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Yvoir (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Yvoir]

Municipal flag of Yvoir - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 8 November 2005

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Presentation of Yvoir and its villages

The municipality of Yvoir (8,563 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 5,684 ha) is located in the valley of Meuse, 10 km north of Dinant. The municipality of Yvoir is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Yvoire, Dorinne, Durnal, Évrehailles, Godinne, Houx, Purnode and Spontin.

Yvoir was already settled in the Neolithic (flint workshop in Tricointe) and in the Gallo-Roman times (Airbois). In the Middle Ages, Yvoir was a fief of the Provostship of Poilvache; a manuscript of the Provostship lists the village as Hora, a Germanic toponym meaning "muddy land".
Iron industry started in Yvoir in the XIVth century; there were up to 12 forges, the oldest being the forge of Yvoir and the second oldest the forge of Aminthe. The forges were powered by the water of brook Bocq, a tributary of the Meuse. The oldest document mentioning a forge is dated 1518, when Archduke Charles (later Emperor Charles V) allowed the building of a hammer in Bauche. There were eight forges in Yvoir in 1563 but the ironmasters experienced a big crisis in the XVIIth century. They lost their customers in Brussels, Flanders and Liège because of the wars; several workers, of excellent reputation, emigrated to Stromberg (Germany) and Finspang (Sweden). Louis de Geer, who organized the emigration in 1620, is considered as a pioneer of the Swedish iron industry. A Decree from the Spanish government (1624), completed by an Imperial Decree (1627) forbidding workers' emigration, could not stop the emigration movement. Moreover, the iron from Yvoir suffered from the competition of the more resistant iron produced in Luxembourg and in Sweden.
The iron industry re-started in the XVIIIth century; in 1775, five out of the 25 ironmasters registered in the province of Namur lived in Yvoir; in 1808, 765 out of the 1,465 iron workers registered with the préfecture of Dinant were employed in Yvoir. The last forge was closed in 1866; all of them were transformed into watermills and sawmills. A maka, the big hammer used in forges, is still visible near the confluency of Bocq with Meuse.
Alfred Dapsens, from Tournai, bought the goods of the former ironmasters and exploited sandstone quarries (Grès d'Yvoir). He was very successful since sandstone is very rare in Belgium. The Dapsens quarries are still in activity. At the same time, Alphonse Lambret transformed the forge of Yvoir into a brewery, powered in electricity by the Bocq; in 1908, Lambret provided most of the village with electricity. The Lambret brewery employed eight workers in 1940; it was sold in 1951 to Fernand Maire, from Meix, and is still active, producing the dark beer La Gaumaise.
The railway tunnel built near Yvoir is the longest in Belgium (1.176 km); it was used in 1940 to shelter Hitler's train. The island of Yvoir (2.5 ha) is the only island in Belgium used as tourist resort, set up in 1937; it can be acceded from mid-April to the end of September.

Dorinne (formerly written Duros, Dorina, Durines and Dorine) might have been named after the Celtic word durom, "a small fort", probably located on a Roman way. In the Middle Ages, Dorinne was divided into two parts, one belonging to the domain of Spontin, vassal of the County of Namur, and the second one, the parish of Dorinne, being one of the 32 hauteurs of the municipality of Ciney. That domain depended on the feudal court of Liège and was enclaved in the County of Namur. The division was kept after the French Revolution, a part of the village being still allocated to Spontin. In December 1821, the two parts were united into the enlarged municipality of Dorinne.

Durnal is known for its caves, the places of the local legends of the Nutons and the Gatte d'Or, but probably inhabited at the Prehistoric times. Like Dorinne, Durnal was divided in the past between the County of Namur and the Principality of Liège. The municipality of Durnal was created in 1850.

Évrehailles developed around three main streets. It completely depended on the County of Namur. The hamlet of Bauche is the origin of the iron industry in Yvoir (see above). The church of &EAcute;vrehailles was burned by the Germans in 1914, as well as several farms.

Godinne is built in a meander of the Meuse. The calvary Le Vieux Bon Dieu, on the rock of La Faulx, was built on the site of the gallows of the medieval court of Poilvache. The chêne à l'image (image oak) is an old oak decorated with a picture of the Blessed Virgin and several nails to which pilgrims hang medals and beads.

Houx is dominated by the ruins of the castle of Poilvache. The fortress was built in 1226-1228 by Waleran de Montjoie, Duke of Limburg, and his wife Isabelle de Bar, Countess of Luxembourg. The original name of the castle was Smaragdus (in Roman, Esmeraude), from the Frankish anthroponym Meraldus. Since the XIIIth century, the fortress was nicknamed Poilvache (from poil, "coat", and vache, "cow") by the people from Dinant and Huy, who complained of the rascals from Poilvache stealing their cows and pigs in their stables. The castle was also known as Castrum Bohemorum. The people from Dinant besieged, seized and plundered Poilvache in 1322. The castle was rebuilt and besieged again by the people from Liège in 1430; after a 5-6 day siege, the garrison surrendered and the castle was completely demolished. Rebuilt once again, the castle was again demolished by the French troops in 1554. The ruins of Poilvache belong to the Walloon Region and were registered as "Exceptional Heritage" in 1992.

Purnode is said to have been named after a wood of prune-trees (called pronote in the Xth century). The suffix -ode is often a Romanization of the German world wald, "a wood". The Bocq brewery was founded by Martin Belot in 1858; this traditional brewery produces more than 6 million liters of special beer per year. After bottling, the beers are stored for 15 days at a constant temperature of 20 degrees, to give them their specific taste.

Spontin is the geographical center of Wallonia. It was originally a feudal domain that developed around a castle built in the XIIth century to watch the Dinant-Huy road. The famous lord of Spontin Guillaume de Beaufort, aka l'Ardennais, who fought at the battle of Woeringen in 1289, transformed at the end of the XIIth century the original castle into a three-floor fortress defended by thick walls and two turrets. The fortifications of the castle were increased in the XIVth century; in the XVIth century, the fortress was transformed into a more comfortable castle, to which a fortified farm was added in the XVIIth century. The castle of Spontin was defended by six outposts, the donjons of Senenne, La Rochette, Bailoy, Durnal, Mouffrin and Le Stier. The latter donjon was the biggest of all with a manor, a mill and a stable.
The water sources of Spontin called Duchesse, Presbytère and Clairchant have been known since the ancient times. In 1922, the Compagnie Générale des Eaux Minérales et Gazeuses was founded to exploit and sell the water. The Spontin SA was incorporated into the Spadel group in 1980. The company sells water from the Duchesse and Clairchant sources (recognized as mineral water sources by the Royal Academy of Medecine of Belgium in 1939) and the Sirops Spontin (fruit drinks).

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 8 November 2005

Municipal flag of Yvoir

The municipal flag of Yvoir is white with three red roses placed 2 and 1.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

Arnaud Leroy & Pascal Vagnat, 8 November 2005