Who would have thought that events from the 1600s would give rise to a name still used today as part of a defence mechanism?

A cheval-de-frise was originally a movable obstacle covered with spikes attached to a wooden frame that was used to obstruct cavalry. Such objects were apparently first used in the Siege of Groningen that took place in 1672 during the Franco-Dutch war, when that city was besieged by the troops of the Bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen, who wished to push deeper into the Netherlands. The Frisians lacked cavalry and so the name is a French reference to these ‘Friesland horses’. The victory is still celebrated as a local holiday in the city of Groningen on 28th August each year.

These days the term cheval-de-frise can also refer to a row of nails, spikes, barbed wire, or broken glass set on top of a wall or fence to deter intruders. This is a typical modern version:

While this version would not fit into the above description, it is also a form of deterrent for ‘intruders’, only in this case these electrified strands have been employed around certain waterholes in the Addo Elephant National Park to prevent the domination of the water by elephants so that other animals can get a fair chance to drink too.

This alpaca, whose job it is to protect sheep, is safely behind another kind of razor wire:

Sometimes spiked railings such as these are used as a deterrent:

These spikes appear to be more decorative than useful:

Here is a serious obstacle to deter intruders!

Sadly, this type of cheval-de-fries is becoming all too common around both businesses and homes:

14 thoughts on “CHEVAL-DE-FRISE

    • Alpacas are alert and protective with excellent hearing and eyesight over long distances. Their territorial nature and fighting instincts are great deterrents for predators. Apparently their method of protection apparently ranges from walking or running towards the intruder (such as dogs or jackals). They are also known to chase, spit and kick with their front feet, making loud high-pitched noises as they attack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read that “good fences make good neighbors,” but what if the neighbors aren’t good, I thought. So probably it’s advisable to know “what [one is] walling in or walling out,” and how best to do that; i.e., know, but also wall (without offending either the neighbors or the landscape). Some of these in your pictures seem questionably “good fences.” But that’s our lot these days, right?


      • Sadly, this is the case. It is a dilemma we all face as no-one really likes to be ‘walled in’ as it were. Most people try to reach a compromise depending on where they live and what the prevailing circumstances are.


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