The Lost Fort

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


24 Oct 2016
  14th Century Stonghold and Film Set - A Virtual Tour of Doune Castle

Ivanhoe has been there, Monty Python's knights in search of a grail, and Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, the star crossed lovers from Outlander. Castle Doune, near Stirling in Scotland, has developed a certain sort of fame as film location (1).

In Outlander, the castle stands in for Castle Leoch, seat of Collum MacKenzie, chief of the clan, and his brother Dougal who is a supporter of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. It fits then, that in real history the castle was held for the prince by a McGregor of Glengyle in 1745.

If you are interested to see where Claire spent the first weeks after she went through a magic time-travel portal stone, follow me on a virtual tour of the castle:

Doune Castle, north front

Contrary to most castles in Scotland that have been altered over the times, Doune is the product of a single building period and has survived relatively unchanged until today.

It was built by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany (1340-1420, duke since 1398), son of King Robert II of Scotland and regent of Scotland in all but name since 1388, ruling first for his father, then his brother Robert III, and finally for his nephew, James I, who was a prisoner of the English. Robert Stewart became Earl of Menteith by marriage to the heiress Margaret Graham, and was granted the lands on which Castle Doune now stands in 1361. The castle was at least partially complete in 1381 when a charter was signed there. I'll get back to the history of the caste in another post.

The courtyard

Doune was obviously planned as courtyard with buildings on all sides, but the only buildings that were completed are the gatehouse tower with the rooms of the lord and his family, the great hall, and the kitchen tower with kitchen and guest rooms. Those buildings range along the north and part of the west side. Doune can be seen as development towards the palaces arranged around a courtyard like Linlithgow, built in the 15th and 16th century.

Hall and Gatehouse Tower, seen from the courtyard

Assumedly, Albany had originally intended to build his personal lodgings at the south side of the yard (there are three unusually large windows in the curtain wall), but they were never completed and he lived in the Gate Tower.

The advantage of the large courtyard is that film crews can set up timber buildings against the curtain walls. I've spotted a few in Outlander. They also replaced the lawn with mud.

Doune Castle, Gatehouse Tower

The gatehouse tower has a size of 18 x 13 metres (59x43 ft) and rises to 29 metres (95 ft) (2). It held the lord's hall, the lady's chamber, and several more rooms. The function of most of those can only be guessed. There is a projecting round tower with an additonal rectangular tower on the north-east corner which holds the latrines and chimney flues, so the duke and duchess got ensuite rooms with central heating.

Another possible function could have been to shoot missiles at attackers of the gate - see the arrowslit windows. The somewhat older Dunstaffnage Castle once had a corner tower serving that purpose.

Entrance archway

The 14 metres long vaulted passage was once secured by timber doors and cross-bared iron grilles, so called yetts, on both ends. The outer one can still be seen. There is also a slit in the roof from which one could shoot arrows and any intruder. On the right side is the porter's room which serves as castle shop today, on the left a prison cell. The entire entrance was separated from the rest of the castle, and the thick stone vault protected the tower from fire.

The gate vault also makes for a scenic entrance to the castle to ride through.

Kitchen Tower, seen from the courtyard

The kitchen tower can be considered as second tower house, measuring 17 x 8 metres (56x26 ft). The kitchen is on hall level, beneath are storage cellars. The kitchen had an oven for baking bread, and an 18 ft wide fireplace, large enough to roast entire animals on a spit. The vaulted ceiling has smoke holes above the windows, and there are slop-drains on one side. The Jacobite garrison built a bread oven in the kitchen, but that doesn't remain.

The great fireplace in the kitchen

A staircase leads to the so-called Royal Appertments on the upper floor. They are also known as Queen Mary's Chambers, for Mary Queen of Scots who briefly stayed in Doune Castle a few times. The chamber plus adjacent sleeping closet and latrine were fit to host guests of high rank. The location over the kitchen made the rooms some of the warmest in the castle.

Servery, seen from the entrance to the Great Hall

There is a triangular anteroom which connects the kitchen tower with the great hall: the servery. You can see two arched serving hatches on the left, big enough to pass a roast hog through; a feature unusual for the period. In other castles like Caernarfon, the way between kitchen and hall was much longer. Looks like Albany wanted his food steaming hot.

The Great Hall

The great hall is an impressive room of 20 x 8 metres (66x28 ft) and 12 metres (39 ft) high, with a vaulted timber roof (reconstructed in the 19th century) with a louver in the middle. The hall has no fireplace and was probably heated by a central fire in a fire basket like the one you can see today, though I wonder how much use that would be in a room of such dimensions. A roaring fireplace or two should have worked better. Well, maybe they had enough mulled wine to get warm from the inside. :-)

Great Hall with entrance and minstrel's gallery

The wooden minstrel's gallery is also reconstructed. A staircase leads down to the buttery where the wine and beer were kept. The walkways on the battlements could also be reached from the gallery.

Five windows of different shapes lit the hall. The large dais window in the back where the lord would have sat, hides a little side door to a latrine.

The double fireplace in the Lord's Hall

The large room above the entrance in the gatehouse tower and adjacent to the great hall is called the Duke's Hall. It would have been used for smaller parties and audiences. The room has an unusual double fireplace which is original, but the furniture dates to the renovation of 1883. A staircase on the north side gives access to the minstrel's gallery and the battlements.

The Duchess' Hall

The hall above the Lord's Hall is supposed to have been the duchess' hall. At the courtyard side is some sort of large alcove that may have been screened from the rest of the room and served as oratory or private chapel (on the right side of the photo). On the wall is a so-called credence which held the consectated vessels and a basin with holy water. There would have been a small altar as well. The ceiling of the hall is missing today.

The duchess' bedchamber

The round tower at to the Gatehouse Tower (see photo above) housed the bedchambers of the duke and duchess. The chimney flues were not enough, both rooms also got fireplaces.

Those castles were cold; no wonder people back then wore several layers of clothes all the time. Claire's dresses are not only pretty, they'd be warm, too.

Cellars in the Kitchen Tower

Originally, the topmost floor might have been divided into smaller chambers for the duke's family and higher ranking members of the staff and the duchess' ladies-in-waiting. A man of the social status of the Duke of Albany would have had a permanent staff of some 50 people - most of those had to bed down in the great hall and kitchen.

The Duke of Albany died in 1420, and both dukedom and regency passed to his son Murdoch (born 1362). When King James I finally returned to Scotland after his ransom had been paid in 1424, he was not happy about the way some nobles had taken up control of the kingdom. He had Duke Murdoch of Albany and his sons arrested for treason and executed in 1425. Doune Castle fell to the Crown and served as hunting lodge and dower house for the Scottish monarchs during the next decades.

Another shot of the castle from the outside

Footnotes
1) Some Winterfell scenes of the pilot to A Game of Thrones have been filmed in Doune, but the pilot was never aired and filming of the series took place in Ireland, among other locations. I don't know if any of the Winterfell scenes taken in Doune remained in the season 1.
2) All measurements according to Wikipedia. The Historic Scotland guidebook gives no measurements.

Literature
Doreen Grove: Doune Castle; guidebook by Historic Scotland, Edinburgh 2007
 


21 Oct 2016
  The Volcano that Burped - The Blue Dome near Eschwege

The Blue Dome (Blaue Kuppe) near Eschwege in northern Hessia is an interesting geological feature. It is a 10-12 million year old volcano that never really erupted but got stuck in the surrounding sandstone instead. The area was used as quarry from the 17th to th 20th century which shaped most of the bizarre rock formations. Today it is a Nature Reserve.

Blue Dome, view into the south bassin

We have to go back in time a bit. The uppermost rock layer in the area is sandstone which got deposed there during the Triassic period (250-200 million years ago). It's the same strata that can be found in other places along the Werra / Weser river - the Blue Dome is only a few miles from the Werra (1).

The north bassin (with sheep)

Some 12 million years ago, a volcano started its way up through the sandstone. This happened frequently in the area - the Meissner mountains include layers of basalt from volcanic activity during that time. But in case of the Blue Dome, the volcano never truly erupted.

Detail shot of the south bassin

Instead, the volcano just burped, so to speak, leaving behind three conduits of basalt among the sandstone. The magma got stuck in the sandstone strata where it cooled into the usual longish hexagonal pieces. Only a bit of tuff reached the surface.

Basalt and buchite (right), tilted by shifting of the ground

The surrounding sandstone was changed by the heat and pressure; the quartz molecules in the stone turned to a molten glass stone called buchite, also known as 'fried sandstone'. The basalt is rich in olivine (a magnesium iron silicate), which gives a ochre tinge to the usually blueish basalt (2).

Closeup of the olivine basalt

What once was a perfect dome eroded over time. Further changes were made by quarrying the sandstone and basalt, so that we now have two bassins with remaining rock formations.

Basalt, buchite, sandstone, and a tuff layer on top

The rock formations and their interesting genesis already attracted the naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). I couldn't find the exact date of his visit, but since he studied in Göttingen, it could have been some time around 1789. He also visted geological formations at the Rhine during that time.

Remaining wall of the north bassin against the light

The Blue Dome is today a Nature Reserve because of its interesting geology. There is a way along the ridge of the bassins, but the bassins themselves are officially off-limit. *Looks if someone watches her going a bit closer to the rocks. Sneaks around and takes some photos.*

South bassin, another detail shot from the other side

Footnotes
1) I wonder if I should write a post detailing the development from the Variscan orogeny and the Zechstein sea to the Mesozoicum since I've refered to these things in several posts.
2) Olivine usually is greenish in colour, but when the iron comes in contact with air, it will rust.

 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, the Baltic Countries, and central 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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Gehrden / Brakel
Vernawahlshausen: Mediaeval Murals

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European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
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Palatine Seat Tilleda
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The Nydam Ship

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Romans Remains

Traces of a Failed Invasion
Roman Exhibitions, Haltern am See
Varus Statue, Haltern am See
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Limes Fort Aalen
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Limes Fort Osterburken
The Discovery
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Limes Fort Saalburg
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Shrine of the Standards

Roman villae at the Moselle
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Roman villae at the Rhine
The Villa at Wachenheim: Introduction
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The Necropolis of Oldendorf

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Bronze and Iron Age Remains at the Werra


England

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Roman and Medieaval Chester

Hexham
The Abbey - Introduction
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Clifford Tower
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Roman Bath in the Fortress
York Minster: Architecture

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Scarborough
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Wall Fort Birdoswald
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Wall Fort Segedunum
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A Virtual Tour
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History: The Campbells Are Coming
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Stirling
History: Robert the Bruce

Castles at the Scottish West Coast
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Inchcolm Abbey
Arriving at Inchcolm

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Ring of Brodgar
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The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Introduction

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Staffa


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The Smallest House in Great Britain

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Master James of St.George
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History
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Pembroke
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Denmark

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Viking Museum Roskilde
To come


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Akershus Fortress in Oslo
History: The Time of King Håkon V
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Vardøhus Fortress
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The Vasa Museum in Stockholm

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Gnisvärd Ship Setting


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Porvoo
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Ozeaneum Stralsund: The North Sea Life
Red squirrels

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Spring in the Hardenberg Castle Gardens
Spring at the 'Kiessee' Lake
Spring in the Meissner
Memories of Summer
Summer Hiking Tours 2016
Autumn in the Meissner
Autumn at Werra and Weser
Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake


United Kingdom

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

Scottish Sea Shores
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Mull: Craignure to Fionnphort
Pentland Firth
Staffa
Summer Days in Oban
Summer Nights in Oban

Scotland by Train
West Highland Railway

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



Mediaeval History
- General Essays
- Specific Topics

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

Roman History
- The Romans at War
- Roman Life and Religion

Other Times
- Neolithicum to Iron Age
- Post-Mediaeval History
-
Miscellanea
- Geology


Mediaeval History

General Essays

Mediaeval Art and Craft

Mediaeval Art
The Choir Screen in the Cathedral of Mainz
The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
The Hunting Frieze in Königslutter Cathedral
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


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

Hanseatic Architecture
Examples of Brick Architecture
Hall Houses (Dielenhäuser)

Goods and Trade
Stockfish Trade

Towns of the Hanseatic League
Riga
Stralsund
Tallinn / Reval

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


Some historical events are linked under more than one country / subtitle due to the overarching nature of history.


History by Country

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
Duke Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus

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

Feuds and Rebellions

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

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


England

Kings of England

King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

Great Noble Houses
The Dukes of Brittany
The Earls of Richmond

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
The Early Stewart Kings

Local Troubles

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding

Scotland and England

The Wars of Independence
Alexander of Argyll
The Fight for Stirling Castle


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Wales and England

A History of Rebellion
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

Feuds and Rebellions

Rebels
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Livonian Towns

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390


Poland

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig


Bohemia

Royal Dynasties

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
King Sigismund and the Hussite Wars


Roman History

The Romans at War

Forts and Fortifications

The German Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg

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

Border Life
Exercise Halls
Mile Castles and Watch Towers
Soldiers' Living Quarters
Cavalry Barracks

Campaigns and Battles

Maps
The Romans in Germania

The Pre-Varus Invasion in Germania
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction

Miscellaneous Events

The Legend of Alaric's Burial

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


Roman Life and Religion

Religion and Public Life

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

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

Architecture
Roman Public Baths

Domestic Life

Roman villae
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
Bathing Habits
Children's Toys
Face Pots


Other Times

Neolithicum to Iron Age

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
The Hutewald Project in the Solling
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Neolithic Remains
Stone Burials of the Funnelbeaker Culture
The Necropolis of Oldendorf

Bronze Age / Iron Age
The Nydam Ship

Scotland

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

Bronze Age / Iron Age
Clava Cairns
The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Their Function in Iron Age Society

Scandinavia

Bronze / Iron Age
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd / Gotland


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)


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History and Literature

The Weimar Classicism
The Weimar Classicism - Introduction

Theodor Fontane
Short Biography of Theodor Fontane
Fontane Ballads, 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


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
Sandstone Formations: Daneil's Cave
Sandstone Formations: Devil's Wall
Sandstone Formations: The Klus Rock

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations
Salt Springs at the Werra

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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