Of sunken lanes

The Sunken Lane by Stanley Berkeley

The dog took us for a walk out in the potato fields around Berthem this morning. We enjoyed truly glorious weather (dare I hope that we get an Indian summer to compensate for the horrors of July and August?), but all around the farmers have been repairing the damage done by the unseasonally heavy rain and the sunken lanes seem to have sunk a little further. Sunken lanes – of which there are so many in the countryside around Brussels because of the sandy soil – fascinate me. They are as much an indication of human activity and effort as, say, a dry stone wall in the Alps. They have also played a significant part in a number of battles. Perhaps most notoriously, sunken lanes and roads played key roles in the Battle of Waterloo, one running along a ridge serving as a protected communication line for Wellington, and another running across the battlefield which acted as a funnel that trapped Napoleon’s cuirassiers with disastrous consequences. This is how the wiki entry describes the moment: ‘The Household Brigade crossed the crest of the Allied position and charged downhill. The cuirassiers guarding d’Erlon’s left flank were still dispersed, and so were swept over the deeply sunken main road and then routed. The sunken lane acted as a trap which funnelled the flight of the French cavalry to their own right, away from the British cavalry. Some of the cuirassiers then found themselves hemmed in by the steep sides of the sunken lane, with a confused mass of their own infantry in front of them, the 95th Rifles firing at them from the north side of the lane, and Somerset’s heavy cavalry still pressing them from behind.’

1 Comment

  1. Hugo Kijne

    Do you have a lot of Indians in Berthem?

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