The Glockenwooj

When we look at the river meadow landscape of the Lower Rhine on a beautiful day, it gives a deceptively peaceful impression. In reality, the wide, level spaces with their pastures, pollarded trees and scattered bodies of water were exposed to the forces of the Rhine until 150 years ago. And it doesn't just course calmly, as Heine says in his poem "Loreley". Floods would change a whole area with devastating force within hours, so that it was barely recognisable afterwards. Some changes were so inexplicable that they are shrouded in spine-chilling tales to this day. The story goes that a church sank into the Glockewooj. The inhabitants of the area had become cocky and God sank the church with the sinners in the eerie water. If you threw a coin into the water you could still hear the bells toll. In actual fact, a "wooj" is a pothole. They are formed when dykes are breached. The water that churns through the gap burrows a hollow behind the breach. When the flood recedes, a new lake is left behind. This can be in a place where there was a beautiful farm, a stable or even a church just a week earlier. A good example of such a "wooj" can be found here near Rees. The Rhine chiselled through the dyke in a flood and burrowed out the pothole behind the breach. But the people of Rees did not recreate the old course of the dyke, they surrounded the new "wooj" with a new dyke that can still be clearly seen today. For a while it was even used as a swimming pool.

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