The cute tower now known as Kiiu carries the dubious distinction of being the smallest surviving Medieval military building in the Baltics. This should lead the intrepid explorer to think from the start that there’s not a lot to go around here even though what there is has a wonderful atmosphere. If Kiiu ends up being on your route, do stop by and take a look!
The Estonian Otepää is mostly known to the locals as a winter resort, but this is a place where known history stretches back into the early 12th century — in some form or another. Mostly this is due to the ever helpful neighbouring Rus states, the typical ones to try and extend into these lands being the Novgorodians. The Germans, of course, came in their own time and we know some about their adventures here as well, and for a while the city could have been called the capital of the bishopric in which it was based.
Oldentorne, or in today’s language, Vana-Kastre was the site of a castle in the Bishopric of Dorpat (Tartu). Not much is left today — I only found a bit of surviving masonry, overgrown by the trees present, and there is a lot of overgrowth present. There might have been some attempts to save this place from nature but it did not last long, and I feel like the local villagers would have taken the potential for stones and used them in dwellings they required after the castle fell into disuse. Continue reading “Bischofsburg Oldentorne (Vana-Kastre)”
I ended up at Fort de Ruyter after a walk from the port of Vlissingen. It wasn’t a clear-cut road and I did not know what I would be looking at when I arrived. The sight, as ever, was both magical and unexpected. It is quintessentially Dutch to have a thorough combination of the very old and the very modern, and that is what this fort represents in many a way. Continue reading “Fort de Ruyter”
Visiting Hunworth was fun! One really wouldn’t expect to see a glacial escarpment just like the one that is located in the village in Norfolk — at least I didn’t, based on my past experiences. There are cliff-faces and other structures, but this place here heralded back to the when your neighbourly glacier was just about here. Of course, these notes have ignored the castle and its premise, but this ridge made a perfect place for a castle.
Gresham became, moments after arriving there, one of my favourite places in the whole of East Anglia. Not only are we looking at a small wooded enclosure where one can find scattered pieces of masonry all about, this is also a very small — and, therefore, understandable — site.
Branodunum is another one of the Saxon Shore forts I have managed to make my way to. I am in very two minds about whether to recommend this place or not to do so. This is, mostly, because the extant fort can be represented by a field. Almost any field, except for the fact that any field will not have had a Roman fort standing there fifteen centuries back. Continue reading “Branodunum, Litus Saxonicum”
An ordensburg is much the same as a bischofsburg, just for the Order and not a Bishop. The Order in this case is the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order who took Keila over when the old owners decided they had enough and could sell the place. The Order was quite appreciative of this, and Keila’s importance grew considerably with this place becoming one of the most important castles near Tallinn (Reval) where a lot of the logistics was determined, also evidenced by the Order’s Komtur (Commander) of Tallinn living here.
I enjoyed this a bit more than the previous volume, mostly because Mr Turnbull had described the religious and organisatorial aspects of the Teutonic life and was able to input more about various episodes. Primarily, as the nature of the subject here is the Livonian chapter, these episodes concerned undertakings in the Northern Baltics but some were also relevant in light of the previous volume. Continue reading “Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (2), Stephen Turnbull”
This book provides a solid overview of the Northern European variety of castles along with plenty of the accompanying history (especially for someone whose knowledge of the history of these lands is very poor!) to get decently acquainted. Continue reading “Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1), Stephen Turnbull”