The Lost Fort

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

21 Jul 2019
  Pretty Porvoo - A Mediaeval Town in Finland

I'm not only collecting new travel destinations and lots of photos, I still have an archive full of material from former tours. So here's one of the places I've visited during my Baltic Sea Cruise in 2012: Porvoo in Finland.

The old town with its 550 buildings is a treasure of old timbered houses in bright colours, and cobblestone lanes, plus a fine stone and brick church. Come and walk along with me a bit.

Cute timber houses

Porvoo (also known by its Swedish name Borgå) lies some 50 kilometres east of Helsinki. The layout of the old town dates to the Middle Ages, but Porvoo suffered from several severe fires, most of them due to wars, so most ot the houses date to the 1760ies. But the inhabitants stubbornly erected them on the same sites and pretty much to the same design several times over.

Porvoo was lucky to escape a Town Makeover, since the magistrate - after popular resistance to the new urban plans in the 19th century - decided to set up a new town on the other side of the river instead of destroying the old houses and replacing them with higher buildings to create more accomodation space.

Another lane with timber houses

Porvoo is connected to Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea by the river Porvoonjoki which had been a trade route already for the Iron Age tribe of the Tavastians, who still were around in the Middle Ages. Since they remained pagan, the Catholic Church and Birger Jarl, the regent of Sweden, lauchned a crusade and defeated them in 1250ies. Afterwards, the area was colonised by German and Swedish craftsmen and merchants; their main settlement was called Saksala.

Old warehouses at the harbour

The settlement got the rights of a town in 1346 by the Swedish king Magnus IV Eriksson, making Porvoo the second oldest town in Finland.

Other sources have 1380, but it makes sense to agree with the date of King Magnus' reign, since it would fit with the peace of Nöteborg (1339), where Magnus and the Grand Prince of Moscow divided their spheres of influence in Finland. Magnus may have been interested in enhancing the importance of the harbour and market place Saksala / Porvoo that way.

Houses at the harbour

The red warehouses at the river are an iconic sight of Porvoo. The current ones are about 300 years old, but there had been storage houses at the harbour before. The red ochre paint was added in the 18th century to honour the visit of King Gustav III of Sweden.

The red paint not only makes the houses look more pretty, it also prevents the timber from damage by water and sun. Today, most of the buildings host shops and restaurants. More houses that follow the old pattern have been added.

Houses at the market square

King Gustav Vasa of Sweden started his own town project with the foundation of Helsinki (Helsingfors) in 1550. To get rid of the competition, he ordered the citizens of Porvoo to move to the new town. He also introduced the Lutheran Church in Sweden.

The decline of Porvoo lasted only a short time. Gustav Vasa's successor Johan III reestablished the town privileges of Porvoo in 1579 (1). A little historical connection for you: Johan was married to Katarzyna (Catherine) Jagiełłonica of the Polish-Lithuanian ruling family; their son Sigismund would eventually inherit both thrones, until he was deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle Karl XI in 1604.

The town hall

Finland remained a zone of contest of influence between Sweden and Russia. Porvoo was more than once involved in the frequent Russo-Swedish wars (2). During the war at the end of the 16th century, the town was twice burned by the Russian army.

Porvoo was again destroyed in 1708 during the Great Northern War. But even without war, Porvoo met with destruction during the great fire of 1760. The town was rebuilt on its Mediaeval foundations once again.

Another lovely house

Finland was finally conquered by Russia in the early 19th century, and annexed to Russia as an autonomous grand duchy with its own constitution. And it was in Porvoo, not Helsinki, where the defining diet was held in 1809. Tsar Alexander I visited the town and confirmed the new Finnish constitution - which was basically the Swedish one from 1772.

The cathedral of Porvoo

One of the central meeting places of the diet was the cathedral of Porvoo. It stands on top of the hill around which the town clutters. Its oldest parts date to 1410, replacing an elder timber construction. The building was expanded in the mid -15th century.

The church was victim of war and fire more than once, much like the town, which may explain the mix of stone and bricks that have been used for its construction. Last time a fire broke out was in 2006; the timber roof was destroyed, though the stone and brick parts survived mostly intact.

Detail of the gable decorations

The church may have been built by the anonymous German 'Pernjanan mestari' who also constructed several other churches in Finland following the same pattern. The outstanding feature of the church in Porvoo is its separate belfry (those are commonly found in Flanders, but not in Germany and Scandinavia).

Interestingly, the cathedral is still dedicated to Mary, something you would more likely expect for a Catholic church.

The belfry

The charming little church was elevated to cathedral when the Protestant episcopal see was moved from Vyborg (Swedish: Viborg) to Porvoo in 1721. At that time, Porvoo was the second largest city in Finland.

Vyborg had been in Swedish hands, but was conquered by Tsar Peter the Great during the Great Northern War in 1710. Today, the town belongs to the Leningrad Oblast in Russia, after it had been recaptured from Finland during WW2.

Cathedral, interior

Porvoo / Borgå is the episcopal see of the Swedish speaking communities in Finland as well as the German-Lutherian parish in Helsinki since 1923. In 1992, the Porvoo Common Statement was issued and celebrated in the cathedral. It is an inter-church agreement of a non-institutional community of four Anglican and eight Nordic and Baltic-Lutheran churches to work together.

Lane with small houses and tourists

1) Johann was a son of Gustav Vasa by his second wife and succeeded his half-brother Erik XIV in 1568, after the latter had been deposed due to madness.
2) A list of the wars can be found on Wikipedia.

7 Jul 2019
  Richmond Castle - Later History of the Castle and its Architecture

I've detailed the history of Richmond Castle in the context of the Honour of Richmond in two posts (here and here). But with some more photos and information left, there is material for a final post about the castle.

The later history of the castle is less glamorous, but Richmond is among the places that gained interest as picturesque tourist sites since J.M.W. Turner and other artists painted the ruins in the 18th and 19th century. It still looks quite picturesque today.

View from the cockpit garden to the castle

The castle was derelict in 1538. The third duke of Richmond carried out some repairs to the keep in the 1760ies. One of his successors leased the castle out to the army. They gave it to the New York Militia in 1855, who used it as their headquarters and built a barrack block against the western curtain wall. The keep was used as depot and another building set up beside the gate (that one still exists today).

Military use continued when the castle became the headquarters of the Northern Territorial Army in 1908 under the command of Robert Baden-Powell who later founded the Boy Scouts.

Richmond Castle, curtain walls from the outside

During WW1, the castle served as base for a Non-Combatant Corps. Those were made up of conscientious objectors, conscripts who would not fight but contributed to the war in non-combat roles. They lived in camps under miliary discipline.

Some of those went even further and refused to be involved in any work connected with the war due to their belief. Sixteen of those were detained at Richmond in the building at the gate which formerly had serverd as armoury for the militia and was now changed into prison cells. They were sent to France in May 1916, charged under Field Regulations and condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted to then years hard labour.

The Victorian barrack block at the western curtain wall was demonlished in 1931. The roof of the keep was used as watch post during WW2, and the cells held prisoners of war.

Curtain walls, different angle

The castle was given into the care of English Heritage in 1984. I was there on a dreary day with few other visitors around. Despite the grey sky, it proved a fine addition to my 'castle collection'.

Domestic range along the curtain walls

Richmond Castle is situated above a cliff lining the valley of the river Swale. Most of the 11th century curtain walls have survived. Considerable ruins also remain of the buildings lining the curtain walls. That makes Richmond Castle one of the best preserved examples of Norman buildings in Britain.

On the battlements (to the left is the curtain wall of the Cockpit Garden)

There had been a barbican and outer bailey in front of the main gate, but nothing remains of it. Another bailey overlooking the river on the other side of the caste is known as Cockpit Garden. Parts of its wall are almost intact. Today the place has been styled as Baroque garden, and it may have been used as garden already in the Middle Ages, providing the castle with vegetables and herbs. A door leading to it from the solar of Scolland's Hall could also point at the use of the garden as pleasure ground.

The keep (with the 19th century barrack to the right)

The most outstanding feature of Richmond Castle is the keep. Instead of the motte-and-bailey type which also is a Norman pattern, the keep of Richmond is a square keep (like Carlise or Bamburgh). It is topped by four square turrets. Three windows overlook the market place. They might have given access to a balcony where Duke Conan and his successors could have made public appearances.

The keep seen from outside the castle (with the three windows)

The keep has been altered several times during the period when the castle was in use, but the main Norman features remain intact.

The first entrance to the castle was an arched gateway from the 11th century. Duke Conan built the keep over of it in the mid-12th century, and incorporated the gateway into the basement of the keep. You can see the different stones - Conan's masons used well-squared stones, while the older parts of the walls are made of mortared ashlar.

Basement of the keep

The next king to alter the keep was Edward I who liked a bit more luxury. He inserted a vault in the basement and a spiral staircase to connect the floors.

Today, the roof and floors have been restored and the keep stands to its originally 30 metres (100 feet).

The keep, interior of the first floor

The 11th century great hall, known as Scolland's Hall after a constable of the castle, is one of the most important examples of Norman domestic architecture in England. It is a two storey building with a great hall and solar on the first floor, and an undercroft that may have served as storage rooms. You can still see the sockets that supported the beams for the timber floor.

Scolland's Hall

The hall could be reached from the outside by a set of stairs (which has collaped long since). The solar had a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the Cockpit Garden, as well as a small staircase leading down to it. One of the windows of the great hall was later changed into a door leading to the adjacent buildings.

The hall must have suffered from a fire at some time. Alterations, especially in the windows and the dais in the great hall, in front of the solar, have been made in the 13h century. The Gold Hole Tower was probably built at the same time as additional protection of Scolland's Hall.

Remains of the domestic buildings, interior

A great hall and a solar did not offer enough living space for the lord and his family and guests, of course. A set of domestic buildings with a chapel and several chambers have been set up against the eastern and southern curtain walls in the 12th and 13th centuries. Together with Scolland's Hall, the domestic range forms the shape of an L.

Again, the more comfortable and the representative rooms are situated in the first floor, including a great chamber and a chapel which was likely used by the lord and his family, or the king when he visited. The lower storey was taken up by the kitchen, buttery and pantry.

Curtain walls with Robin Hood Tower

Three square towers once lined the eastern curtain wall. The southern one of those, Gold Hole Tower, still remains to its original height. The middle tower has collapsed, but of the northern Robin Hood Tower, considerable ruins are left, including a chapel dedicated to St.Nicholas in the lower floor (which had been closed when I visited). Its lower part dates to the 11th century, but two additional storeys were added later, likely during King Edward I's improvements of the castle.

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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Roman and Medieaval Chester

The Abbey - Introduction
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Clifford Tower
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Museum Gardens
The Old Town
Along the Ouse River


Malcolm III and the First Battle of Alnwick

Henry II and William of Scotland
Edward I to Edward III

From the Conquest to King John
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The Architecture

From the Romans to the Tudors
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The Architecture



Views from the Castle

The Wallace Monument


A Virtual Tour of the Castle
The Early Stewart Kings
Royal Dower House, and Decline

Guarding the Sound of Mull

An Ancient MacDougall Stronghold
The Wars of Independence
The Campbells Are Coming
Dunstaffnage Chapel

Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle

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Inchcolm Abbey
Arriving at Inchcolm

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Neolithic Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
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Brochs and Cairns
Clava Cairns
The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Introduction

Picts and Dalriatans
Dunadd Hill Fort



Castle and Coast

The Ffwrwm

The Smallest House in Great Britain


The Historical Context
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Master James of St.George
The Castle Kitchens

From the Romans to the Victorians

Beginnings unto Bigod
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Civil War, Restoration, and Aftermath

The History of the Castle
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Llywelyn's Buildings
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The Pleasantest Spot in Wales

Pembroke Pictures
The Caves Under the Castle



To come



The Fram Museum in Oslo

Castles and Fortresses

Arkershus Fortress in Oslo
Akershus at the Time of King Håkon V
Architectural Development

Vardøhus Fortress
Defending the North for Centuries



The Vasa Museum

Historical Landscapes

Gnisvärd Ship Setting



Mediaeval Porvoo



St. Petersburg
Isaac's Cathedral
Smolny Cathedral
Impressions from the The Neva River



The History of Mediaeval Tallinn



The History of Mediaeval Riga


Historical Landscapes

The Curonian Spit
Geology of the Curonian Spit



Gdańsk / Danzig
The History of Mediaeval Gdańsk
Mediaeval and Renaissance Gdańsk

The Old Town
Jewish Kraków - Kazimierz and the Ghetto

Wrocław / Breslau
The Botanical Garden
The Wrocław Dwarfs


Ogrodzieniec Castle
A Virtual Tour
From the First Castle to the Boner Family



Cheb / Eger
Pretty Houses in the Old Town

Karlovy Vary / Karlsbad
Brief History of the Town

Kutná Hora
The Sedlec Ossuary
Walk through the Town, with St.Barbara's Church



The Old Town

Mediaeval Bruges

Mediaeval Ghent

Roman and Mediaeval Remains



Luxembourg City
A Tour of the Town



A Tour of the Town

Hiking Tours and Cruises


The Baltic Sea Coast
The Flensburg Firth
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A Tour on the Wakenitz River

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Around Bad Sooden-Allendorf
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Nature Park Solling-Vogler
Forest Pasture - Hutewald Project
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Nature Park Reinhardswald
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Harz Falcon Park
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Red squirrels

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
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Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake

United Kingdom

Mountains and Valleys
West Highland Railway

The East Coast
By Ferry to Newcastle
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Some Photos from the East Coast

Scottish Sea Shores
Crossing to Mull
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Pentland Firth
Castles Seen from Afar (Dunollie and Kilchurn)
Summer Days in Oban
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Wild Wales - With Castles
Views of Snowdownia
Views from Castle Battlements

Sea Gulls


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
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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

- Germania
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Mediaeval History
General Essays

By Country
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Other Times
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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

Early Imperial Helmets
Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum

Other Equipment
Roman Saddles

Life and 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
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
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Miscellaneous Essays

The Legend of Alaric's Burial


Wars and Frontiers

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

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

Gallia Belgica

The Batavians

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction


Roman Frontiers in Britain

The Hadrian's Wall
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
Medical Instruments

Mediaeval Warfare

Mediaeval Weapons

Castles and Fortifications
Dungeons and Oubliettes

Essays about Specific Topics


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

Towns of the Hanseatic League
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



List of Mediaeval German Emperors

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

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


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

King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


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


Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw


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


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


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


Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

(Latvia and Estonia)

The Role of the Towns in Livonia

The History of Mediaeval Riga

The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


Royal Dynasties

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

Other Times

Prehistoric Times


Neolithic Remains
Stone Burials of the Funnelbeaker Culture

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


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


The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd

Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

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

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


European Nobility
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


History in Literature and Music

History and Literature

The Weimar Classicism
The Weimar Classicism - Introduction

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
Short Biography of Theodor Fontane
(Some of Fontane's 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

Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

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

Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


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

Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite

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