Forêt de Guerre: Natural remembrances of the Great War

  • Orlando Prestidge Northamptonshire Archaelogy ; University of Bristol


I will discuss the effect that the Great War had on the medieval woodland landscape of France, and how the cataclysmic destruction of the conflict is now represented, remembered and sometimes even preserved by the presence of post-war woodland. The unparalleled quantities of munitions that tore apart the landscape from 1914-1918 had both physical effects at the time, as well as longer-lasting manifestations that we see today. The first use of chemical weapons, along with the problems posed by their disbursement and disposal, also still affect the soil of the Western Front, as well as the trees and plants that traditionally grew in the region. I will also analyse the deeper and far more ancient significance of forests and trees within French culture, and how this has affected the way that people have interacted with the ‘Forêt de guerre’ landscape that grew up to replace that lost during the hostilities. 

World War I; 1914-18; Archaeology; Anthropology; Folklore; Landscape; Trees; Forests; Zone Rouge; Historic Sites - France


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