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Borsbeek (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)

Last modified: 2007-10-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: borsbeek | flower (red) | burdock |
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[Flag of Borsbeek]

Municipal flag of Borsbeek - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 26 March 2006

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Presentation of Borsbeek

The municipality of Borsbeek (10,224 inhabitants on 1 July 2007, 392 ha) is a small but crowdy town bordering Antwerp in the south-east.

Borsbeek is mostly known for Fort 3, aka the Fort of Borsbeek. Fort 3 was built between 1860 and 1864 as a part of the defense system protecting Antwerp. There were different proposals for the system, among which Henri-Alexis Brialmont's was selected. His network of eight forts is still known as Brialmont's belt. The building of the belt started with the Fort of Borsbeek, which was also the only one to have been built as drafted in the original proposal. The fort was once one of the jewels of the crown; now restored after years of escheat, it is the best remain of Brialmont's belt.
The Fort of Borsbeek was before the First World War the third biggest fort in Europe, but it was progressively abandoned and demolished, and eventually decommissioned in 1963 and sold to the municipalities of Borsbeek and Mortsel. Borsbeek purchased Mortsel's part in 1987 and revamped the fort as a 32-ha recreational area, housing now more than 35 youth associations and sport clubs.

Source: Fort 3 website

Ivan Sache, 26 March 2006

Municipal flag of Borsbeek

The municipal flag of Borsbeek is horizontally divided yellow-red; a red flower is placed in the canton of the yellow stripe whereas the red stripe is charged with four yellow thin stripes (or the lower half of the flag is made of nine stripes in turn red and yellow).
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 6 March 1992, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 16 February 1993 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 21 June 1994.
The flower is a burdock, called in Dutch bors and the origin of the name of the municipality, beek meaning "a brook". The red and yellow stripes in the lower half of the flag might recall the six red and yellow stripes of the second and third quarters of the fourth quarter of the complicated municipal arms of Borsbeek.

Burdocks are thistle-like plants belonging to the family Asteraceae (ex Compositae), genus Arctium. The European and Asiatic burdocks belong to five species difficult to differentiate and forming several hybrids. The plant is up to 1.50 m high, has a deep taproot, alternate hairy leaves and purple composite inflorescences ("flowers"). Burdocks are typical zoochorous plants, that is they spread their seed via animals. The inflorescence is surrounded by a dense coat made of bractaea (the modified leaves appearing just below the flowers) each ending with a hook. These hooks allow the infloresence bearing the mature seeds to hang on very tightly to animal fur or human coats, that can spread the seeds on very long distances. Throwing burdock "heads" to the poor girls' hair was (and probably still is) a traditional nasty boys' pleasure in the countryside. It is said that the hooks "invented" by the burdock and other plants have inspired the inventors of the Velcro® strips and other scratches of that kind. In the past, infusion of burdock root was recomended against ringworm. Since ringworms also hang on very tightly to skin, it is possible that the medicinal property of burdock was proposed according to the "signature theory"; this medieval theory associated the properties of the plants to their appearance (a plant with kidney-shaped leaves was good against kidney diseases).

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 March 2006