Origins of Zaadstra Name

Origins of Zaadstra Name

My father often mentioned that the name of Zaadstra was old and it did not mean ‘seed’. He cited a copy of an old map of Bolsward (that is now in my possession) and pointed out the immediate country to the south-east of town. There is a mound or terp with the name Saard for the three farm dwellings. He said an older spelling of the name was Saerd.

On an inquiry about the name I quote the source: William Haanstra, “Bolsward in names”, ed. Banga Book Productions, Groningen, 2006.

“It’s a hamlet in the municipality of Bolsward that lies southeast of the town and it runs along the south of the motorway, A7. Parking lay-bys often refer to nearby hamlets and a traffic rest area is signed ‘Laad en Zaad’ and in the Frisian ‘Laerd en Saerd’. There are three farm houses over in the fields accessed by one laneway and another three farm houses are on the next laneway.

The names Laad en Zaad are corrupted over the centuries and they have a different origin than the current spelling would suggest.

Laad was originally called (Al) Laerd, meaning the mound (“erd” comes from was = mound) of a certain person Alla. This mound lies just outside the city of Bolsward, on the territory of the municipality Wymbritserdadiel.

Because in the course of time the ‘r’ in the name was omitted, the meaning of the name is not easily identified.

The same is true of Zaad. It was originally called Saerd, and can mean “a mound with (grass) turf reinforced” or, when the word is related to Old Frisian saeth = Sath, or pit, “a mound who was known for one or more wells.

Both names are corrupted over the centuries and have a different original meaning to what is generally thought to be their meaning now.


Origins of Zaadstra Name in Dutch

I quote the original source:

Laad en Zaad

Plaatsnaam: Bolsward

Type object: Buurtschap


De gemeente Bolsward omvat alleen de gelijknamige stad met daaromheen slechts een smalle strook buitengebied. De gemeente omvat naast de stad zelf slechts één buurtschap, en wel Laad en Zaad, gelegen rond de gelijknamige weg, in het zuidoosten van de gemeente, langs de A7.

Parkeerplaatsen langs snelwegen verwijzen vaak naar nabijgelegen buurtschappen, zo ook hier; de parkeerplaats alhier aan de A7 heet Laerd, waarmee men het huidige Laad bedoelt, dat oorspronkelijk Laerd heette. Zie hierna. De buurtschap Laad en Zaad is slechts 3 panden “groot”; huisnummers 1, 2 en 3.

Beide namen zijn in de loop der eeuwen verbasterd en hebben een andere oorsprong dan men op grond van de huidige schrijfwijze zou vermoeden. Laad heette oorspronkelijk (Al)Laerd, wat betekent de wierde (“erd” komt van werd = wierde) van een zekere persoon Alla. Deze wierde ligt overigens net buiten de gemeentegrens van Bolsward, op grondgebied van de gemeente Wymbritserdadiel. Doordat de r in de loop der tijd uit de naam is weggevallen, is de betekenis niet meer uit de huidige naam af te leiden.

Hetzelfde is het geval met Zaad. Dat heette oorspronkelijk Saerd, en kan betekenen “een wierde met (gras)zoden versterkt” of, wanneer het woord een relatie heeft met het Oudfriese sath of saeth = put, “een wierde die bekend stond om een of meerdere putten”.

(bron: Willem Haanstra, “Bolsward in namen”, uitg. Banga Book Productions, Groningen, 2006)

Here is an arial view of the land where the name Zaadstra comes from.

This picture is of the farms where the name Zaadstra originated.
(Both pictures courtesy of Google Maps.)

Origins of ‘stra’ in Zaadstra Name

The ‘stra’ ending means to originate from somewhere. Those who have the name Zaadstra come from the ‘mound’ or ‘terp’ Zaad near Bolsward, Frisia.

An artificial dwelling hill is called terp (plural terpen). Terp means “village” in Old Frisian and is cognate with English thorp, Danish torp, German Dorf and Dutch dorp. The better word for these mounds would therefore be wierde or Wurt, but terp has become the predominant term.

Historical Frisian settlements were built on artificial terpen up to 15 m height to be safe from the floods in periods of rising sea levels. The first terp-building period dates from 500 BC, the second from 200 BC to 50 BC. In the mid 3rd century, the rise of sea level was so dramatic that the clay district was deserted, and settlers returned only around AD 400. A third terp-building period dates from AD 700 (Old Frisian times). This ended with the coming of the dike somewhere around 1200. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many terps were destroyed to use the fertile soil they contained to fertilize farm fields. Terpen were usually well fertilized by the decay of the rubbish and personal waste deposited by their inhabitants during centuries.

The town is founded on three artificial dwelling hills, of which the first was built some time before Christ. Bolsward was a trading city with a port in the Middle Ages. The middlesea connected the port to the North Sea, but this connection was lost when the middlesea was reclaimed from the sea. As a trading city, Bolsward received city rights in 1455. Bolsward was also a member of the Hanseatic league.


The renowned Frisian poet and writer Gysbert Japicx lived at Bolsward, 1603–1666.

The inaugural art award called the ‘Gysbert Japicx Tekenwedstriid’ was won by Pieter Zaadstra in 1966.

Variation on the names Laad en Zaad appear on facsimiles of early maps in my possession. They are ‘Saerd’, ‘Zaard’, ‘Saard’, ‘Zaerd’, ‘Laard’, ‘Laerd’.

Sometimes my father signed his painting with the name ‘Saerdstra’. I used it myself infrequently in the 1970s because we worked together and discussed the ‘terp’ building time around AD700 when the name popped up according to him. My father had a strong opinion about Frisian history and its culture and language, studying under Professor De Vries after the Second World War.

edited 30th May 2017

Link to Bolsward

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