The Lost Fort

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


30 Jan 2010
  The Romans in Germania - A Geography Lesson

In order to make it easier for you to put a location to the places I keep mentioning in context of the Romans in Germany, this post will provide you with some maps.

The first one shows the Roman provinces at the time of Augustus. The provinces have been restructured and renamed several times in Roman history. For example, part of what on this map is Gallia Belgica about 90 AD became Germania Inferior, and the land between Rhine and Danube then protected by the Limes would be called Germania Superior.

The Roman provinces at the time of Augustus

The red and orange ones are all provinces of the Roman Empire that started in the middle of Italy (that high heel boot kicking Sicily) a few hundres years earlier. You can see that there's a nice chain of provinces all around the Mediterranean Sea. After they, ahem .... collected those, the Romans pushed north. Southern Britain was conquered after Augustus' time, so it's still green on that map.

The borders of Germania (also green) are marked by the Rhine (running south-north) and the Danube (running west-east into the Black Sea). Under Hadrian, the angle formed by those two rivers was integrated into the Empire and protected by the German Limes. The provinces along the Danube include Pannonia where Arminius fought on the Roman side against rebellious tribes prior to his return to Germania.

Next comes a map of the Romans in northern Germany during the time of Drusus' and Tiberius' invasions in 16-9 BC until Germanicus' campaigns in 14-16 AD.

Roman supply bases and forts in Germania Magna

Since I photographed both maps in the Hedemünden exhibition, that fortress / supply base figures prominently right in the middle (the map only shows the northern half of Germany) at the Weser/Werra (Visurgis) river. Göttingen is a bit north of it, and if you follow an imaginary line to the Leine river, you'll see the Harz on the right, that's where the recently discovered battlefield of Kalefeld is situated.

You can see the two legionary forts at Mainz (Moguntiacum) and Xanten (Castra Vetera). The Limes would later start a bit north of Mainz. The Lippe (Lupis) river that from Xanten runs east into Germania was the location of several Roman forts, among them Haltern that also had a naval base. Kalkriese, the probable Varus battlefield, lies further north.

Close to the Rhine, but on the 'wrong' side lies Waldgirmes, a Roman town in Germania that was destroyed after the Varus battle. Another place on my To Visit list. The Elbe, the river that for some time was supposed to become the new frontier of a Roman empire that included Germania Magna, runs in the east.

Germany (map found here)

Germany today extends the borders of the planned Roman province. Since not all towns are shown on that map, you'll have to place Mainz near Wiesbaden. The Limes cut from there to Regensburg at the Danube. Xanten (also not shown) is at the border to the Netherlands; the Lippe runs between the line Duisburg, Essen Dortmund and Münster further north.

You can see that the whole Berlin area and Baltic Sea coast is north-east of the Elbe which confluences into the North Sea near Hamburg, while in the south part of the old province of Raetia in the Alpes now is Germany (the other part is mostls Switzerland), and in the west, Germany stretches towards Trier on the 'Roman' side of the Rhine.

Hedemünden is situated between Kassel and Göttingen, Kalefeld a third on the way between Göttingen and Hannover, and Kalkriese near Osnabrück.

The following maps show the Limes Germanicus:

The Upper German - Raetian Limes (map found here)

This is an overview over the Limes, the German border between the Roman Empire - namely the provinces of Germania Superior and Raetia - and Germania Magna or 'free Germania' that extended east of the Rhine and north of the Danube.

West of that straight north-south line in the midst of the map (the Odenwald Limes) you can see another line of forts along the Neckar river. That was the extent of the Limes under Hadrian; Antoninus Pius then pushed it a bit further east (about AD 150-160).

The Saalburg Fort can be found near the town of Koblenz (Confluentes) though that closeness is due to the small scale of the map. It's actually closer to Frankfurt which is not shown but can be found on the map above. But Moguntiacum (Mainz), the capital of the province Germania Superior, is listed, as is Xanten further north in the province of Germania Inferior.

The Limes in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (map found here)

This maps shows the places along the Limes I've visited in 2014, namely Aalen and Weissenburg (Biriciana) but also Walldürn and Osterburken at the Odenwald Limes which I visited a few years ago. Aalen is close to the spot where the Limes takes a sharp turn east to rejoin the Danube.

The towns of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and Regensburg are also shown.
 


22 Jan 2010
  Roman Leisure Centre Caerleon

So, that's where Aelius Rufus whom we last met in Segedunum, is hanging out these days: the baths - or better to be called a leisure centre - in Caerleon legionary fort. "Greetings, Aelius. How do you manage to get so many holidays?"

Aelius grins. "It's called research trips. Well, look at that weather, a nice, warm Roman bath is the best place to be these days."

Gabriele: But you're from Raetia, you're used to frost and snow.

Aelius: Sure, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate civilisation. And these baths are really impressive. You've seen your share of baths in forntier fortresses that usually hold a cohort. Caerleon can house ten times as many soldiers, and those baths are huge.

Model of the Baths as they may have looked

G. They are. Remind me a bit ot the Imperial baths in Augusta Treverorum. And like in Trier, as it's now called, not much is left of the baths.

A. That's a pity. Why don't you dig them out? You people from the Future love that.

G. We do. The problem is that people built a town over the Roman remains at some point, and you can't tear the houses down in order to dig up more Roman stuff. Though I'm sure people would find interesting things in their cellars if they poked around with a shovel a bit.

The excavated part of the outdoor swimming pool
(Today roofed in to protect the remains)

G. The visible remains of the baths in Caerleon are only a part of the entire complex. For comparison of the model size, the swimming pool is 42 metres long, that's close to the 50 metres standard of today.

Aelius sinks deeper into the warm water pool and wiggles his toes. "So, what remains are left in the future?"

G. The features that have been excavated and conservated are half of the outdoor swimming pool (natatio), and the cold bath (frigidarium, part of the building in the upper right of the model above, the one with the cupola roofs). The great basilica to the left has vanished, as have the colonnades that sourrounded the palaestra yard. The swimming pool is covered with a roof today, and part of the museum.

Remains of the cold bath

A. That's a pity about the basilica or exercise hall. It is larger than the exercise hall in my home fortress Saalburg and very beautiful. A welcome place to train on cold days when the outdoor training facilities are too uncomfortable. Look at them right now, just lots of damn mud, partly frozen.

G. Yeah, that's a British winter for you. Mud and rain. The photos of the baths in Trier give some impression of the dimensions of such a building.

A. Heh, I bet the baths in Augusta Treverorum were even fancier. Emperors like it fancy for the most. Except our friend Tony, he's more the practical sort. Well, and you people from the Future can tell how the baths may have looked from a heap of stones?

G. With some imagination, yes. And there are books with drawings, models, and some fun features like the curtains here that indicate the places where pillars have stood.

Caerleon Baths, visual display

A. Nifty. I really like those lights that work with ... what did Merlinus call it? Electricity? But why is this tablet written in two languagues? One looks like that barbarian dialect they speak here only with too many d and l, the other is an odd mix of Germanic and badly misspelled Latin words that makes no sense.

G. Oh, that's English. It is an odd mix of a language indeed, but it does make sense. The other one is called Welsh.

A. Well, I'm glad I don't need to learn those; Latin was bad enough.

G. Can't blame you. Sometimes I suspect the Romans have come up with some really complicated grammar only to annoy the people who have to learn it.

"Boy did they ever," Aelius said in his best imitation of soldiers' Latin drawl.

Caerleon Baths, floor level with part of the hypocaust ventilation

"So," Aelius continues, "you got something more you want to show your Future friends? I hope you won't chase me over to the arena in that weather."

G. Don't worry, we'll wait for the rain to stop. So there's nothing more today, but I have a reconstructed Roman river patrol ship in my archives.

A. Oh fun. I've been on one, but my shoulders didn't like it much.

G. Heh, nor did mine, but it was worth the effort.

A. You people from the Future are a bit crazy, but I like you.
 


16 Jan 2010
  Hanstein Castle - The Next Generations

This is a continuation of this post. Castle Hanstein had started crumbling, and in October 1308 the brothers Heinrich (another one *sigh*) and Lippold of Hanstein signed a contract with the archbishop Peter of Mainz, stating that they would "build a new castle of their own means, the basements of stone and the upper storeys of wood, and they would not hold any other rights to it than their male descendants being bailiffs and lords of the castle." (1) In case the lords of Hanstein died out in the male line, the castle would fall back to the archbishop.

The archbishop would pay an annual fee of 20 mark silver for the garrison of the castle who'd pay hommage to the archbishop of Mainz as their overlord but also swear fealty to the lords of Hanstein. That is one of the many examples of mixed loyalties in the feudal system that could lead to problems. It didn't seem to have happened in case of the Hanstein retainers, but there are other examples.

The Hanstein family had large possessions in the surroundings and grew more wealthy. Soon they not only paid hommage to the archbishop (later Prince Elector) of Mainz, but also to the Landgrave of Hessen, the bishop of Fulda and others of whom they held lands and rights. It was a particularly explosive corner because so many different grand feudal lords had lands and interests so close to each other. Even today the area marks the corner between the counties of Hessen, Lower Saxony and Thuringia.

Those feudal lords were feuding with each other more often than not, and things got increasingly messy, with the lords of Hanstein in the middle of it several times. Speak about conflicting loyalties here. Contracts about armed assisstance and neutrality were signed and broken, and the lords of Hainstein got quite a reputation. Robber barons (Raubritter), some called them, though they were not the only familiy that tried to make the best out of the strifes that tore Germany in the Middle Ages.

In 1415 the Landgrave Ludwig of Hessen built a castle of his own on the other side of the Werra river, in sight of the Hanstein. It is called Ludwigstein and today houses a youth hostel. The 'my castle is bigger than your castle'-syndrome, I guess. :)

Hanstein Castle must have suffered during those feuds, and repairs are mentioned several times. In the 15th the walls were strengthened and room made to get the cattle and peasants inside for safety.

But the methods of warfare changed with the invention of gunpowder, and the hilltop castles no longer proved safe and had long since ceased to be comfortable. The ever expanding Hanstein family moved to their manors in the lands around the castle, and in 1683 Hanstein Castle was officially abandoned.

The castle fell into ruins until members of the extended family started some repairs and built a hall for family meetings in 1840. During the Cold War, the castle was closed to the public; a listening post was set up on the hill. After the reunion, the castle was repaired and reopened for the public and is now a popular - albeit luckily not yet overpopulated - destination for hiking tours and Sunday outings. There is an annual Mediaeval festival and the castle has been used as film location (some scenes of the TV miniseries Der Medicus, based on Gordon's novel The Phyiscian, were filmed in the castle).

The photos show details from the palas building of the castle.

More photos can be found here.
 




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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Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

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Dog Sledding With Huskies
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The Baltic Sea

A Baltic Sea Cruise

The Curonian Spit in Lithuania
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Geology of the Curonian Spit






Roman History
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Miscellanea
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Roman History

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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

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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
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Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
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Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
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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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