Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Belgian farmer moves stone, accidentally changes 200-year-old border with France

Napoleon fleeing Waterloo—a battle that could’ve been avoided if his army just moved some stones around.
Napoleon fleeing Waterloo—a battle that could’ve been avoided if his army just moved some stones around.

A Belgian farmer has just accidentally started the lowest stakes invasion of another country we’ve ever heard of. Presumably annoyed over having to work around a stone border marker set in a field, the farmer dug up and moved the marker, inadvertently expanding the nation of Belgium—and shrinking France—by about seven feet.

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As The New York Times reports, the out-of-place stone was discovered by French locals who, in a move that sounds suspiciously like covert French intelligence activity, have spent “the past few years [wandering] the countryside ... following the border and checking each marker they encountered against a map showing the stone’s original locations.” Near Bousignies-sur-Roc, France, a member of this group of hiker/surveyors noticed that one marker “was raised up on higher ground” instead of being “placed in a very precise manner” like the others.

The farmer who moved the stone, which has been in place since the 1820 Treaty Of Kortrijk set the border’s placement following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, hasn’t provided comment on when or how he moved the marker. “It is unclear whether the farmer knew the significance of the stone, which has 1819 carved into its face,” the Times writes.

A local Belgian official commented that the farmer “made Belgium larger and France smaller; that’s not a good idea.” He also said that he was “happy” to have a bigger town but that the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc—which may, we guess, need to change its name now that it’s not really on a rock anymore—”didn’t agree.”

Rather than use the stone’s movement as an excuse to drag the world into a new, nightmarish global war, the farmer has been formally instructed to put the marker back or “face criminal charges.” The farmer’s refusal would also require Belgium’s foreign ministry to “set up a France-Belgian commission to resolve the border dispute, a move that was last required in 1930.”

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.