People were already living in the area surrounding the Wadden Sea during the early Stone Age. They lived in the high-lying geest, where they were safe from storm surges. The first farms were built at the end of the Bronze Age, and villages gradually grew up around them. Therefore, most of the buildings along the Wadden Sea have roots thousands of years in the past, and Ribe was already a marketplace for the surrounding area in the 8th century.
The Middle Ages
During the 13th century, farms were built on natural moraine knolls in the salt marshes, and later on manmade embankments, the so-called værfter. Today, there are 60 mounds in the Wadden Sea area, and one of the earliest mound areas is located by Ved Åen in Tøndermarsken, where ten farms were once situated. Most mounds are only home to a single farm, but the villages of Udbjerg and Rudbøl are located on village mounds. The northernmost buildings located on a mound in the Wadden Sea area made up the village of Misthusum in Ballummarsken. The village was founded in the 13th century but was destroyed by storm surges in 1634 and 1720. Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, the village was abandoned but the mounds still dot the landscape. The market towns of Tønder and Varde were established in the Middle Ages next to large navigable streams. Before the dykes were built, Tønder had easy access to the sea, while Varde depended on the quays at Janderup, Hjerting and Ho.
From half-timbered buildings to foundation walls
Since the 18th century, houses built on foundation walls, i.e. brick houses, have become common in the Wadden Sea area. Brick building construction began in Holland and spread up to the Wadden Sea area, especially after the storm surge in 1634. However, fires also destroyed many of the half-timbered buildings from the Middle Ages, particularly in Varde. In the 18th century, the Schlewswig farmhouse style became widespread in the Wadden Sea area in Southern Jutland.