The Lost Fort

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


31 Dec 2008
  Happy New Year

We're close to the beginning of the New Year, and it's time again for making resolutions that won't be kept until January 10th or so. Personally, I've given up on that, but some historical characters have made New Year Resolutions that can be found here and on the blogs of Susan Higginbotham and Nan Hawthorne.

  • Alexander the Great: Come up with other town names than Alexandria.
  • Hannibal: Take some lessons in Italian geography.
  • Arminius: Kick the Romans out of Germania and myself into German legend.
  • Chariovalda: Take swimming lessons.
  • Nero: Win Roman Idol and tour Greece.
  • Septimius Severus: Spend some quality time with my sons.
  • Caracalla: Get a bigger bathroom.
  • Louis the Pious: Tell my sons I'm the king and can send them to bed without supper.
  • Maud: Have an equal opportunity commisioner present at the royal succession debate.
  • Heinrich IV: Rehearse that contrite expression.
  • Richard Lionheart: Be nice to Johnny.
  • Edward I: Take a course in accountancy.
  • William Shakespeare: Do more research.
  • Sir Walter Scott. Stop collecting antiquites. My house is cluttered already.
  • Richard Sharpe: Settle down. Well, maybe..


  • I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
     


    29 Dec 2008
      Summer in the Harz. With Castles

    After all those posts with lots of text and few pictures, I thought I'd go back to some picture posts for a change. Summer impressions on a cold winter day.

    View to the north-eastern Harz foothills

    Seen from Regenstein Castle. Somewhere in the distance lies Quedlinburg


    Michaelstein Monastery, cloister

    Remains of a 12th century Cisterciensian monastery. The cloister and some of the outhouses have been preserved and today house a museum for music instruments, a school, and a restaurant.

    Michaelstein Monastery, herbal garden

    I want a garden like that.


    Falkenstein Castle

    Falkenstein Castle was originally built in 1115 and altered several times during the following centuries. It was never conquered, but in the 18th century it was a ruin until the then owner reconstructed most of the buildings.

    View from Falkenstein Castle to the Selke valley

    Germany can be very green, too.


    Arnstein Castle

    A picturesque ruin. And a nice uphill walk in 30°C summer heat.


    Bode River

    One of the many shots I took of that one. I love running water.


    Rappbode Reservoir

    The sun had given way to some thunderclouds, and the air was very still.
     


    26 Dec 2008
      Historical Christmas Wishes

    Trust Susan Higginbotham and Nan Hawthorne to come up with some fun. What some historical characters would like to find under the Christmas tree.

  • Varus: To just get OUTTA HERE.
  • Arminius: Roman baths.
  • Segestes: An obedient daughter.
  • Caligula: Shiny new boots.
  • Nero: An e-guitar.
  • Agricola: Caledonia.
  • Calgacus: More PS to my chariot.
  • Maximinus Thrax: More wine.
  • Honorius: Some sheets to hide under until the Visigoths are gone.
  • Charlemagne: A new rearguard.
  • Heinrich I: Fowling equipment. A crown would be nice, too.
  • Heinrich IV: A pope's head or two in a vinegar jar.
  • Heinrich the Lion of Saxony: My lands back.
  • Friedrich Barbarossa: A life jacket.
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: Marriage counselling for my husband. It's not my fault.
  • Henry II: Family therapy for my wife and sons. It's not my fault.
  • Llywelyn Fawr. Glass windows for Criccieth Castle.
  • Richard III: A horse.
  • William Wallace: The director of Braveheart.
  • Duke of Wellington: Night. Or the Prussians.


  • Here's the reason why Llywelyn wants new windows
     


    24 Dec 2008
      Frohe Weihnachten

    I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. May Santa Claus, the Christkind or whoever is responsible for the task, bring you lots of books and other presents.

     


    11 Dec 2008
      Romanesque Ornaments

    I mentioned that one of the features of the Chapter Church in Quedlinburg is the decorative frieze that runs around the main nave. It does so on the outside as well. I got a good view at a piece of it from a window of the abbesses' Renaissance palace that today houses a museum.

    Frieze on the main nave of Quedlinburg Cathedral

    It is an architectural element that found its way from Italy into German buildings. While in Königslutter the monsters and figures are restricted to the apsis, and the other parts of the frieze (they can be seen on these photos) are merely patterned, Quedlinburg Cathedral shows a mix of monsters and ornaments all the way on the outside - the interior frieze has no monsters, though.

    Frieze detail, showing some monsters and animals (partly restored)

    Not all Romanesque churches have such friezes (the Weser abbey churches of Lippoldsberg and Bursfelde don't) whereas others take the ornaments a step further, like the Imperial Cathedral in Speyer with its decorative arcades running around the entire building.
     


    9 Dec 2008
      Chapter Church Quedlinburg

    The old town of Quedlinburg is dominated by the Chapter Church St. Servatius (also refered to as Quedlinburg Cathedral) on the Castle Hill. There's no exterior shot except the one on the post about the town because of the scaffolding, but I got some nice interior ones.

    Main nave, view to the choir

    The hill had been the site of a palatine castle and a chapel when Mathilde, widow of Heinrich I, commissioned the building of a chapter church to replace the smaller chapel where her husband lay entombed. It took from 997 to 1021 for the church to be finished, and after a fire part of it had to be rebuilt. The present church was consecrated in 1129, in presence of King Lothar of Süpplingenburg, the later Emperor and founder of Königslutter Cathedral.

    View towards the north aisle

    The Romanesque interior shows the so called Niedersächsischer Stützenwechsel (Lower Saxonian Pillar Alternation) with rows of two slender pillars, one square column, two pillars again, one column. The pillars divide the main nave from the lower aisles (basilica style). The west wall holds the Imperial Lodge behind the upper row of interior windows (see post about town) which was proabably used not only by the Emperors during their visits to Quedlinburg but also by the abbesses and ladies of the chapter.

    An example of the Stützenwechsel

    The choir to the east was rebuilt in the Gothic style under the Abbess Jutta von Kranichfeld in 1320. In 1938 an attempt was made to restore the Romanesque interior by adding an apsis wall to the choir. It is a high choir (like in Lippoldsberg) since the crypt is not built into a cellar but on one base with the nave, though using lower vaults - in case of Quedlinburg I suppose the sandstone bedrock was the reason.

    Crypt

    The crypt is undergoing renovation so I could only get a sneak photo through the iron grilled door. I think the two tomb plates in the background are the ones of Heinrich I and Mathilda.

    There is also a relief frieze running around the entire main nave. This as well as the decorations on the pillar capitals and the window frames show a strong Lombardian influence; much the same as Königslutter Cathedral. The ceiling is not a cross grain vault but the older timber cassette structure.

    View to south aisle - you can see the frieze under the upper windows

    The transept has very short wings with separate rooms that today are used to display the famous Domschatz (Cathedral Treasure) parts of which have been given back from the US. Because of the dim light it was almost impossible to get photos, though, and I don't use flash near objects that may react badly to stark light.

    Room in the transept with treasure exhibition

    During a restoration under Ferdinand von Quast in 1882 two 'Romanesque' towers with the wrong sort of gables were added, so that the most outstanding feature of the church is actually the youngest. I hope they use the ongoing renovation as chance to replace those roofs with something more authentic looking.
     


    4 Dec 2008
      Aberystwyth Impressions

    Aberystwyth was a flyby visit on my way from Pembroke to Caernarfon, though should I ever come to Wales again, I'd like to spend more time there than two hours. It's a lively place because of the many students, but less hectic than Bangor with its connection to the train line to Manchester. James from the Sir Benfro blog (that's not a title, but Welsh for shire, btw.) gave me a qick tour to the promenade and the castle remains.

    View to the Pier at low tide

    The pier had once been 900 feet long, but only about 300 remain today after the sea reclaimed parts of it. The sea tends to do that; Ceredigion Bay is also the location of the legendary Cantre'r Gwaelod, one of the sunken cities that line the coasts - its legends are related to Kêr Ys in Brittany.

    The history of Aberystwyth goes back to the 4th century BC when Iron Age settlers fortified the hilltop called Pen Dinas. The remains of that large hillfort can still be seen. Albeit the Romans had been in the area (there's a stretch of arrow straight road the way I came that stands out among the winding Welsh tracks, and James told me that a few remains of a smaller Roman fortress can be found near where he lives) there is no trace they ever tried to establish a Roman fort on the site.

    Pen Dinas, seen from the castle

    To the far right is a slender pillar; a monument erected in 1852 to honour the Duke of Wellington's victory at Waterloo, paid by public funding. It's interesting to see what people in the 19th century were willing to support financially - we got the misplaced Hermann (Arminius) monument much the same way. Try that today and you'll get laughed at.

    In the foreground are some of the stones that form a bardic circle of 13 standing stones symbolising the 13 old counties, pre the 1974 reform. The castle ruins have become a park today, a change Edward II might have liked better than his father.

    Aberystwyth Castle, one of the towers

    But it was not Edward I who started the castle building at Aberystwyth, it was one of the Gilbert de Clares who erected an earthen and timber ringwork castle down at the river Ystwyth in the 12th century.

    In the early 13th century, after he ousted the de Clares and other Norman chaps, Llywelyn ap Iorweth 'the Great' decided a hill by the sea was a better place for a castle than a valley and built the first one in the present spot. Makes one wonder why he didn't chose Pen Dinas, either. Like so many castle at the time, the one of Aberystwyth changed hands several times after Llywelyn's death as the Norman/Welsh wars moved to and fro.

    Aberystwyth Castle, remains of the inner bailey and hall

    Edward I was the one who got really serious about the castle thing once he conquered the Welsh, and turned Aberystwyth castle into a structure as formidable as Caernarfon or Conwy. Our friend Master James was the official overseer though he soon left his associate Master Giles of St. George in charge and returned to north Wales. The modernising of Aberystwyth castle according to the standards of 1294 cost 'only' some 4,300 pounds.

    The reason the castle is damaged much worse than Ed's other biggies lies in the fact that the sea is only a few yards away, and on a bad day not even that. Add to that the gales and torrents of a typical Welsh day, and even stone and mortar will crumble within time. The castle was beginning to succomb to decay as early as 1343, and the Civil War saw the end of it.

    Old College with Constitution Hill in the background

    What we got here is not a castle or cathedral, though it looks a bit like a mix of both, but the Castle Hotel, built 1872. It soon went bancrupt and was bought by the University College of Wales. It still houses some departments of the university, besides the newer locations at Penglais Campus and Llanbadarn Campus. The students surely got a pretty place to work in, but I wonder how often they'll find the Atlantic in the cellar. Let's hope they at least have a functioning central heating, something the Llywelyns, Owains, Henrys and Edwards will have sorely missed. Maybe that's the reason the Romans stayed away from the rain- and windswept Ceredigion Bay.

    I was lucky, I had a nice day when I visited Aberystwyth.
     




    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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    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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    Memories of Summer
    Summer Hiking Tours 2016
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    Autumn at Werra and Weser
    Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake
    Winter Wonderland - Views from my Balcony


    United Kingdom

    Mountains and Valleys
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    The East Coast
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    Some Photos from the East Coast

    Scottish Sea Shores
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    Pentland Firth
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    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
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    Other Times
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    -
    Miscellanea
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    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

    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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