My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology

  Happy New Year

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, health, love, and lots of books.

York Minster, one of the windows

I don't have photos of fireworks, but I think that shot is a fitting substitute - taken against the light the rosette window looks like an exploding firework star on the night sky.

  Happy Holidays

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Io Saturnalia, Happy Chanukka or in whatever way you celebrate the return of the light.

Meditation corner in the Abbey Church of Bursfelde / Weser

  Roman Playmobil Fun

One of the features of the exhibition in the LWL Roman Museum in Haltern am See was the display of three legions of playmobil Romans spread all over the museum. The 15,000 figures were to demonstrate the number of Romans marching through the German forests towards their doom.

LWL Museum, Haltern

A part of the Roman army on the march can be seen in the middle of the photo (the red guys in the background), another in the upper part (blue ones) - both on boards suspeded from the ceiling. The greater part of the marching column walked on boards above eye height and was a bit tricky to photograph. I managed to get some acceptable closeups, though.

Some legionaries

We are Marius' Mules, one, two, three, and a-marching we go.

Sometimes also called Caesar's mules, but it was the consul Marius who standardized the Roman soldier's marching gear during the wars against the Cimbri and Teutones, another bunch of unruly Germanic tribes.

Legionary cavalry

Heh, you sorry footsloggers. We have horses, neiner, neiner.

Each legion had 120 cavalry soldiers, but overall the Romans relied on auxiliary cavalry from conquered or allied countries.

Part of the train

A legion on march had a train, mostly consisting of the larger baggage, the official families of the officers and sometimes the inofficial families of the soldiers (who were not allowed to marry), and provisions.

Poor sod

Some of the Playmobil soldiers got lost on the way, like this poor guy. Twisted his ankle when he stumbled over one of those damn tree roots.

There was a game for the kids who visited the museum to find all the stray figures.

Special polishing duty

Damn, how many of those helmets are there and why did I piss the centurion off again?

Romans soldiers had a lot of work to do besides walking (and sometimes fighting), like cleaning their armour, cooking, and digging trenches for the camp.

Digging ditches

Is that ditch no. 287 or 288? They never told us about that when they recruited us for the great of Rome and fame and regular pay.

Romans erected a fortified camp with trenches and palisades every night on a march, and they even did it the first night of the Varus battle, which says a few things about Roman discipline

Playing at dice

We should hide behind the tent. If the centurion sees us, it's polishing helmets again.

Dice was the most popular game, but there were also more strategical ones like nine men's morris or one a bit like backgammon.

Roman potter

If Gaius Incitus breaks another oil lamp, he can sleep in the dark. Or buy a bronze one, provided he wins at dice for a change.

Repair of armour, weapons and other items was mostly done in the forts, but there were always soldiers with special skills who could do emergency repairs on the march. They were called immunes because they were exempt from some of the regular soldier's duties, like digging.


Oops, where is my lion hide?

I suppose Playmobill doesn't produce those, but the aquilifer, the bearer of the legionary standard, was dressed in a lion fur with the headpiece over his own head. I've yet to figure out where that custom comes from.

More Roman soldiers

Another closeup of some marching legionaries with their pack mules. Every contubernium, a group of eight soldiers who shared a tent and cook fire, had a mule for the larger items the men didn't carry themselves, like tent poles and the portable millstone to prepare the daily grain ration.

I was tempted to buy a Playmobil soldier in the museum shop, but managed to resist.

  By Ferry to Newcastle

The most comfortable way to get to Scotland is to take the Amsterdam / Newcastle ferry, and I've crossed into the harbour of Newcastle several times - always with the camera ready. Arriving or leaving Newcastle give you some interesting vistas.

Sunrise on the ferry

The DFDS Seaways ferry from IJmuiden / Amsterdam to North Shields / Newcastle is a lot more fun than taking the train through the canal tunnel, and they organise for bus transfer to/from the stations. You have a cabin with bathroom and arrive the next morning, with a good breakfast in your stomach, instead of close to midnight, hungry and tired.

Morning at sea

It's the best way to get to the Hadrian's Wall or Scotland, and while it's a bit roundabout, it also works for Wales; it is only 4 hours by train from Chester to Newcastle (Cardiff was a bit longer). It would not have been any easier to get from Chester to London, and the entire journey isn't more expensive than a line flight.

After all, the Romans did it that way too, sometimes, because Newcastle was a major harbour already during their time.

Approaching Newcastle harbour

Another aspect I love when traveling by train, bus or ferry is that you get a better feel for the distances than traveling by plane, and it's a great way to see a country. Ok, I know the route from my hometown to Amsterdam by now, but the part through the Kasseler Berge, the Taunus and the montains between Frankfurt and Cologne is always beautiful.

Lighthouse of North Shields / Newcastle

The bus trip from Carmarthen to Caernarfon was one of the best examples that six a hours travel can pay out. It presented me with some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen.

North Shields, up the Tyne river to the harbour
(some of the ship's safety boats to the right)

On the way back, the weather was mor 'British', with an overcast sky and the occasional downpour, but it made for some pretty atmospheric photos. I particularly loved the ruins of the castle and Tynemouth Abbey.

Tynemouth Priory and WW2 fortifications

The remains of the priory, with a WW2 flak batteries to the right. The strategically important headland at the entrance to the Tyne river has been settled since the Iron Age. It later was occupied by a Norman castle of which some remains are left, and on the other side lies the Roman fort Arbeia.

Sunrays over Tynemouth Lighthouse

The sky had been cloudy in the afternoon, but when the ferry left Newcastle, some sunrays broke through and sparkled on the water like a farewell.

Sunset on the North Sea

Another pretty sunset. The light is a bit softer on the North Sea, not so brilliant as with some sunsets at the west coast. The sea was calm on the way back, but during the journey to Newcastle there had been a storm that made even the big ferry roll a bit. I don't mind that, though.

  Summer Nights in Oban

I took my camera with me all the time in Oban, even to dinner, because with the ever changing sky and light you'd never know when the next beautiful motive would appear.

Oban Bay in the evening sun

This is another shot taken from the B&B room. I love it when the sun sparkles on water - more pretty than diamonds.

Oban Bay at night

Taken outside the pub near the B&B. I just stood there and enjoyed the view for a while.

Oban Bay, late evening

And there was that moment when the light turned into those lovely sepia tones, like on an old photography.

A detail shot taken in Oban harbour

A picture from the harbour, with the riggings of a sailing boat in the foreground. And a few of those Scottish clouds.

One of the island ferries

This was a bit earlier, when the late ferry from Coll and Tiree came in. Caledonian MacBrayne operates most of the services to the Hebridean isles.


This one was taken through the window of the restaurant where I had a late dinner. I caught the moment the sun went down in all its golden glory.

After sunset

The same view taken outside about an hour later. It didn't get fully dark even at 1 am.

White nights in Oban

The (almost) white nights reminded me of the time I lived in Stockholm where the light could be beautiful as well in summer.

Sunset in Oban

The landscape of the Highlands is breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains, the water, that incredible, ever changing light .... I could go on forever.

The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: 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 hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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