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Channeling and containing seas and waterways a necessity for the Lowlands

Surnames containing dyk showcase Dutch heritage

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

Channeling water has been a challenge for the Lowlands ever since nomadic tribes settled in the river estuaries thousands of years ago. To channel water is easy in one way since it runs to the lowest point. To channel it in a way so it flows where it causes the least trouble is another matter.

Lowlanders created numerous dikes and water barriers throughout the centuries, which have left footprints all over the landscape, especially in the low lying regions of the country. Dutch people do appreciate dikes but often fail to grasp the full extent of their long association with them. To the vast majority of the Dutch a dike is a dike, but it takes a bit of study to realize that dikes have various shapes and functions, in fact they have different characteristics as do cars, roses, shoes and hair styles.

The Dutch use a range of terms to describe water barriers, often suggesting a variation on the function of the dike. Few Dutch people would be familiar with the term bandijk. The syllable ban refers to certain maintenance duties of the owners of the dike's adjoining properties and legally regulated oversight. An in-depth study of this is outside the purview of this article, but it generally concerns older river dikes and barriers. Not every bandijk has retained its original role. Today, some are no more than an elevated road through low lying meadows or swamp land. Other such water barriers may still serve a secondary barrier function while again others have been retained largely as a cultural heritage object. It seems that the Terwoldse Bandijk and the Appense or Veluwsche Bandijk fit the latter category.

At the other end of the development of Dutch diking and water barrier knowhow is the ijkdijk, a very recent term which points to weighing results, researching effect and studying methods. A Dutch ijkdijk works with sensors which relay signals via GPS systems to computers that can automatically set off emergency procedures and warn authorities and other stakeholders. The ijkdijk research received much publicity in the past few years, including news images and television clips showing how a small dike section was subjected to a heavy water flow to generate data for the study.

Dyk in surnames

It must be stressed that these surnames were all gleaned from the Vanderheide address bank and therefore have become part of the North American scene. Some continue to use the Dutch spelling conventions with the ij instead of the more numerous y used in the English speaking world. It is certain that a similar Dutch list would be far more extensive: Dyk, Dyks, van Dyk, van Dijken, Binnendyk, Beugelsdyk, Bobeldyk, Breedyk, Brondyk, Buitendyk/Buytendyk, Bydedyk/Bydendyk, Drydyk, (van) Duivendyk/Duyvendyk, Dykema, Dykens/Dykers, Dykgraaf, Dykhof, Dykhouse/Dykhuis/Dykhuizen/Dykehouse, Dykink, Dykman/Dykerman, Dykshoorn/Dykxhoorn, Dykslag, Dyksterhuis/Dyksterhouse, Dykstra, Dykwel, Dykzeul, Greendyk, Groenedyk/Groenendyk, Haasdyk, Hoekendyk, Hoogendyk/Hoogerdyk, Hordyk, and many more (mentioned in the article of which a copy can be ordered by contacting the Windmill Herald.)

The majority of the above surnames pinpoint their origin to a very specific dyk or point, even though there are more than one location with a Ysseldyk. There are two rivers called Yssel, one running west in South Holland and the more prominent one running north through Gelderland and Overijssel. Both rivers have a dike on each side, narrowing down the search significantly. To establish where the Lagendyk (low dike) or Hoogendyk (high dike) was may take a bit more effort, since it suggests a dyke with a certain characteristic.

Some of the above surname could also have been derived from a list of place names. There are scores of hamlets, villages and towns with the syllable dijk in their name. In fact the list runs so many pages that listing them is not practical.

Much, much more could be added to the above but for now it is best to conclude that the dyk is a solidly Dutch landscape feature which plays an extremely important role in the existence of the Netherlands as a country. That this web of Dutch landscape features has given so many Dutch clans their family identity is not at all surprising.

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