23 MARCH 1918, Page 12


[TO TEE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] SIR,—In his recenly published book, The Old Front Line, Mr, John Ifaseficld writes as follows

The hollow or sunken road and the steep emblai, or lynchet, are everywhere. One may say that no quarter of a mile of the whole battlefield is without one or other of them. The sunken roads are sometimes very deep. Many of our soldiers, on seeing them, have thought that they were cuttings made, with great labour, through the chalk."

The gullies which contain these roads occur in all parts of the chalk country, and are very frequently in places where, on the assumption that they are artificial, there is no apparent gain to campensate for the labour in excavating them. On the other hand, en the assumption that they are due to natural forces, there is equally no evidence as to the cause; or why, when they have been formed, roads should invariably run along the bottom of them and that they do not exist apart from roads. It has been sug- gested that the ordinary wear and tear of traffic through the centuries has caused this attrition, but the fact that the depth of the same road will vary from twenty feet to nothing in less than a hundred yards, in the same kind of soil, dispels this theory. I should be interested to know whether any of your readers could throw any light on what is to me an obscure and baffling phe-