This is the last walking day of our first stage of the Via Francigena. If the photos seem familiar, it is because we completed this day’s walk on September 24. I wanted to report the successful completion on that day even though I had only posted days 1 to 11 by that time. The missing days 12 to 15, along with a few rest days, have now been completed and posted. I’m now up-to-date.
To bring some closure, here is my earlier, slightly edited Day 16 post:
Péronne. A lovely town richly endowed with post-war Art Deco architecture. And, set within the walls of the town’s 13 C. castle, is the modern Historial of the Great War, designed by architect Henri-Edouard Ciriani.
Thankfully, our walking day to nearby Trefcon would be a short one, leaving us the morning to explore this museum which examines, with unflinching candor, the making of a war, its horrors and its aftermath. Among the artifacts and state-of-the-art presentations is Der Krieg (The War), artist Otto Dix’ collection of fifty unsettling etchings depicting the war as he experienced it from the trenches.
Beaulencourt British Commonwealth Cemetery
Thilloy Road Commonwealth Cemetery
Manchester Commonwealth Cemetery
Église Saint-Pierre, Villers au Flos
Église catholique Notre-Dame de Rocquigny, architect Jean-Louis Sourdeau, 1929-32
Necropole Nationale, Moislains
Église Paroissiale, Moislains, architect Louis Faille, 1928-32
Canal du Nord
Australian Remembrance Trail of the Battle of Mont-Saint-Quentin
Péronne Continue reading
The Via Francigena may have originated as a religious pilgrimage dating back to the 900s (if not earlier). But here, today, as Gail and I walk through the rolling farmland of northern France, we are reminded over and over again that the line we follow is as much informed by the Great War as it is by religion.
Yes, there are the small villages dominated by tall-spired churches. But even these carry the weight of war. Continue reading
It’s November, 2019. Gail and I have been back in Winnipeg for six weeks. I’ve been occupied with a book project, just now completed. So it’s time to get back to our Via Francigena pilgrimage, starting where you last saw us.
The 26-kilometre path to Burgos crosses a vast swath of human history.
It starts with a midday traverse of Atapuerca. Here, in limestone caves below the Atapuerca Massif, archaeologists uncovered (in 1994) a cache of human remains stretching across a pre-Christian era of 127,000 to 1,000,000 years ago. These are the oldest human remains in all of Europe and, by far, the largest repository of those remains. The caves are off-limits to mere living descendants but we can ponder our pagan past as we mount the massif. Continue reading