Board F

Heathlands in Waalre North

In the distant past, the area where you are standing was mostly covered in old heathland. During the 19th and 20th centuries, this heathland was cultivated into fields and grasslands with a small portion of forest.

French Military Camp

From April 1800, newspapers reported on two camps near Eindhoven where Dutch and French troops began to assemble to march into Germany from there. Research has revealed that in 1800, a part of the French occupying army was stationed on this old heathland near the border with Aalst, at the location where you are standing now. Napoleon, the political leader of the French, was preparing a large campaign here, and thousands of French soldiers camped here. During May, June, and July 1800, more and more French army units reported here. During the day, they conducted military exercises on the heathland. In the evenings, they cooked their meals. No battles ever took place in Waalre; it was a so-called assembly camp.

The exact location of the camp is only known approximately based on a map from 1840. The exact size and composition of the camp are not yet known. Besides the military camp, other relics were present, as indicated by the presence of a redoubt and a lunette on that same historical map. These might have been training facilities for the French soldiers. Some of the findings made are on display at the Huis van Waalre, in the library.

More than 200 years later, the traces of the French soldiers have not entirely disappeared. You can still recognize the cooking pits in the landscape. Thousands of soldiers had to eat every day, and they prepared their meals in these pits. They were elongated pits that have partly sunk and filled over the years.

Quietness on the heathland is important for our birds and amphibians. Therefore, please keep dogs on a leash!