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A Farmer Moved a 200-Year-Old Stone, and the French-Belgian BorderWhen it comes to redrawing nations’ borders, scores of diplomats can spend years painstakingly hashing out every inch of the dividing line. For the border between France and Belgium to be redrawn, all it seemingly took was one farmer. Apparently frustrated by a 200-year-old stone border marker, a Belgian farmer dug it out and moved it about 7 feet into French territory, local officials told French news media, thus slightly enlarging his own land as well as the entire country of Belgium. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The displaced stone was spotted last month by a sharp-eyed group of Frenchmen, who for the past few years have wandered the countryside of their local area in northern France, following the border and checking each marker they encountered against a map showing the stones’ original locations. Two members of the group were walking in the woods near the village of Bousignies-sur-Roc, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Paris, in April when they came across a marker. They immediately suspected something wasn’t right, one of the men, Jean-Pierre Chopin, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “All the markers are typically placed in a very precise manner, but this one was raised up on higher ground. It just looked strange,” Chopin said. They consulted their map and discovered that the stone was not in its expected position, but about 7 feet (about 2.2 meters), farther into France than it should be. “It’s a really isolated spot,” Chopin, 58, said. “Almost no one passes by there, so it might never have been discovered to have been moved.” It is unclear exactly how long ago the stone was moved — and the farmer in question has not yet commented — but Chopin guessed that it had been displaced for two or three months. The stone markers, each believed to weigh between 300 and 600 pounds, were laid when the 390-mile border between France and what is now Belgium was established under the 1820 Treaty of Kortrijk. It is unclear whet
A farmer moved a 200-year-old stone, and the French-Belgian borderNEW YORK — When it comes to redrawing nations’ borders, scores of diplomats can spend years painstakingly hashing out every inch of the dividing line.
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