Walhain Castle to be Preserved

Since 1998 Bailey K. Young has been excavating the site of Walhain Castle, in the province of Brabant Wallon, southeast of Brussels (Belgium), in partnership with the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL) and the Center for National Archaeological Research (CRAN) which is based there.  The month-long excavation has been the centerpiece of EIU’s unique Summer Archaeology in Belgium Program, which allows American students the opportunity to earn credits in History or Earth Science while taking part in a full-scale medieval excavation.  The program was originally designed for Honors students, at the instigation of Honors Dean Herbert Lasky (also Professor of History), and subsequently opened to non-Honors undergraduates and to graduate students as well.  The state of the standing vestiges of the castle, which date between the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries, has given cause for concern, since they have been privately owned and their conservation demanded expertise and financial resources beyond the means of the owners.  Although the site was classified and protected as an historical monument the Heritage Institute of Wallonia (IPW) lacked the funds needed to purchase it.  At the request of the IPW, Professors Young and Lasky organized an American committee, Friends of the Walloon Heritage, to help raise the funds.  In July 2008 the committee toured the castle site and other heritage sites in Belgium, and took part in conversations with the IPW, the Walhain township, the owners and others interested in finding a solution to preserve the site.  On October 22 Professor Young received a letter from M. Freddy Joris, Director of the IPW, announcing that an agreement had been reached with the owners to sell the property to the IPW, which plans with the help of its American friends to begin measures of conservation soon.  M. Joris expressed his thanks for the help given so far, and stressed that the IPW favors the continuation of the research and excavation program in the future, in co-ordination with the restoration of the site.

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