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  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Rescuing the farm where Wellington won the battle of Waterloo

    In an isolated corner of bucolic Belgium, down a dusty track that cuts through great fields of lettuce and shivering wheat, stands the farm that won Waterloo. Of the 170,000 people who visit the battlefield each year, few find their way to this particular spot. Fat wood pigeons coo undisturbed from the crumbling walls. The view across the miles of rolling fields over which Napoleon launched waves of attacks, is unspoilt by any building. The only sound of modern life is the faint roar of a motorway, hidden by a bank of trees.Hougoumont is largely unchanged from where, on Sunday June 18, 1815, it was the centre of action throughout the Battle of Waterloo. Of the tens of thousands who died that day, 6,500 men were killed, or suffered terrible injuries, at Hougoumont. Many were dumped in a mass grave there to deter thieves....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Medieval monks drained wetlands to build

    A medieval monastery in Belgium went to major effort to drain wetlands on its land, building structures on artificially raised soil, a new study finds.Archaeologists excavated the Boudelo Abbey, once part of the medieval county of Flanders, in the 1970s. Until now, however, they had no idea that an extensive drained wetland surrounded the site. "They placed these abbeys in all sorts of marginal areas to cultivate," said study researcher Philippe De Smedt, a soil scientist at Ghent University in Belgium. In the High Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries, Europe's population was growing, De Smedt told LiveScience. Monk labor provided a solution to the crowding by making the land livable.... 

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Belgian train museum has hard time getting on track

    SCHAERBEEK, Belgium—This country built continental Europe's first railway line in 1835 and still boasts the world's densest rail network. Belgians ran the world's longest passenger train, which had 70 cars. This country the size of Maryland even has five vintage railways, run by enthusiasts.What Belgium lacks is a national train museum. Officials couldn't agree on where to put it.Now, 178 years after "Le Belge" puffed 15 miles from Brussels to Mechelen, the project has a green light. Work has started just outside Brussels on Train World, which is scheduled to open next year....