Volcano of PiroyToday we had an annual gathering of friends close to Namur. After a sumptuous lunch, we staggered out into the countryside for a walk. Our hosts took us to an interesting site called the Volcano of Piroy. It’s an old water-filled quarry. It and the surrounding woodland are now classified as a protected site because of some interesting flora and fauna, including several rare breeds of dragonfly. It’s dubbed the ‘volcano’ because the shape of the – truly volcanic – rocks gives a vague impression of being inside a crater. The local council has put up information panels and from these I learnt that the reddish volcanic rock was quarried for the local porcelain industry. The rocks were hauled in miners’ trucks up the hill and down into the Sambre valley, to a porcelain factory, where they were crushed into a powder and then used to make the distinctive porcelain. The whole area now is lush countryside, dotted with converted quarrymen’s cottages. The quarry shut down in the 1950s, and there is now no sign of the thriving industry that once existed. Not for the first time, I was struck by how the views we have of our ‘countrysides’ are, in many cases, a recent phenomenon, the result of a process of de, or dis, industrialisation.