, many detailed questions still remain, for example, exactly how the coastline evolved over the past 5000 years.

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The Testerep project


Gain insight into how our coastline has evolved over the past 5000 years, through state of the art interdisciplinary scientific research

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With the use of computer modeling, we'll resurrect Testerep and learn about the human and natural impact on the landscape.

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Who are our stakeholders? How will they apply our research results? Which valorization projects are planned?

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Testerep research presented at Heritage Café in Middelkerke

On 28 October 2023, Coastal Heritage will host the 3rd edition of its Heritage Café. This year, the networking event will take place at ‘De Branding’ in Middelkerke. You can expect an afternoon with a mix of lectures, workshops and guided tours. Under the title 'Testerep: searching for traces of the lost coastal island', Soetkin Vervust (VUB) and Ruth Plets (VLIZ) will give the opening lecture. After (and in between) the break-out sessions, there will be time for a drink and networking in the Heritage Café. Register at


Metal detectorists uncovering Testerep

Over the past few days, the VUB archaeology team received the much-appreciated help of a whole host of metal detectorists during their fieldwork in Westende. Together they are searching for traces of human presence in the flood plain of the former Testerep gully, to better understand when exactly the gully was embanked and the land became suitable for agriculture and habitation. This citizen science project will run till the end of the year.

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Audio story Katrien Vervaele

The Testerep peninsula and its demise touches many: guides, theatre makers, journalists, coastal inhabitants ... It also inspired Katrien Vervaele, author and coastal lover with a big 'C'. Katrien was eager to write a book about this medieval drama and wanted to take the necessary time to do so. Unfortunately, she was not granted that luxury, and embraced the limited time she had left to write a haunting short story, starring Testerep and its inhabitants. 

Her friend Nancy Zwaenepoel transformed the text into a breathtaking audio story. The agreement was to publish it only after Katrien's passing.

The result: a tribute to Katrien, an audio story diving into the mysteries of our coast, a story of connection. Listen for yourself! 

With music from 'The Drowned Ballads of Testerep' by TG Vagevuur, composed by Peter Spaepen and performed by Elisabeth De Loore on the piano. Audio story edited by Bart De Smet (VLIZ) as part of the project 'Testerep: 5000 years of coastal evolution'.

Listen to the story on Soundcloud (in dutch)