The Wissel Ring Dyke

All-round protection

The entire old heart of Wissel is surrounded by this dyke which therefore bears the self-explanatory name "Ringdeich" (Ring Dyke). It dates back to the first stronghold that the lords of Wissel established here for the earls of Kleve in the 11th century. The Wissels were servants of the earls - knights - and were entrusted with the task of asserting the power of the earls even in the previously almost uninhabited Rhine meadows. It is possible that the first attempts by individual farmers to make economic use of these river meadows were successful during this time. The powerful earl would not have missed out on that. Be that as it may, his knights built a permanent house on an island here - the origin of Wissel House. A knight's house was more like a very big farm or a small village. In addition to the residence there were farm buildings, stabling, barns and houses for the many dependent labourers. This settlement had to be protected against the moods of the river and for this reason it was surrounded by the ring dyke that can still be seen today. Take a walk around it, then you will have a good idea of the size of such knights' farms. Over time, the village of Wissel developed from this nucleus, which still bears testimony to its origins with the ring dyke. In fact, the dyke was still part of the dyke warden's territory, and thus flood protection, until as recently as 2012, as can be seen from the slide-in barrier modules at the road culverts. However, it had long lost its original importance. After all, it was built with a very different flood protection purpose. Because the ring dyke protected only what was worth protecting at the time it was built. The river meadow remained untouched. We have different methods today and try to intercept the flood water at the banks of the Rhine as much as possible. But the ring dyke is also a reminder of alternative method of dealing with the threat of Rhine floods.

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