A Belgian farmer from the village of Erquelinnes, who moved a 150-kilogram stone to enlarge his land and pass with his tractor, has accidentally moved the border between Belgium and France by 2.29 meters. The farmer from this southern Belgian municipality bordering northern France thus modified a border delimited by the 1820 Treaty of Courtrai and enlarged Belgian territory, to the benefit of his village and to the detriment of the French village of Bousignies-sur-Roc.
The alteration in the cartography was discovered by a group of history buffs, Jean-Pierre Chopin, Philippe Fayt and Jean-Paul Maieu, when they were touring the site with maps of the time.
The stone in question, engraved with the date 1819, establishes how this border was recorded after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 in the Belgian town of Waterloo, before the formation of Belgium as a State in 1830.
According to the account of some neighbors to French media, the farmer in question would have moved the stone to slightly enlarge his land, while other media indicate that the farmer moved the rock to be able to maneuver better with his tractor.
“The 1819 boundary has been moved, Belgium and our municipality are enlarged. The French obviously do not agree, we will have to put things back in place,” wrote on Facebook the mayor of the Belgian municipality of Erquelinnes, David Lavaux, who went to the point of contention with a team of French television TF1.
The Belgian authorities will contact the farmer to ask him to put the stone back in place and avoid Brussels incurring a border dispute with the neighboring country and the farmer having to answer to a criminal court.
“But if he shows good intentions he will have no problem, we will solve this amicably,” the mayor told local daily Sudinfo.