Location: Nagele is east of Urk, in the Zuiderzee
The Zuiderzee in the middle ages was a different creature than it is now, or was even a hundred yearrs ago. Changing water levels turned long, large islands into a string of smaller ones, including Urk, Nagele and Schokland. In more recent years, extensive reclaiming of land has turned these areas into polders, and more recent still disastrous flooding has reclaimed this land again, to the sea.
Nagele was a seperate and inhabited island roughly between the fifth century and the thirteenth century. Beyond the thirteenth century the only reference to Nagele (until it was turned into polderland) is of “de Nagel”, a stony shallows where nets were reported shredded and strange things were fished up, including a church altar. The area was also called the graveyard of Urk.
Nagele was a good and god-fearing community, tough, like all those that lived so close to the unpredictable sea. They built in stone, including their church, which the citizens of Nagele consecrated to the Virgin Mary. One day, a white stone statue washed ashore. Recognising it as Mary, they placed it in their church. For a while it seemed a blessed island. The worst storms would blow over, and while there was always flooding, it never reached the buildings around the church, where the land was highest.
Some people, however, felt envy. Especially those who lived farther from the church, who were perhaps not quite so loyal to the faith of the Virgin. These people disliked the statue, and called the other islanders blind, for the Virgin was not praying, she was weeping. They were tempted by the dark powers of the seas, and in the dark of night, they made their plans to unseat Nagele’s silent queen.
When the moon was dark, they crept up the island and to the church. Like the sea, however, they could not climb the slope. Every step they took landed in mud, sliding them back in their tracks. Every step forward was a step into a wall of freezing fog, heavy on the shoulders and blinding to the eyes.
It was then that a young man called down from the top of the hill. He asked the conspirators what they were doing and they said; “We are freeing this island from its evil influence, to give it back to its rightful master.” The man asked them who their master was and they answered: “Our master is that which lies beneath.” The man asked them what their reward would be and, as one, they answered: “Nothing at all but the light of knowledge in our eyes and our darkest desires. And this will be yours if you help us.”
The young man was tempted. He opened the doors of the church and as the light came streaming down from the altar, the conspirators were freed from the mists. They ran up the hill and torn down the statue. Immediately, a violent storm rose on all sides, and rain poured down on Nagele.
The island was drowned in a single night, but some of its inhabitants survived. Where the village and the church had been, nothing remained but rocks and steeples, sharps points tearing the nets of fishermen who dares sail the cursed water.
But that, of course, is only a legend.