The Lost Fort

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


30 Jun 2012
  I'm Back Online

After a good deal of fiddling with cables - I'm not good at deciphering the odd glyphs that come with manuals these days - and trying to find the places where to type in the starter code and other information, both my computer and the laptop are back communicating with the net, and the phone works as well.

So I can go back to the usual work, but for now I'll leave you with some lovely pics of the Kiel Canal in the evening.

The Kiel Canal in the evening

It's way too hot here, and in the evenings we get the usual thunderstorms. This is going to develop into the typical German summer of heat, thunderstorms, rain, cool weather, hot again, thunderstorms ..... We've been through that the last two years as well.

Another view past sunset

I'm hunting down some reliable information about the Kiel Canal for a post, since I have so many photos of that one - it takes about 8 hours to cross it and there were plenty of views - not to mention the lock at Kiel-Holtenau we passed on the way to the Baltic Sea in the morning after we'd been traveling through the canal during the night.
 


20 Jun 2012
  Views from the Neva - Some St.Petersburg Impressions

A smaller ship like our cruise ship has a few advantages, among them the fact that the ship could get closer (in)to the towns than the big monsters that have to stay in the larger outer harbours. So she sailed up the Neva to anchor directly in town (same with the Daugava in Riga; and we got pretty close to the Old Town in Stockholm, too). That will make for a little series of photos.

Cranes in the inner freight harbour

I took those photos when the ship left St.Petersburg - with an extra swing towards the first of the bridges that connects the Vasilyevsky Island with the mainland to the south. There had been a thunderstorm in the morning after a hot day before, and towards the evening, the clouds started to let up, though they still were pretty impressive. I liked the surrealistic look of the cranes against the sky.

Annunciation Bridge, with St.Isaac's Cathedral in the background (mainland side)

Above is a view of the Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Annunciation Bridge, for those who don't want to get a knot in their tongue by pronouncing Russian, lol), the frist of the bridges that span the Neva, coming from the direction of the Bay of Finland. The second bridge in the background is the Palace Bridge, and the golden cupola belongs to St.Isaac's Cathedral.

Annunciation Bridge, on the Vasilyevsky side

The Annunciation Bridge has been renovated in 2007 when it also got its current name; before it had been known as Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge. Both bridges are drawn up for some hours every night to let transport vessels pass; thus effectively cutting Vasilyevsky Island off the mainland. This can end in a not so nice surprise for those who missed the time; they'll get stuck until about 5 o'clock in the morning.

The Vasilyevsky side of the Neva

The southern embarkment of the river - on the Vasilyevsky side - has some of the oldest houses in St.Petersburg (early 18th century). I got a nice view from my cabin, too, but the upper decks are a better place for taking photos. The canals and streets on this part of the island show a regular, square pattern that indicates a town planned on the drawing board.

The four masted barque Sedov

Another pretty sight was the four-masted square rigged barque STS Sedov; a training ship for cadets of various schools of navigation in Russia (mostly Murmansk and St.Petersburg). She was just preparing for a voyage around the world and would leave two days later.

The ship has an interesting history. She was built in Germany in 1921 as Magdalene Vinnen (later Kommodore Johnsen), a freight carrying sailing ship, and one of the largest, too, with 117,5 metres length. Today she's only surpassed by the Royal Clipper (134,8 m).

The Sedov against the Vasilyevsly skyline

After WW2 she came to Russia as war reparation and was renamed Sedov, after the Arctic explorer Georgy Sedov who had died on an expedition in 1914. She served as sail training vessel of the Soviet Navy until 1957, then she was used as an oceanographic research ship until 1966. In the following years, the old lady was only infrequently used until she got overhauled in 1981. Besides new technical equipment and a fresh layer of paint, she also got a glass-domed restaurant and cinema. The Sedov must have been the most luxurious training ship after that. After the independence of Latvia, she got transfered from Riga (her home since 1982) to Murmansk.

Mary's Annunciation Church on the Vasilyevsky side, seen thrugh the rigs of the Sedov

I saw a TV report just a few days ago that she had another thorough renovation in the dock of Wismar in Germany in 1995. She had been a white bird until 2005 when a movie about the Pamir that sank in 1957, was filmed on the Sedov and she got the black paint

The Sedov participated in windjammer races already during Soviet times and won a number of prices. Today she still serves as training ship but also accepts paying guests. Though I'm not sure I'd like to climb the riggings. *grin* Albeit seeing her in fulls sails might be worth it.

Another surrealistic photos of cranes in the freight harbour

The Neva is only 74 km long, running from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, but its water discharge puts it on place three after the Volga and the Danube. The river is navigable throughout and part of the Volga-Baltic waterway which already the Vikings used.

View over the Neva from the Peter and Paul Fortress

The water flow from Lake Ladoga to the Neva is pretty consistant all year round, so the floods that so often hit St.Petersburg are caused by the inflow of the Baltic Sea during storms. The Neva freezes from December to mid-April, in summer the temperature peaks at 17-20°C.

View from the Stock Exchange place to the Peter and Paul Fortress

The last steps in the formation of the river were the glaciers of the last Ice Age and their retreat which caused the Littorina Sea to form, 7-9 metres above present sea level. A wide strait between the delta and the future Lake Ladoga was covered by water; the former bed of the Tosna river. But the land around the lake rose faster and thus a closed reservoir developed (the race of seal particular to Lake Ladoga is a witness from that time). The rising level of the lake flooded a moraine ridge and ran into the valley at the Ivanovo rapids, the modern Neva with its tributaries Tosna and Mga formed about 2000 BC. The average decline of the river is 4.2 metres.

View from the Stock Exchange to the Palace Embankment

The development of St.Petersburg altered the hydrological network of the delta. The town was founded in 1703, and Peter the Great did not care much that he picked a low and swampy area for his much needed Baltic Sea harbour. Tons of earth had to be moved which was used to raise the city; countless timber posts had to be dug into the ground, and canals had to be built for drainage. When the work was completed, the delta of the Neva consisted of 48 canals and rivers, and a hundred islands. Some of the canals were filled in over time so that today only 42 islands remain. A tour through the canals is one of the nicest ways to explore St.Petersburg.

View towards the Eremitage

The area belonged to the realm of Veliky Novgorod, also known as Holmgård in the Norse sagas, since the 9th century; a time when the population was a mix of Slavic and Scandinavian elements, the latter ruling as the Rurikids. Several Norse kings spent a time of exile in Novgorod.

Novgorod had access to the rivers leading south via the river Volkhov / Lake Ilmen, while the route via the Neva / Lake Ladoga went further east; both made Novgorod a trade centre in the Middle Ages. The Hansa League erected their own depedance or kontor, the 'Peterhof', in 1192, thus making the place one of the earliest parts of the rising trade net.

Sunset over the palace embankment

Quarrels and outright war with the Swedes were almost a constant feature of the area. In 1240, Prince Alexander Yaroslavich won a great battle against them which earned him the name Alexander Nevksy; he still features as popular Russian hero. Later, during the Great Northern War 1700-1721, Peter the Great would integrate the lands around the Neva into the Russian Empire and found the town named after him.

White nights at the Neva, with the golden spike of the Admirality in the background
(photo taken from out of the bus)

St.Petersburg became the capital of the Russian Empire in 1712. It was renamed Leningrad after the revolution and suffered a devastating siege during WW2 which was only broken in January 1944. After the glasnost, it regained its old name St.Petersburg. But the white nights at the Neva never changed.

Source:
Website of the Sedov
 


11 Jun 2012
  Raised Bog in the Solling-Vogler Nature Park

The weather didn't play nice last week, raining on the Queen's jubilee and generally making a nuisance of itself. Though around here the trees and plants needed the water; it had been very dry. Still, it's a good reason to post some sunny photos.

Timber trackway in the Mecklenbruch bog

I'm also pretty busy at work, and to delve into the photos of the places I visited during my last voyage and post about them will require lots of research about the Hansa League (last I dealt with that topic was in the 80ies), the Teutonic Knights and other subjects. I suppose there will be some older stuff first, like the Porta Nigra in Trier.

A tower for a better overview

But let's have a look at the place in the title of this post. The Solling-Vogler Nature Park lies to the north-west of Göttingen, stretching down to the Weser river. The other Nature / National Park I've been posting about several times, the Harz, is to the north-east. The mountains in the Solling are gentler than the highest Harz ones, but both landscapes belong to the German mittelgebirge (another word the English language snagged out of our pocket, it seems).

View from the tower over the bog

The Mecklenbruch bog encompasses 63 hectares; only a small part of it is accessible via the timber trackway, the rest is left free of any human influence. The bog was endangered like so many others (a lot of which have disappeared entirely during history) by drainage and adjacent tree farms, but a project to undo those human-made changes at its fringes is going on for some years now and the bog stands a good chance to survive. It is the home of a number of endangered flora (fe. sundew, a sort of cranberry - Vaccinium oxycoccus) and fauna (dragonflies).

View from the tower, different angle

A raised bog needs a cool and wet (minimum of 800 mm rain per annum) climate to develop, because raised bogs don't have any contact to groundwater. The second requirement is an acidic substrate that's impermeable to water - in case of the Mecklenbruch that is provided by weathered loess. Raised bogs are also called ombrotrophic (rain-fed). It tiook 4500 years for a 5 metres high peat layer to develop under those conditions.

View to the trackway

And that's how it works. What started out as lake would over time turn into a marsh, then fen, carr (a peat or silt filled lake; see photo below) and eventually a bog. Sphagnum mosses will settle on the saturated ground; they can take up 20-30 times their own dry weight in water. While their lower part slowly decays and turns into peat, they grow in height, eventually raising the ground beyond groundwater level. At that point, we call it a raised bog.

A carr in the Mecklenbruch bog

Thus the centre of an ombotrohpic bog is a treeless dome with true bog conditions, while on the outskirts there are strips of fen, carrs, and wetland vegetation (birches and shrubs). Those areas may be reached by groundwater. The trackway in the Mecklenburch bog leads through that sort of terrain for the most; the true bog can best be seen from the tower.

A little lake

There are similar raised bogs in the Harz, and most of those are not accessible to the public, either. The Harz had another problem that endangered the bogs: the waterworks needed for mountaineering (esp. silver). There is a whole system of artificial lakes that would provide water power to wash ore out of the stone. That system today is a Cultural Heritage; the Oderteich is part of it.

Some drama queen clouds

The clouds on the last photo looked very dramatic, but they didn't pose any real threat; the day remained fine and dry. I plan to go back there in autumn; I'm sure the bog will look even more atmospheric then - maybe with a bit of mist for a suitable ghost hour. :)

Here is another collection of photos.
 




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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Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

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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
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Cavalry Barracks

Roman Militaria

Armour
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Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

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Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum
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Isis Worship
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Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
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Villa Rustica Wachenheim

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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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