The Lost Fort

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

23 May 2020
  A Bronze Age Cemetery – The Clava Cairns near Inverness

I visted the site in early summer 2013, a year before Claire Beauchamp-Randall stepped through a cleft stone into pre-Culloden Scotland, and brought a trail of visitors to the hence quite place. Back then, the Clava Cairns at Balnuaran, not far from the battlefield of Culloden, were a lovely spot, especially on a sunny day. Now the inrush of visitors – not all of them respectful to the ancient monuments, alas – has led to some damage of the site.

Clava Cairns – some standing stones and one of the cairns

The Clava Cairns consist of the remains of three cairns which are rather well preserved, with the walls still intact and only the domed roofs gone, and a number of standing stones. The stones are not as tall as those in the Ring of Brodgar, but they are placed in positions of astronomical importance. The cairns had been dated as Neolithic, but a survey by Prof. Richard Bradley in the 1990ies proved that there were constructed in the Bronze Age.

The cairns

Cairns are mounds often erected over burials and sometimes serve as sort or markers. The ones at Balnuaran date to about 2000 BC, but some additions were made a thousand years later. There may have been two to four more cairns in the row at Balnuaran, all situated on a gravel terrace above the river Nairn. Excavations have shown that the area had been settled and farmed since 2500 BC at least; prior to the erection of the cairns.

Clava Cairns, seen from the south

The specific style of the Clava Cairns – which gave the name to this type – can be found mostly in Moray and around Inverness; there are about 50 of them. The ring of gravel and ashlar that forms the basis of the cairns is set in a double ring of large kerb stones. Some of these show cup and ring markings. Over the chamber, a domed roof was erected. Originally, the cairns were about 3 to 4 metres in height. Usually, a corbelled passage leads to the inner chamber, facing south-west towards the midwinter sunset. But the middle cairn in Balnuaran is a ring cairn without a passage; it has always remained unroofed.

Some of the stones

The cairns are surrounded by stone circles in 10-15 metres distance. The spacing between the stones is rather wide. The size of the megaliths increases towards the entrance of the passages, and stones of a redder hue were chosen, while the smallest exemplars are found on the opposite side of the cairns. The stones surrounding the middle ring cairn are of roughly the same size; some are connected to the cairn by a sort of paved stone 'rays'.

More standing stones

Burials of the Clava Cairn type contained but one or two bodies. Few bone remains have been found, an no complete skeleton. Considering the work it took to erect such a cairn, one can assume that those buried there were important members of the local society, some sort of chief or priest. Or maybe a priestess – not enough bones are left to tell. Despite the passages, it seems that no further burials were added in the years after the erection of the cairns. Maybe a visit to the dead or the possibility of the dead to spiritually join the living was part of some ceremonies.

North-east cairn with megalith in the foreground

The cemetery was resused around 1000 BC. Some new burials were placed outside the cairns; bone fragments were found to date those. A few smaller momuments (like the kerb ring) were added. We don't know if the site was used for burials in between, though it doesn't seem to have been the case. It is very likely, though, that the site played a role in ceremonies during that millenium and maybe beyond. The area had always been settled.

One of the stone circles

The way the cairns are arranged, with the passage entrances facing towards the sunset at winter solstice and the various henges surrounding them point at a use of the site for astronomic and ceremonial / spiritual purposes – both of which were often linked in Bronze Age cultures. The ring and cup marks on some of the stones inside and outside the cairns may also have had some ritual significance.

Now let's have a look at the individual cairns.

The north-eastern cairn

The so-called north-east cairn is a passage grave. The chamber itself was about 4 metres high and covered by a domed stone roof; the passage was covered as well, butit was so low that a human could not have stood upright. More like a crawl space.

The passage of the north-east cairn

The outer edge of the circular cairn is supported by a kerb of larger stones that keep the rubble from disintegrating. The use of sandstone of various hues of red and beige/white for the kerb once gave it a distinct pattern.

Interior of the north-east cairn

The inner floor was paved, and the inner walls also were supported by larger kerb stones, some of them with ring and cup marks (which are not well visible on my photos, alas). Most of those stones are still in place. I could not find any information whether the domed roof was supported by beams or constructed by a layer of skilfully placed flat stones. The latter is well possible, as the houses in Skara Brae show.

North-east cairn, view out of the passage

After a short time of use, a rubble platform was heaped up to cover the kerb ring and the entrance of the passage. On that platform, a scatter of seashells and cremated bones, as well as a number of lithic artifacts, have been found which points at a later re-use of the site after the passage and chamber were sealed.

The ring cairn

The central cairn is different from the other two. It is a ring cairn without a passage way which has always been open at the centre. The ring of gravel and ashlar was supported by kerb stones outside and inside; some of the outside stones are decorated with cup marks, and, like in the other cairns, they are of contrasting hues of sandstone. The outer kerb ring has been partly destroyed.

View to the ring cairn (left)

It is assumed that the ring cairn surrounded a funeral pyre, based on finds from the 1950ies which included some charred pieces of bone. The interior was once filled with a layer of rubble as high as the kerbs, but that has been removed during the 1950ies excavation.

Standing stones with the ring cairn in the background

The placement of the ring cairn is interesting. It is set off the line of the cairns as to allow an unobstructed view between them. The ring of stones surrounding it is today incomplete (as is the one around the south-west cairn; see below).

View from the ring cairn to the north-east cairn

The function of this unusual cairn within the setting of the Clava Cairns remains unexplained, but a connection to the other cairns exists by the pattern of the standing stones. A similar ring cairn has been found in Aberdeenshire.

The south-west cairn

The south-west cairn is another passage grave, almost identical to the north-east one. It too, seems to have been in use only for a short time before a platform of rubble was erected around the cairn, and the passage entrance blocked. A stone circle was set up as well.

South-west cairn, the passage

Two of those stones were removed in the 1870ies due to the construction of a road. At the time the trees now adorning the site were planted as well. The Victorians thought that those cairns and standing stones were pagan temples and wanted to recreated the vista of an ancient druid grove.

South-west cairn, interior

Some of the red sandstone boulders supporting the passage, as well as some stones in the outer kerb and the inner layer, are decoared with cup-marks. Some of those decorations face off towards the rubble filling and must have been carved before they were built into the cairn. It is possible that they belonged to an older building and have been reused.

Closeup of the stone layers

The first excavations at the site began as early as 1828; in the 1940ies, Prof. Alexander Thorn demonstrated that the alignment of the grave entrances points to the sunset at midwinter solstice. He also measured the standing stones and found out that the stone circles correspond to geometrical patterns like ovals and triangles and form a more complex overall pattern – which may have been of astronomical sigificance – than immediately visible.

Part of a ring of standing stones

The most excessive and important work was done by Richard Bradley in the 1990ies. Bradley concluded that the entire site was constructed during a single phase, though the place may have been in use prior to the erection of the cairns (and the cup and ring marked stones – or some of them – may have been integrated into the new structures). Interesting is the amount of quartz found near the caves. Bradley suggest that stones rich in quartz may once have formed the outer layer of the cairns and the stone platforms surrounding them, so that they would have sparkled in the sun.

One of the standing stones with a cairn in the background

It must have taken considerable effort to plan and erect those cairns and standing stones; surely a communal work directed by a chief or priest. That people were willing to take time off the farming and other daily routines to work on the site shows that it must have had an important function in the local Bronze Age society.

Cairn against the trees

The pattern of the Clava Cairns with the distinct use of kerb stones and outer platforms differs from cairns in other parts of Scotland and is restricted to the area around Inverness and Moray, though the type of the chambered passage cairn itself can be found everywhere in northern Britain and Ireland.

Cairn with surrounding stones

We can only guess the purpose of sites like the cairns at Balnuaran, but a religious significance is likely due to the connection with the dead and the sun. The situation of these specific cairns at the road along the Great Glen might also point at a use as gathering site for a larger group of people, maybe several clans or tribes in the highlands.

The river Nairn near the Clava Cairns

A visitor's guide to Balnuaran of Clava – a prehistoric cemetery, by Historic Scotland.
The site about the Clava Cairns on the Ancient History Encyclopedia (though I didn't elaborate on the more esoteric statements about caves and labyrinths being the navel of the earth and such mentioned on that page).
The Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland.

Standing stone

'Claire's Stone' as featured in the Outlander series. Do not use for time travel. You might end up in the Bronze Age and be forced to carry one of those big boys to its final place. *grin*


4 May 2020
  Jewish Kraków: A Virtual Tour through the Kazimierz and Podgórze Quarters

Kazimierz is a very different part of the historical Kraków. Less frequented by tourists, but popular with young people. Some houses have already been renovated and look as pretty as in the Old Town, but others still need some new paint or a sandblasting. It gives the place a slightly rundown, but charming atmosphere.

Street Café in Kazimierz

Originally, the part of the historical centre of Kraków today known as Kazimierz was an island in the Vistula river. There had been a Slavic shrine and a sacred pool before Poland was Christianised. Nearby was the seat of a local chief and a cattle market which later became the Bawół district. Those merged into a settlement; the first church was built on the site of the shrine in the 11th century. The town that developed on the site was independent from the Wawel and the city of Kraków (today the part known as Old Town) for several centuries.

Lane with old houses in Kazimierz

King Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir III the Great) declared the settlement on the island to be named after him: Kazimierz; Casimiria in Latin. The town walls of Kraków were extended to surround the central section of the island, yet the newly named town remained an independent Town of the Royal Crown. Casimir granted it the Magdeburg Law, and burghers were encouraged to settle on the island. The site of the former pagan shrine was occupied by the Augustinian Order.

Corpus Christus Basilica

The one remaining building that dates to the time of Casimir the Great is the Corpus Christus Basilica, built in the Gothic style. It was founded in 1335 by the king; its construction took place in several stages from 1340 to the mid-15th century. Later, some Baroque chapels were added. The ground where it stands – including a cemetary – was once surrounded by a separate wall, since the church was independent from the town jurisdiction.

A square in Kazimierz

After the Partition of Poland in 1795, Kraków came under Austrian supremacy. Kazimierz lost its independent status and became a suburb of the city of Kraków.

Kazimierz was connected to Kraków by an important bridge, the Pons Regalis, which was part of the trade route that went from Kraków to the salt mines of Wieliczka and then continued into Hungary. The bridge was dismantled in 1880, after the branch of the Vistula river separating Kraków from Kazimierz had been filled in by the Austrian government.

One of the inner yards in the older houses

The new town flourished in the 16th century when many fine buildings of the Renaissance architecture were created. Those included several synagagues.

I went to visit Kazimierz in the evening, so those synagogues open to tourists were already closed, though I got some photos of the exterior. Yet it turned out that one needs more time than a single day to do Kraków justice. Good reason to return some day.

Lane in Kazimierz

I've briefly mentioned the situation of Jews in Poland in the comments to my post about the history of Ogrodzieniec Castle. The privileges granted to the Jews in the Statue of Kalisz, issued by Duke Bolesław the Pious of Greater Poland in 1264, were unprecedented in Europe. They allowed the Jews ‒ among other rights ‒ freedom of worship, the right to have their own legal courts, freedom of movement in the realm, and protection from attacks by Christians. The statue was ratified by several other Polish rulers, including King Casimir the Great (1334) and thus extended to the entire of Mediaeval Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Nevertheless, the Jewish community in Kraków suffered some setbacks in the 15th century. There were riots in 1407, after the Syonod of Constance had whipped the local clergy into a less tolerant attitude, though the riots were quelled by the royal guards. In 1494, a great fire destroyed part of Kraków, and a year later, King John Albert (Jan Olbracht) ordered the Jews to resettle in the the Bawół district of Kazimierz.

Remains of the Jewish walls

In 1553, the Kazimierz town council allowed the Jewish community to build a wall that cut across the western end of the town walls to protect their quarter. The walls were extended in 1608 due to the growth of the Jewish community. The area was known as Oppidum Judaeorum; it encompassed about a fifth of the area of Kazimierz, but held half of its inhabitants.

For centuries, the Jewish Quarter was the spiritual and cultural centre of the Polish Jews, and Kazimierz an example of a mostly peaceful coexistence of Jewish and Polish cultures. After Austria acquired the city of Kraków, many of the wealthy Jews moved out of the crowded quarter in Kazimierz, though they stayed near their synagogues and the graves of their ancestors. Kazimierz remained a 'Jewish district' until 1941, when the German occupants moved the Jews to the ghetto in Podgórze (see below).

The Old Synagogue

Despite the migration of Jews to other parts of Kraków, Kazimierz still had 120 syangogues and prayer houses in 1930. Now but a few have been left or were repaired after the war. I managed to see four of these remaining ones, among them the oldest and finest, aptly named the Old Synagogue.

Old Synagogue, from a different angle

There are two contested dates for the erection of the synagogue: 1407 which would put it shortly after the riots in Kraków (maybe some Jews left the city because of those) or 1492, but three years before the Jewish community was ordered to settle in Kazimierz. In both cases, there already seemed to have been some migration to the island prior to 1495.

The synagogue was damaged by a fire and had to be rebuilt in 1570. The Italian architect Mateo Gucci added defensive features to the architecture, like windows placed above ground level and thick walls with buttresses, thus turning the Old Synagogue into a rare example of a fortress synagogue that could shelter and defend people in case of war.

They synagogue was looted by the Germans and used as warehouse, but it was not destroyed. It was renovated in 1959 and is today used as museum.

The High Synagogue

The High Synagogue – the third to be built in Kazimierz ‒ was commissioned by a rich Jewish merchant called 'Israel' in 1556-63. It was the tallest synagogue in the city for several centuries, with an upstairs prayer room. The style is influenced by Italian and French Renaissance. This synagogue, too, was rannsacked by the Nazis,

Izaak Synagogue

The Izaak Synagogue was built in 1644 by Izaak Jakubowicz, also known as 'Isaac the Rich', a banker to King Władysław IV. He employed the Italian architect Francesco Olivierri who worked in Poland at the time. King Władysław was a generous protector of the arts, so his reign attracted artists from other countries. Izaak seems to have financed more than one of the king's grand projects.

The interior of the synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis. After the war, it became the workshop of a a threatre company until a fire destroyed the interior in 1981. As result of the fall of communism, the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community who restored the damage. It now serves its original purpose as synagogue again.

Temple Synagogue

The Temple Synagogue is a younger building, dating to 1860-62. It was built in the Moorish Revival style, though not all elements are truly Moorish. The architecture was influnced by similar buidlings in Austria – Kraków was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time – as well as the golden-domed Sigismund Chapel in the Wawel (1533), a fine example of the Renaissance architecture. The synagogue is still in use today.

Classicist buildings at the Podgórski Square in Podgórze

It was already late evening, though still light at the time of the year, and I just wanted to walk back to my hotel, when some vehicles best described as e-bike rikshas caught my attention. They offered tours to Podgórze, a district of Kraków situated on the southern bank of the Vistula river, and the remains of the Jewish ghetto. Well, at least I could rest my feet that way, so I made a deal with a young Pole who spoke pretty good English to show me the most important sites. It would prove to be the most emotional part of my visit.

Wall of Memory –
The remaining part of the wall that encircled the Jewish ghetto

After the occupation of Poland by the German army in September 1939, Kraków became the capital of the General Government, the Nazi administration of Poland. The town was intended to become a 'German' town, so Polish and Jewish inhabitants were at first encouraged to leave (at that stage, they were allowed to bring along their possessions), and later forced out of the city by various means. The Jewish population lost many of their civilian rights; a Jewish Council (Judenrat) of 24 Jewish members was established to govern the Jewish comunity, but mostly to carry out the orders of the Nazis, like registration, the collection of taxes and the organisation of forced labour groups.

Another shot of the ghetto wall

In March 1941, part of the Podgórze district was turned into a ghetto and all Jews still resident in Kraków had to move into its boundaries. They were forced to erect the walls that enclosed the ghetto, which were deliberately designed like Jewish tombstones by the German government. 16,000 Jews were crammed into quarters that prior had held 3,500 inhabitants.

Life in the ghetto was difficult, quarters cramped, food scarce, diseases common. In December 1942, the ghetto was divided into two parts: 'Ghetto A' for people who were working, and 'Ghetto B' for the others. In the following months, 13,000 Jews not being able to work were transported to the concentration camp of Auschwitz and the extermination camp at Bełżec; several hundred were murdered in streets. The ghetto of Kraków was liquidated in March 1943, the camp of Bełżec closed in June 1943. 2,000 members of Ghetto A were sent to the work camp in Płaszów.

Plac Bohaterów Getta – Place of the Ghetto Heroes in Podgórze

The Place of the Ghetto Heroes, formely Place of Unity (Plac Zgody), was the main square of the ghetto, situated at one of the four gates. It was the place where the Jews had to gather for appeals and selections; it was the starting point for the deportations to the concentration and extermination camps.

Today, the place is a memorial. The Polish architects Piotr Lewicki and Kazimierz Łatak created a number of metal chairs. 30 are oversized and face the former Eagle Pharmacy (see below), another 3 face the remains of the ghetto wall; further 37 chairs spread in between are of normal proportions. The memorial was opened in December 2005.

On that sunny spring evening, young people gathered on the square, using the chairs to sit on and having a good time with a snack and their smartphones. It felt a bit odd at first, when the guide told me about the history of the place – I thought the square should be empty and stern. But then I realised that the normality of life is a sign of hope.

'Eagle Pharmacy' (Apteka pod Orłem)

At a corner of the place sits the former Eagle Pharmacy. It belonged to Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a Pole of Roman Christian faith. When all non-Jewish inhabitants were ordered to leave the area of the ghetto, Pankiewicz managed to remain and continue to run the pharmacy which had been established by his father in 1909. He bribed some officials, proved 'Arian descent', promised to only employ other Arians and talk to Jews only about medicine.

Pankiewicz's pharmacy developed into a meeting point not only for the sick, but for all the Jews in the ghetto. He and his coworkers maintained contact to the world outside the ghetto, delivered messages, smuggled valuables, obtained fake passports. When the mass transportations began – Tadeusz could see the sad gatherings on the square – he hid a number of Jews in his pharmacy, among the a lot of children, and thus saved their lives.

After the war, the pharmacy was nationalised by the Sovjets; later it was turned into a museum which opened in 1983.

Schindler's Factory; the administration building

Another important monument in Podgórze is Oskar Schindler's Enamelled Goods Factory, well known from the movie 'Schindler's List' and now a museum. The factory had belonged to a Jewish trust which Schindler first joined as another trustee; he then used his position with the Nazis to take over the factory.

Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist born in Moravia in 1908, joined the Nazi Intelligence Service (Abwehr) and collected information prior to the occupation of Czechoslovakia and later Poland. At first, Schindler was only interested in the financial gains of the factory he had obtained, and hired Jews because they were cheap.

But at some point – perhaps after witnessing the cruel liquidation of the ghetto ‒ he must have had a change of conscience and used the factory to save as many Jews as possible. He started to produce ammunition shells and field cooking gears to have the factory considered an 'essential part of the war effort'. Schindler employed Jews the German administration deemed unfit to work, put his own fortune into feeding them, bribing the government – he was still a member of the Intelligence and had some influence – and sometimes he bought products elsewhere to cover up the low output of his factory. He managed to set up a subcamp of the Płaszów work camp on the premises of his factory to protect more Jews from the Nazi guards.

Schindler saved the lives of about 1,200 Jews. After his death in 1974, he was buried in Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

St.Joseph's Church in Podgórze

On the way back to the Old Town, my guide passed the St.Joseph's Church. It is situated outside the former ghetto at the Podgórski Square. St.Joseph is the largest church in the area and dates to 1909. It is a fine example of the Gothic Revival style, basically Gothic with extra Fancy. It looked pretty in the golden sun of late evening.

Vistula river

I've only given some of the mere facts about the ghetto, since my blog is more a documentary than a personal travel diary, but I will say that walking along the river back to the castle and my hotel in the Old Town restored my peace of mind.


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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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
The Architecture

Master James of St.George
The Castle Kitchens

From the Romans to the Victorians

Beginnings unto Bigod
From Edward II to the Tudors
Civil War, Restoration, and Aftermath

The History of the Castle
The Architecture

Llywelyn's Buildings
King Edward's Buildings

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
Rugia - Jasmund Peninsula and Kap Arkona
Rugia - Seaside Ressort Binz
Rugia - The Pier of Sellin
Rugia - More Photo Impressions
A Tour on the Wakenitz River

The Lüneburg Heath
Hiking Tours in the Lüneburg Heath

Harz National Park
Arboretum (Bad Grund)
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
Devil's Wall
Ilse Valley and Ilse's Rock
Oderteich Reservoir
Rappbode Reservoir
Views from Harz mountains

Nature Park Meissner-Kaufunger Wald
Around Bad Sooden-Allendorf
Hessian Switzerland

Nature Park Solling-Vogler
Forest Pasture - Hutewald Project
The Raised Bog Mecklenbruch

Nature Park Reinhardswald
The Old Forest at the Sababurg

Thuringian Forests
Oberderdorla and Hainich National Park

Rivers and Lakes
Bruchteiche / Bad Sooden Allendorf
The Danube in Spring
Edersee Reservoir
A Rainy Rhine Cruise
The Moselle
Vineyards at Saale and Unstrut
Weser River Ferry
Weser Skywalk

Harz Falcon Park
Ozeaneum Stralsund: The Baltic Sea Life
Ozeaneum Stralsund: The North Sea Life
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
Autumn at Werra and Weser
Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake

United Kingdom

Mountains and Valleys
West Highland Railway

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

Scottish Sea Shores
Crossing to Mull
Mull - Craignure to Fionnphort
Pentland Firth
Castles Seen from Afar (Dunollie and Kilchurn)
Summer Days in Oban
Summer Nights in Oban

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
From Trondheim to Oslo

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
- Gallia Belgica
- Britannia

Mediaeval History
General Essays

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

Other Times
- Prehistoric Times
- Post-Mediaeval History
- Geology

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
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


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
Hall Houses (Dielenhäuser)

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
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

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
The Necropolis of Oldendorf

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
The 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)


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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