The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


31 May 2008
  The Romans Got There As Well

And what they built must have been as impressive as the castles, about 2000 years ago. The problem is that for one, more time has passed since they left what they called Britannia in 410 AD, then their finely chiselled stones were often reused (some even in the castles) and today some of their remains are found under houses that can't just be torn down to excavate more Roman foundations.

Hypocaust heating of the fort bath, found in a cellar in Chester

But enough remains to get a feeling for the former splendour. Like the baths in Caerleon which would put some modern leisure centres to shame.

Main bassin in the Caerleon baths, 42 metres in length

Or the arena in Caerleon, which albeit overgrown with grass still displays the wide diameter of the original structure, though not its height.

Roman arena in Caerleon

Caerleon was a legionary fort, not an auxiliary fortress like the ones at the Hadrian's Wall and the German limes, and thus everything comes a bit larger. After all, a legion consisted of abut 5,000 men - not counting the slaves - and even if some of them were dispatched elsewhere most of the time, Caerleon was constructed to house the whole lot.

Barrack row at Caerleon fort

The Romans not only built two legionary forts at Caerleon and Chester (Deva) and littered Wales with auxuliary fortresses (one - Segontium - can be found in Caernarfon), they also built a town at Caerwent.

Flowers on the Roman east wall of Caerwent

What the Roman places had in common with the Norman castles were big walls. Makes you wonder why. *grin*
 


29 May 2008
  Castles in Wales

I'm back. With lots of pics. Two rainy afternoons in two weeks wasn't bad at all, particularly not for Wales. Except for a fresh wind blowing from the sea sometimes, it was not cold, either. The only problem was the often hazy atmosphere which made it difficult to get decent photos of the landscape. But I got plenty of the castles.

Chepstow Castle, outer curtain wall

I managed to meet with Lady D from Lady Despenser's Scribery and James Oswald from Sir Benfro. It's nice to meet people you know from the internet in real. With Lady D I invaded Chepstow Castle, and with James I took a stroll through Aberystwyth, discussing ghosts and magic in novels. I failed to see a real ghost in any of the castles, though.

Chepstow Castle, sea gate

Welsh public transport does get you places - except on Bank Holidays - though sometimes it's a bit complicated, like from Caernarfon to Dolwyddelan via Llandudno. But at least you can stop a bus almost everywhere.

Dolwyddelan Castle, Llywelyn's Keep

People actually speak Welsh in north Wales, and it's a pretty sounding language. In south Wales on the other side, the bilingual signs and descriptions fe. in the castles are a joke since almost no one can tell you how to pronounce a word, let alone knows what it means.

Conwy Castle, inside seen from one of the towers

Ok, now I'll have to go and sort out 2,000 photos, read up on two weeks worth of blogposts on my sidebar links, and put my foot into cold water because I managed to slip when leaving the ferry in Amsterdam and twist something. No, I'm not going to see a doctor for that, he'd only put my foot in a cast and make a lot of fuss about not doing this and not doing that. I heal better without the 'help' of a bone setter (to use a Mediaeval term).

Criccieth Castle

It's fortunately back to German cakes and sweets; the British stuff is way too sugary for my taste. And to some nice rye bread with cheese instead of scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Nothing wrong with them, but after two weeks I wanted a change. :)

Manorbier Castle, inner ward

The pleasantest spot in Wales, Gerald of Wales called Manorbier Castle in southern Wales, and he got a point. It is less imposing than some of the huge Norman castles and the Edwardian ones, but it really pretty.

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly is another Norman castle in southern Wales. The things are huge, with massive walls, sorrounded by water and ditches, several gatehouses and lots of nasty little tricks to keep those pesky Welsh out.

Pembroke Castle, the Norman keep

Seat of the famous William Marshal, Pembroke Castle dominates the village of the same name. A fun place to explore.

Pembroke castle in the evening sun

In the evening, the sun came out and I took a walk around the castle to take some photos of the imposing walls looking warm and golden in that light, no longer grey an forbidding.

Caernarfon Castle

One of King Edward I's fortifications in northern Wales (together with Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and several others) and birthplace of his son, Edward of Caernarfon, the future Edward II, subject of Kathryn Warner's highly informative blog.

Caernarfon, the Eagle Tower

Don't get me wrong, I've developed an interest in the Welsh and their history and I'm not the biggest fan of Edward Longshanks, but the castles are still great. *wink*

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris is the last and most beautiful of King Edward's Welsh castles. I had luck with the sunny weather which made it a really lovely site to visit.

Beaumaris, outer bailey

An overview of the Roman vestiges in Wales can be found here.
 


22 May 2008
  It's Fun So Far

Just a short check-in from Caernarfon Library's internet. I'm having fun, and the weather is not too bad. I take lots of pics: let's hope they will turn out fine. I am getting tired of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bacon and beans, though. *grin*

Those Normans really built their castles big - you can put several Hansteins into Caerphilly, for example. The Roman bath at Caerleon is the most splendid I've come across so far, and I've seen quite a few of them. The landscape in northen Wales is gorgeous and made the long bus journey from Pembroke to Caernarfon worth the effort. And I got to stop at Aberystwyth and see the castle ruins there as well. Tomorrow I'll be off to Conwy and Dolwyddelan. Gotta love those Welsh names. And I have figured out how Llywelyn is pronounced. :)
 


13 May 2008
  My Blog is Taking a Holiday

I'm leaving for Wales tomorrow and will return on May 28. Normal posting will begin soon thereafter.

Hold the thumbs for some nice weather. Rain may be typically Welsh but makes for bad photos and wet feet.

But I won't leave you without some pics.

Spring evening at the Kiessee Lake

I finally got around to bringing my camera when I walk in the Kiessee area. It's very close to my flat and nice for an evening stroll. The only disadvantage is that a lot of people get the same idea when the weather is fine.


There are meadows where you can often find families and other groups complete with portable barbecue grill and lots of bottled beer that had been balanced on bicycle luggage holders.


The lake is a flooded gravel pit. Right now there are some problems with too much duckweed growing on the water. The ducks that are supposed to eat it prefer the bread they get fed. Lazy buggers.


Nature is really catching up and May is coming.


Because spring green is so pretty, here's another photo.
 


11 May 2008
  Fallen Splendour, Forgotten Greatness

St Mary's Abbey in York once was the one of the wealthiest monasteries in England and the abbot among the most powerful clergymen of his days. The abbey was built in 1088 and consecrated to the Benedictine rule, though of course, later changes and additions were made; most of what is left looks Gothic (Early English period) to me rather than Norman, except the heavy bundled pillar in the crossing that reminds me of the Norman part of Hexham Abbey.

St.Mary's Abbey, remains of the nave

The Gothic parts would fit with the time the wall encircling the abbey was erected which dates to 1260. The walls proved useful several times when the abbey and the city of York quarreled about taxes and land ownership. Somehow these things always tended to come to blows in the Middle Ages.

Crossing and transept, to the left a bundled pillar of surprising size

Today only some ruins in the Museum Gardens remain, but you can still sense some of the splendour in the withered stones. The estate of the monastery once occupied the entire area of the Museum Gardens. What is left are parts of the nave, the crossing and transept, and the cloister.

South entrance to the main nave

The decline of the abbey began when King Henry VIII banned all monasteries in England in 1530. The buildings were converted into a palace for the king when he visited York. Over time, the abbey with outbuildings and church fell into ruins until the Yorkshire Philosophical Society excavated them in the 1820ies and made efforts to preserve the remains.
 


1 May 2008
  York Guild Hall

Or, The Ancient Guild Hall of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York.

I like the merchant adventurers; it evokes images of stout cogs with red and white sails ploughing the green waters of the Baltic Sea, camel caravans trudging through yellow sand, mail clad mercenaries with their hands close to the swordhilt, and white eyed moors gesticulating with slant eyed men from Cathai in front of the pillared facades of a Venetian house, or a caftan clad citizen of Novgorod drinking beer with a golden haired Nordman while admiring the wonders of St.Mary Church in Lübeck, anxious to return ere the Gotland pirates gather another fleet. And maybe his comrade of chance is a pirate himself, and the moor in Venice an escaped galley slave who fought as mercenary all the way up into marrying the doge's daughter.

Though the explanation is less romantic: a merchant adventurer was someone who risked - adventured - his money in overseas trade.

Outside view of the York Guild Hall

I didn't have the Guild Hall on my list of places to see, but when I visted the Roman baths, I got a ticket for several small museums, including the charming one about Richard III (which wasn't on my list either thanks to crappy UK travel guidebook - next time I'll spend the money on a Baedecker) and the Guild Hall, so I sneaked it in between breakfast and catching a train to Newcastle on my last day. The place is surely worth a visit. The York Guild Hall is the oldest that survived with its business rooms, hospital and chapel intact, and it's the largest townhouse of the time, only churches and castles were bigger.

In 1357, a group of influential men and women founded a religious fraternity and built the hall. Which proves, again, that not all women in the Middle Ages were suppressed to the level of inisgnificance except for popping out as many children as possible; women held considerable influence in the guilds.

Less than a hundred years later most members were merchants, and they set up a trading association, a guild, alongside the religious fraternity. The hall was quite the multifunctional place, the members conducted trade business, said prayers, cared for the poor, and met socially.

The Guild (today called Company) still exists though no longer as trading association. They still are involved in charity and use the chapel for services, and they own the Guild Hall as trustee for visitors.

The Great Hall

The Great Hall was built as double nave because there were no timbers large enough to span the full width - English oaks grow big, but not that big.

The lower part of the hall, the undercroft, is constructed of bricks; the earliest to be made in York since the Romans left. The upper part is a half-timbered construction . The process used was interesting because each section was first put together lying on the ground, the timbers marked, and then it was dismantled and reassembled in an upright position on the building.

The windows are one of the 16th century additions, the original ones were smaller.

The Undercroft

The Undercroft was used as hospital from 1373 to 1900. Guilds were the first to build hospitals in several towns, for example in Lübeck as well, and there, as in York, the hospital was in use into the 19th century. The name hospital may be somewhat misleading, because the inmates were poor and infirm people rather than acutely sick ones.

A great fireplace was inserted in the 16th century; before the room had been heated by braziers. Some of the beams still show scorch marks of torches. The place must have been rather dark and cold, especially in winter, but probably a paradise for people who else might have been left to sleep on the streets.

Charity is one reason to have a hospital, but another was order. People who had nowhere to go, no connection with the organised life in a town, were considered a potential danger and a disgrace in the eyes of God. By giving them a place to live, they were reintruduced - or kept - within society.

On the undercroft level is also the chapel which was used by the guild members as well as the people in the hospital. It is consecrated to the Holy Trinity which also protected the activities of the guild.

Old furniture in the First Anteroom

An annex was added in the 16th century, it holds the Governor's Parlour and several anterooms. It is a three gabled structure that fits well with the two large gables of the double nave roof. The rooms inside today display a nice arrangement of old furniture, paintings, and some silver.

The company held a number of responsibilites like the control of weights and measures, and they also trained apprentices and helped young men to start their own business. Some of this was conducted past the Middle Ages (there's a 17th century document about a loan, fe.). Until today, the company also keeps the archives.

Source: The guidebook provided by the Company
 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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Location: Goettingen, Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Mediaeval Erfurt

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Mediaeval Goslar

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Magdeburg Cathedral
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Mediaeval Quedlinburg
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Mediaeval Xanten
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Otto of Northeim
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Origins of the Counts of Hohnstein
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Introduction
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Criccieth
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Manorbier
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The Caves Under the Castle


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Copenhagen
To come


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Historical Landscapes

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Kutná Hora
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Belgium

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Mediaeval Ghent

Tongeren
Roman and Mediaeval Remains


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A Tour of the Town


France

Towns

Strasbourg
A Tour of the Town


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Germany

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A Tour on the Wakenitz River

Harz National Park
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Ilse Valley and Ilse's Rock
Oderteich Reservoir
Rappbode Reservoir
Views from Harz mountains

Nature Park Meissner-Kaufunger Wald
Hessian Switzerland

Nature Park Solling-Vogler
The Hutewald Forest
The Raised Bog Mecklenbruch

Thuringian Forests
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Rivers and Lakes
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Edersee Reservoir
A Rainy Rhine Cruise
The Moselle
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Weser Skywalk

Wildlife
Harz Falcon Park
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Ozeaneum Stralsund: The North Sea Life

Seasons
Spring in the Botanical Garden Göttingen
Spring at the 'Kiessee' Lake
Spring in the Rossbach Heath (Meissner)
Memories of Summer
Summer Hiking Tours 2016
Autumn in the Meissner
Autumn at Werra and Weser
Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake
Winter Wonderland - Views from my Balcony


United Kingdom

Mountains and Valleys
West Highland Railway

The East Coast
By Ferry to Newcastle
Highland Mountains - Inverness to John o'Groats
Some Photos from the East Coast

Scottish Sea Shores
Crossing to Mull
Mull - Craignure to Fionnphort
Pentland Firth
Castles Seen from Afar (Dunollie and Kilchurn)
Staffa
Summer Days in Oban
Summer Nights in Oban

Wild Wales - With Castles
Views of Snowdownia
Views from Castle Battlements

Wildlife
Sea Gulls


Scandinavia

The Hurtigruten-Tour / Norway
A Voyage into Winter
Along the Coast of Norway - Light and Darkness
Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

Norway by Train
From Oslo to Bergen
From Trondheim to Oslo

Wildlife
Bearded Seals
Dog Sledding With Huskies
Eagles and Gulls in the Trollfjord


The Baltic Sea

A Baltic Sea Cruise

The Curonian Spit in Lithuania
Beaches at the Curonian Spit
Geology of the Curonian Spit






Roman History
General Essays

Provinces
- Germania
- Gallia Belgica
- Britannia

Mediaeval History
General Essays

By Country
- Germany
- England
- Scotland
- Wales
- Denmark
- Norway
- Sweden
- Livonia
- Lithuania
- Poland
- Bohemia

Other Times
- Prehistoric Times
- Post-Mediaeval History
-
Miscellanea
- Geology


Roman History

General Essays

The Romans at War

Forts and Fortifications
Exercise Halls
Mile Castles and Watch Towers
Soldiers' Living Quarters
Cavalry Barracks

Roman Militaria

Armour
Early Imperial Helmets
Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

Weapons
Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum
Daggers
Swords

Other Equipment
Roman Saddles

Life and Religion

Religion
The Mithras Cult
Isis Worship
Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms

Public Life
Roman Transport - Barges
Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
Bathing Habits
Children's Toys
Face Pots

Miscellaneous Essays

The Legend of Alaric's Burial


Germania

Wars and Frontiers

Maps
Romans in Germania

Traces of the Pre-Varus Conquest
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

Along the Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg


Gallia Belgica

The Batavians

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction


Britannia

Roman Frontiers in Britain

The Hadrian's Wall
Introduction
The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend


Mediaeval History

General Essays

Mediaeval Art and Craft

Mediaeval Art
Carved Monsters
The Choir Screen in the Cathedral of Mainz
The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
Mediaeval Monster Carvings
The Viking Treasure of Hiddensee

Medieaval Craftmanship
Goldsmithery
Medical Instruments

Mediaeval Warfare

Mediaeval Weapons
Swords
Trebuchets

Castles and Fortifications
Dungeons and Oubliettes

Essays about Specific Topics

Feudalism

The History of Feudalism
The Beginnings
Feudalism in the 10th Century

Privileges and Special Relationships
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League

The History of the Hanseatic League
Introduction and Beginnings

Hanesatic Architecture
Examples of Brick Architecture

Goods and Trade
Stockfish Trade

The Order of the Teutonic Knights

Wars and Battles
The Conquest of Danzig
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

The Vikings

Viking Ships
The Nydam Ship


Germany

Geneaology

List of Mediaeval German Emperors

Geneaologies
Anglo-German Marriage Connections
Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

Kings and Emperors

The Salian Dynasty
King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

Princes and Lords

Princes
Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

Counts and Local Lords
The Marshals of Ebersburg
The Counts of Everstein
The Counts of Hohnstein
The Lords of Plesse
The Counts of Reichenbach
The Counts of Winzenburg

Famous Feuds

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

Local Feuds
The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars


England

Kings of England

King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

Great Fiefs - The Honour of Richmond
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany

Contested Borders

Northumbria
King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Rebels

A History of Rebellion
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

Foreign Relations
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

A Time of Feuds

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Towns of the Hanseatic League

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


Poland

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


Bohemia
(Including Silesia and Moravia)

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
(to come)


Other Times

Prehistoric Times

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Orkney

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Scandinavia

Gotland
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Biographies

European Nobility
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History in Literature

Biographies of German Poets and Writers
Theodor Fontane

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
(Translated by me)
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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