Stake from the Dong Van Muoi stake yard in the backyard of a house in Dong Coc. (photo by Mark Staniforth courtesy of the Bach Dang River and Van Don Research Team).

Intangible Cultural Heritage at Bach Dang in 2011

The physical record embedded in the landscape is supplemented by accounts and cultural stories told by the people in two of the local villages - Dong Coc and Huong Hoc. In 2011 Dr Paddy O'Toole and Professor Mark Staniforth generated a series of interview questions, which were supplemented by Dr Lien, who also acted as the interpreter. A total of eight interviews were conducted in Huong Hoc on November 24th and five interviews on November 25th at Dong Coc. These interviews were audio and video recorded for further analysis. The themes discussed with the participants related to the location of stakes, as well as the cultural traditions and worship surrounding the battle and Tran Hung Dao.

According to some of the interviewees, the stake fields were extensive. The dyke that surrounded and protected the villages of Huong Hoc and Dong Coc collapsed in a huge storm in 1955 and many stakes were found when the new (current) levee bank was created. One participant, aged 81, related how she worked at Yen Giang in the 1950s and she had seen stakes all the way from the Yen Giang stake field as far as the new Catholic Church. The stake fields were 10 metres wide and more than 1k long. One participant, whose family has been in the area for 10 generations, noted that his great grand-parents had told him that many stakes were in the area, located near the commune house. This testimony from their ancestors was repeated by a 68-year-old participant, who had heard from an older generation that stakes were 200 metres from the commune house. Stakes found in the 1980s were used in the temple in Dong Coc, but were later removed by cultural unit officials. Stakes have been used as building material, in dykes and to stablise earth and can be seen in back yards and in family houses. In some areas the number of stakes in the fields made it difficult to use machines and only the top section of the soil could be tilled. In 1980/81, for example, stakes were used to help rebuild the dyke.

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