|The stilts in the Landes
The region of the Landes is an immense plain situated in south-west France. This district is delimited by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by the banks of the Adour to the South and by the ones of the Garonne to the north-east. Today it shelters the largest forest in Europe, constituted essentially of pine trees planted in the middle of the 19th century on Napoleon III’s spur.
Origin of the stilts
The first stilts appeared really before the forest. At that time, the Landes were an immense boggy country, very flat, where the vegetation was essentially constituted of herbs and brushwood. In this landscape, lived particularly shepherds. In order to clear more easily a way through the vegetation, to avoid getting their feet wet in the bogs but particularly to be able to observe from a distance their herds of sheep, the shepherds used stilts.
the last people on stilts at the beginning of the XXth century
The first testimonies of existence of the stilts date
back from the beginning of the 18th century. But how long have they existed?
Were they invented by the Landes’ shepherds or were they brought by the
Flemish who had used them since the Middle ages? So many questions that
nobody can answer with confidence.
The stilts from the Landes
They are constituted of two wooden parts:
From yesterday to today
The practice of the stilts used in a utilitarian way by shepherds disappeared progressively between the middle of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Indeed, the planting of the forest drained the marshes but also led to the disappearance of the pasture land and the sheep and their shepherds on stilts with it.
But at the same time, the shepherds began using the stilts
for plays and they mingled with other villagers to dance.
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