Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Tumuli near Landen

I decided to try B on something a bit different on our Sunday outing today; just the other side of where she lives is a significant concentration of Gallo-Roman tumuli, and I thought it would be nice to see if I could explore them with her, armed with the GPS coordinates from Francophone Wikipedia.

Actually the first set is just this side of where she lives, just around the corner of the Church of Our Lady of the Stone: the Three Tumuli (or "Drie Tommen") of Grimde came fifth in a national TV contest for attractive archaeological monuments worth saving, and there is a ceremonial website to prove it, and a sign at the entrance to their enclosure:



At least one of these was constructed as the tomb for the second-century nobleman Marcus Probius Burrus, of whom the only thing that is known is that he was buried here. The shadows of the trees behind me make an attractive foreground to the mounds (third one dimly visible on the right):



Then I struck out east with B, towards the neighbouring town of Landen whose outskirts include no fewer than four tumuli, all of which I hoped to find. This takes us immediately through the village of Neerwinden, site of horrible battles in July 1693 and March 1793, which seems awfully bad luck.



The locals don't seem to have made much of the historical circumstances, which I guess may be partly that it wasn't really their war in either case; the 1693 battle was between William of Orange (recently King of England, three years after the Boyne) and the French, who beat him though Sarsfield was killed, and the 1794 battle between the French, who lost this time, and the Austrians, who won despite being numerically the smaller force.

In the 1793 battle the tumulus of nearby Middelwinden, also thought to date from the second century and excavated in 1864 and 1873, was used as both fortification and target, for obvious reasons:



B is not really one for history but did show an interest in local agriculture:



Not very much further down that road you come to the Tumulus of Pippin of Landen, who was Charlemagne's great-grandfather apparently, set in a nice little park which we are told was the heart of the family estate:



We had actually visited here in March. Perhaps remembering the brambles, B declined to get out of the car but I got a decent enough picture of the mound itself:



Bear in mind of course the that actual mound isn't defined by the treeline but by the earth that the trees are growing from.

Once again the little museum was closed but I got a shot through the window, here enhanced to show the foundations of the basilica of St Gertrude:



Next up was the Bortom of Walsbets, also supposedly from the second century, but used as an artillery emplacement by the Belgian army in the period between the two World Wars (for all the good it did them). I didn't realise (due to GPS inadequacy) that there is actually a road running right past it, so took this picture from some distance away and drove on:



And turning round the next corner encountered a gathering of model aeroplane enthusiasts:



Our final stop for the day was the Plattetombe of Waasmont, which is way bigger than the others - 77 metres by 59, and 11 metres high. It has never been excavated, but I think it is significant that even today it is within a hundred metres of the provincial border between Flemish Brabant and Hainault. B condescended to walk towards it with me, and seemed to have enjoyed the outing, a pleasure in her own secret world:



And so home after a longer and more varied excursion than usual.
Tags: life: family, megaliths, world: belgium
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