Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

June Books 15) Miradal: Erfgoed in Heverleebos en Meerdaalwoud

De geschiedenis van een bos en een landscap is het resultaat van samenwerking tussen verschillende vakgebieden. Voorjaarsbloemen en archeologisch erfgoed hangen bijvoorbeeld beide af van de bodem. Het verhaal van prachtig gekleurde loopkevers die 'gevangenzitten' in een oud bos omdat ze hun vliegvermogen verloren hebben, is een boeiende mengeling van biologie en geschiedenis.

The history of a woodland and a landscape is the result of cooperation between difference disciplines. For instance, spring flowers and archaeological monuments both depend on the soil. The story of beautifully coloured beetles, 'imprisoned' in the old woodland because they have lost the ability to fly, is a fascinating mixture of biology and history.

This is a big beautiful book about the woodland near our house, which I have already been using to locate nearby tumuli. Despite the gorgeous illustrations, it's not really a coffee-table book, with eight very carefully researched chapters about various aspects of the area's history and ecology. Given my own interests, I admit I found the geology and history more interesting than the biology bits (I have difficulty telling an oak from a rhododendron), but even so it was pretty interesting.

In particular, I love the idea of hidden landscapes; the first chapter on the geology drew my attention to things like the London-Brabant massif (here just the "Brabantse sokkel", but looking it up led me also to the lost continent of Avalonia) and the Diestian Sea. It's also interesting to reflect that the number of tumuli, both Bronze Age and Iron Age, and various other Gallo-Roman remains in the woods, all suggest that the woods themselves are a comparatively recent historical development and that much of the area was in fact agricultural in ancient times. Historical maps show the woods actually advancing over the last few centuries. (Ents? Triffids?)

It is, I'm afraid, all in Dutch, edited by Hans Baeté, Marc De Bie, Martin Hermy, Paul Van den Bremt and Sara Adriaenssens, and published by the Davidsfonds, as part of their wider project of promoting Flemish culture and heritage: a good example of this sort of thing.
Tags: bookblog 2013, world: belgium

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