Romans and Germans

Romans and Germans

The victor usually writes the history and we have got only the Roman version. My ancestors were not barbarians. The Celtic world knew about Greeks and Romans long before the other way around. Here another view from the northern Celtic viewpoint.

Civilised circus, Elbe, Teutoburgerwald wolves, bears, Nero, Germans, Vergilius, Aeneid, Romulus, Remo, Tiberius, Saxony, peace altar Ara Pacis, German hero Arminius, Hoby family, Iliad, Hadrian Wall, Nero, Irminsul, Heruli, Mercurius Cimbri, Mars Thingsus, Frisians, Mithras, altar, Mithraeum, Nymph, Coventina

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Golden Age of Erils | Golden Age, Neck-ring, Trinity, Gallehus horns, Anglo-saxons, Anglo-Saxon ideas

Gold medallions, medals and bracts | Medallions, Gold medals, the Head, A-bract, Laukar, Wide Ride, icons, symbols, World Order The Flying Horse Light cavalry Tyr-medaljon Balder myth Finds tell us Were they Christian? Heruli the history The Vi

Feudal ideas Feudal world order Sparlausa stone Rauk stone … upgrading April 2002

The civilised Roman circus.

The Romans loved animals more than humans, as they used man as cat food. There was no fair play when man was tied to a pole ... in our time Hitler and the Gestapo loved the German shepherd as it obeys the master exactly.



Know your destiny to rule all people in the world.

Be your skill to make law and peace.

Spare those asking for protection,

but fight down the bold.


Vergelius in Aeneid wrote those rows, as he was a good dog to the God Augustus.

Many in our time admire the Romans and what they stand for. However I do not buy a bit of it when we examine critically their methods and society.

From the Romans onwards we have much more written material than from the eras before. In fact we have almost too much to get a grip of the developments in civilisation.

Daily life among citizens but there are no slaves and captured in the picture

If civilisation means destroying older cultures, it is questionable and especially if a new rule is too bad for the future. The Greeks tried and gave names to many ruling systems and none of them is the ultimate if we use common wealth and peace for everyone as the measure. Greeks' democracy was only for the upper class. As I am a pure Scandinavian I accept only peoples' peaceful equality and the ruling should satisfy that.

It is not the issue here to write a short common history from Augustus to the first kings in Scandinavia. Instead this chronicle will be about the few historical facts we have and try to relate them to the time they occurred. Since we are studying general ideas of mankind we should also keep some distance to those days … no moralising, no idolising but just telling how it was both in Rome and in Scandinavia. But long enough historians have seen at Celts and Scandinavians with "Roman eyes". For the balance we should compare it all to objective references."

The Romans told a quite common folk tale about Romulus and Remo as the first Romans. Their mother was told to have been a Lupo, which in Italian also means a whore. But the tale tells that a wolf brought them up. In fact there are some statues from those days too. We have in fact an example how the Heruli saw wit distance at the Roman Lupus, "Howl with the Lupus, that pays", as we shall see later.

This picture fits well to the Northern mythic language and maybe they named the Romans wolf-guises in those days. Simply it means Scandinavians saw naturally the Romans as enemies. Their own men were bear-guises of course. It was normal customs to give the enemy foreign names or invent a new name. In bear-hunting they used odd names too and that counts also for other European tribes at the time.

In my young days biographers like Plutharchos and Suetonius influenced me. That gave me the foundation to always keep scientific distance to the subject. The oldies asked what good were in tyranny, oligarchy, democracy and so on. That is the meaning of history to be a source for the future and survival of mankind. We should learn from the past.

Then there is no need to be on our knees in front of the Roman barbarians tramping tribes in the mud. There is no need to glorify that kind of behaviour. In the light of the fact that 11000 species are endangered today Wednesday, 04 October 2000 and our problems with consuming our environment the conclusion must be that civilisation causes that. Why glorify the same behaviour in the past? … Now 1 April, 2002 even the Swedish government deliberately starve people to death because Big Brother ordered that???

Caesar Augustus was equal with gods like Italia, Neptune, Roma, Victoria and the Eagle of Jupiter below. Tiberius enters the chariot after a victory, which brought a new province to Caesar.

His followers discovered also that the coins were a good advertising place. Normally the averse idolised the emperor and the reverse contended something that could be called "promoted the stable government" by using personifications of suitable icons for that. The god-begotten emperors continued until the murder of emperor Severus and his wife at Rhine 235 AD and people saw that even an emperor was deadly.

With the distance of history we can see that Augustus was not the first and not the last to call himself god-begotten. It started with priest kings that were "stand-in" for the god. We know that the Akkadian Sargon around 2300 BC told people that he is god-begotten. We know from Anglo-Saxon sources that the kings were god-begotten.

In Sweden the last was maybe king Gustav III that copied French sun emperors. In between there has been everything from peoples and nobility's democracy to sunkings and dictators. Often the power struggle is between the collective and the upper class including the STRONG MAN ... even today.

We should remember this when we "sun riders", "sunkings" and other idols on Scandinavian golden items. They were expressing abstract ideas in the same way as in Rome. However we see no god-begotten kings at that time. That we have to learn from the later family trees of the kings … on some golden bracts we read "Our lord Constans" so maybe some Scandinavian had their god in Rome.

Now we can begin the chronicle with a known meeting at Elbe. On the Roman side were three legions counting 5000 each well-trained soldiers and to that the cavalry. On the other side an unknown amounts of Germans and perhaps Scandinavian bear-guises too.

At Elbe 5 AD.

The Roman historian Velleus Patercullus was cavalry officer in Tiberius' army the summer of year 5 AD. The Roman war machine counting 18000 trained soldiers destroyed villages and world pillars on its way between Rhine and Elbe. At that time the border was the later known limes along Rhine and Danube. Their tactic was "The Turtle" if they were attacked. That means they covered their sides ands and the top with their big shields and were well protected against arrows as long as the turtle was intact.

Tiberius wanted to win some laurels if he won a new land. Rome was still a republic and it was easier to be a Caesar if the pretender brought a new province to the throne ... Foreigners could be good Romans if they brought a million bugs with them.

But let Velleus tell us a little episode at the shore of Elbe that year:

I was sent with Tiberius to Germany as praefectus in the cavalry. The grade I got after my father. For nine years I continuously witnessed his divine feats, as praefectus and legatus, and I assisted him as long as my humbleness was capable ... I cannot avoid telling a small episode among all those important events, how little it may seem. We had set our tents on this side of Elbe. On the other side glittered their weapons and youngsters. Every movement of our ships made them retreat.

Except one barbarian, an elderly tall man of a high grade, as far one could decide by the outfit. He stepped in a small boat made from a log of wood, as is custom among them. Alone he took the vessel to the middle of river.

Then he asked if he without risk could go ashore on the side we hold with our arms. He wanted to see Caesar. He was allowed and he landed his vessel and looked for long without a word at Caesar.

Then he said: "Our young men are certainly with no sense. When you are away, they honour your divine strength, but when you are here they are afraid of your weapons. Still, they will not seek your protection. With your divine permission Caesar, I have seen gods whom I only have heard about. A happier day I never wished or experienced in my whole life".

Then he asked if he could touch the hand of Caesar and then he returned to his little vessel. He turned and looked for a while at Caesar and rowed then to the other side.

The old Bear had sniffed on the Wolf.

We do not need to take for good the evaluations Velleus made from the Roman side. Thoughts are free and the later history tells about less respectful Germans than Velleus believed they were. But the Roman annals tell that the expedition was successful … but maybe it is difficult to find failures in those annals?

In search for Baltic amber

We note that the Romans had a fleet in Elbe. They surely knew about early traders searching for amber and went to Northern Waters and sailed into Mare Balticum.

However, there were surely no victories. Otherwise, we would have heard about them. A find at Lauterhorn Gotland makes us speculate about that fleet. It is a detail of furniture usually found in a ship's cabin. More specific it should have been a ship for an admiral and they date it to that time. Then rise the question was the Roman fleet there in 5 AD? From Pliny the Elder we get some notes:

‘ in the islands of the north of the Northern ocean that is called Glessum by the Germans, and that for this reason when Germanicus Caesar was commanding a fleet in those regions, the Romans gave the name of Glessaria to one of these islands’.

The amber trade was not established by this expedition. Neither by the friendship between Legatus Silius at Mainz and the Hoby chieftain below. At least not in the extension when Emperor Nero sent a knight to the "gold mine". But soon there were amber routes from Jutland via Oder and from Vistula to get the Baltic Amber. Tacitus tells that only the Aesti gathered amber. But we should not always trust in him

Pliny wrote;

‘There still lives the Roman knight who was sent to procure amber by Julianus, superintendent of the gladiatorial games given by Emperor Nero. This knight traveled over the markets and shores of the country, and brought back such an immense quantity of amber that the nets intended to protect the podium from the wild beasts were studded with buttons of amber. Adorned likewise with amber were the arms, the biers, and the whole apparatus for one day. The largest piece the knight brought back weighed thirteen pounds.’

Unfortunately the story does not tell where he did go. Was it to the Jutes or the Balts. Anyway they did not keep it secret like the Phoenician traders that told to help shield their amber’s origin.

‘Now that the Phoenician’s had seen the amber gathered from the sea, they determined to keep the secret for themselves and thus guard the lucrative trade. When the fleets returned to Syria, many were the tales told of perils to the north, of lodestones which would draw the ships to destruction on hidden reefs, of whirlpools which would suck them down to the bottom of the ocean, of witches who enchanted men by turning them into beasts, of terrible sea serpents, and awesome monsters. So well did these ancient sailors spin their yarns that for many centuries afterwards mariners feared these mythical perils’.

In the rock-carvings we see some Phoenician ships and other motifs telling about the visits. No wonder that ancient writers also wrote about ugly and odd beings with head in stomach, dog head, one-footed and one-eyed and so on.

Maybe we should also note that king Theoderic sent an expedition to the Baltic coast for amber once he got settled on the throne in Ravenna. That was maybe also to show his relatives something since the Ostrogoths came from those coast a few generations ago in fact.

Anyway under the Roman period we can note that there were four paths for "amber trade". One from Jutland's West Coast to Rhineland; one via Oder southward; one via Vistula to northern Italy and maybe the most important and lastly one from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Teutoburgerwald 9 AD

Wolves and Bears

Although there are no signs of victories in Mare Balticum, but the Romans thought that the expedition to Elbe was successful and believed they had made peace in Saxony. However, they misjudged the servility of Germans as in the case of the old tall man. The young Germans did not like the Roman rule and feared that it would grow harder between Rhine and Elbe and steps by step continue northwards.

The god himself up there and the defeated down there. Note the Eagles and plackets as signs of victory. Macho men simply love them

Many young noble Germans had been in the Roman army and learned their tactics and manners. They only waited for an opportunity to get rid of the Romans in what we call Saxony. Surely they had mobilised neighbouring tribes and that includes Scandinavians from at least the southern part. As we know that there must have been traders and nobility since Bronze Age and we may at once call them Erils. The Erils surely wanted to establish trade but they also wanted a free Germania.

The Romans stationed six legions and totally about 36000 at Rhine and thought they had got the control to Elbe. Three legions were normally enough to be "the peacemakers" everywhere. However, the united Germans lured three legions out from the fortifications at Rhine.

Perhaps it was old Celtic strategy "split and rule", but anyhow they led the Romans to the worst terrain possible and got the normally skilled soldiers totally out of order. Those proud soldiers were used always to win and they panicked and become an easy game for the Germans.

We have always been told about Roman heroes and us being the barbarian beasts. However, strictly from our point of view this battle was fair although gruesome. It was aimed as a lesson for the Romans. The Celtic warfare is known to have used tactics of frightening in the direct war and thus aiming at future too. They wanted the enemy to fear them.

On the peace altar Ara Pacis the Roman noblesse is seen lead by the gods Italia, Roma and Aeneas in front.

One of the outer signs was that the Celtic warriors were said to go to another world when fighting. For this purpose they were stripped to the waist and their hair was chalk white as they had it greased and mixed it with chalk. So prepared the cavalry rode in arrow formation towards the Roman phalanx shouting the wildest they could to frighten the soldiers.

This light cavalry was the normal tactics of the Germans and not only in field ... This tactics on seas beat the Spanish heavy armada…. However in the time span we are looking at I think they altered their style and some even got used to more weapons and became heavy cavalry. They surely also learned from the Parthians.

Everywhere and at every time disgrace in the macho military lead easily to a dead penalty for the leading officers. So commander Varus did not come back from the woods. For the soldiers it was a shame to lose the Jupiter Eagles and the army had lost its face. This was a turning point for the expanding Roman Empire. After that we see only minor advancements from the limes.

Tacitus in Annales about the Teutoburger massacre 15 AD.

"The entire army was deeply touched thinking about relatives and friends ... about cruelty of wars and unfortunate fate of man. In the middle of the field whitened bones, spread or gathered, as the men had flied or fought.

Aside were remains of weapons, bones of horses, skulls set on poles. In the nearby groves we saw the barbarian altars on which they had slaughtered the tribunes and centurions of the first grade.

Some had survived this defeat by fighting or had escaped from captivity. They told that here had the commanders been killed, there they lost the Eagles, there Varus got his first wound, there he took his own life. They remembered the hill where the German commander Arminius spoke to his people.

They saw in their mind the gallows made for the prisoners, the torture wholes dug for them. They told about the arrogant taunts of Arminius against the Eagles and standards ... so, the gathered Roman army buried the bones of three legions without knowing whether the bones were enemies or relatives.

In our age with TV we do not need much help to remember horrors of wars as we see them now and then from Yugoslavia, Iraq, Africa, Israel and so on.

It is significant for the Roman art that they have the capacity to picture the art capturing and ruling people. I do not think that the mother was pleased with being captured

The German hero Arminius was soon captured perhaps lured by his own relatives expecting advancement in Roman hierarchy. He and his wife Tusnelda were taken to Rome and the victory parade ... maybe in front of Ara Pacis the peace altar inaugurated 9 AD.

The Celts never got the opportunity to build monuments of all the destroyed villages and killed Celts during the age of the Roman Turtle and the Lupus conquered the Celts and gave them the name Barbarian. I only mention it here because it is of no use to try to alter established attitudes that gave people Roman Eyes.

What happened 14 AD?

Who were the Hoby family?

Most of the Hoby service. Some strainer was of course necessary to filter the wine.

We may also ask about that tall seemingly peaceful man willing to negotiate with the Romans. Was he the one who negotiated with the Romans when they wanted to bury their fallen army? The Romans would never have admitted that they needed to negotiate to get permission to a new mission to Teutoburgerwald.

However, the finds of a dated silver service in Hoby may give a possible explanation. The Hoby man may have been the negotiator. He might have had not only the power to allow the Romans to the mission of burial, but also to make a treaty about trade with the Romans at limes.

As we know that trade with the Romans began we may speculate in the few facts and artefacts we have. We also know that there was a lively trade during Bronze Age an Iron Age before the Romans. The culture in northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia was much alike. The Romans were a treat to that culture

We may ask if that same man was the leader of the later known Erils and seated at Hoby Lolland. Nowadays it is near the normal route Gedser - Travemünde.

Fortunately we may speculate in the finds from Hoby. The finds may have been given to the woman in charge as was custom among Celts ... see Beowulf too. Another fact is they had changed ritual from the usual cremation to burial. It looks, as they wanted to bury the time and the gifts.

The silver service was for two and in the bottom of one of the beachers reads a family name SILIUS. This family was known as one of the influential and high nobility in Rome. One of its members happens to have been legatus, i.e. civil and military governor at Mainz. His burial stela is found and tells that he was there from 14 to 21 AD. He had got his job by Tiberius who become Caesar 14 AD and surely gave the new commander at Rhine instructions to arrange a treaty with the Germans. As the bodies were still unburied, it was like an open wound in the Roman society.

Priamos on knees

We have to know about the customs to really understand what may have been going on. The Romans had of course good manners too if only the counterpart knew his place. That means that the Romans made treaties and used customs used for thousands of years before. We only know them for sure from a later period. We know that the Romans gave gifts to their allies and what they were depending on was the issue of course.

In this case it seems like a gift for two drinking brothers ... compare with the later Gallehus Horns … The Roman had to bring the wine with him if he really wanted to drink. A lot of the messages are in this. The other part is in the decorations on the beakers. At the bottom of the big plate we see "Diane in the bath with two female servants". Maybe the Erils saw her as Eostre or the Naked spring Maiden. In this case a hint of something growing like friendship and trade.

The Romans borrowed much from the Greeks and in this way for instance it was spread farther to Denmark. On the beakers are motifs from the Iliad and the battle at Troy. There is the fraction about Priamos asking for the body of Hector. Then Achilles is thinking:


That is the lot the gods gave the poor mortal,

always live suffering, and not feel the sorrow.

(He is thinking about his dead father)

Still he too was given the sorrows,

because never he saw an heir in his house,

except a son devoted to die early,

and never comfort his old father.

Because far from his foster soil

he is sitting here in Troy

as lamentation for you and yours.


The other beaker has fractions about Filoktetes "brotherhood and action" is his name. He was also called Pois, the giant of home, i.e. the fire. Heracles persuades his friend Filoktetes to lit the fire on his funeral pile. As proof of friendship he gives his bow and arrows to Filoktetes. When the Greeks sails towards Troy they will of course that the bow and Filoktetes are with them.

But when they spend the night on an island a snake bits Filoktetes. The wound smells dreadfully and they decide to leave the archer at Lemnos (the scenes are on the beaker). However when they have no success at Troy, they send Odysseus after the rejected. He persuades Filoktetes to forget the disgrace in being left behind. Then the son of Askepleios called the "Foothealer" heals the foot. Then the archer became a hero when he shoots Paris.

The scenes on the service say more than 10000 words. Legatus Silius did not need to fall on his knees in front of the Hoby-man in charge. They could go directly to business. I do not know whether this is the true story. Anyhow it is likely that there has been some treaty and then the trade began at Rhine with the Romans.

Hadrian's Wall

Nero friend of Germans 54 - 68 AD.

Generations of historians have repeated the Roman historical evaluations about Nero. He should be the cruel, vain, egoistic, domineering nature ... but, compared with what? I suppose it is only a question of degrees compared with other rulers at the time. And what about the Roman people admiring the manslaughter at the circus?

The tradition from early Greek and Roman writers/ historians have been going on to our days. They all copy their forerunners with no critical analysis. It has been the method of the academic verbal science and renewal and new valuations are seldom seen

A fair trial is to see what he really did for the Germans. Normally a Caesar of course only initiated issues and the local leaders made practice of them But they also played their own game. In around 60 AD there was the Roman problem with Queen Boudica in England and the first major defeat of the Romans. In this case it was not Nero's fault but the local leaders that cheated the Celts and maybe Nero.

However it forced the empire to rethink its policies like it did after the Teutoburgerwald. So the army was completed with more legions and auxiliaries in England. Nero preferred Germans in his lifeguard instead of intriguing guards from the nobility in Rome. He had inherited his suspicion high on the throne from Tiberius and surely there were incitements too from Tiberius that isolated himself in late days.

The Jupiter column is 4,28 metre high.

During Nero's time old customs gradually recovered in Germany in some way. We may say that Irminsul = great column the world pillars came back in a new model. It was as the Jupiter column with the Roman Caesar Rider on top and often standing on a giant in the same manner as on coins. They placed Roman idols on the sides of the base and that was in the Celtic manner that shows the Four Corners of the world and the World Order.

On some pillars there were the Celtic idols with the leading old Celtic "He, with the wheel" and that symbolised the Time Order. In Roman Germania and even in England the symbolism got more and more mixed as we se in the inscriptions around the fortifications. However the inscriptions are of course in Latin.

Most interesting are finds of stelae in Rhineland with inscriptions about Scandinavian gods. Mercurius Cimbri must commemorate the god from Jutland. The others are not so certain Scandinavian Mercurius Hanno (Funen maybe), Mercurius Leudisio ( could in Skaane at the Gautelf) and Mercurius Rex surely belonged to the strongest people with bretwalda in Denmark. The stelae have been found at lower Mainz and Heidelberg; in Eiffel and Düren on the other side of Rheine and at Geldern at lower Rhine. We can expect that the Heruli had their enclaves of trade in these places.

We do not know the name of the Nordic Mercurius at the time. The Gaulish equivalent was Lugh but for the Germanic people it seems to have been Wotan/ Wedne that gave name to Wednesday. It tells us anyway that the idol of seafarers and traders were the most important.

In the beginning the Romans maybe only new about the Cimbri in north as memory of the Cimbri Threat in 109 - 103 BC. Soon the Heruli = mercenaries from the Erils in Rhineland got better known than the Cimbri and both people furnished legions Italy and Africa. It seems that we should see the Heruli were recruited from the Erils in Scandinavia. They were the Ring League from other areas than the Cimbri coming from Jutland and perhaps Angeln. The Herulian nobility formed an alae = wing were in the cavalry and palace guard and that means the elite troops.

The evidence of trade between Romans and Saxons, Friesians, Heruli/ Erils give us the spread besides golden bracts and neckrings. I see it that is following an old pattern since trade began with the need for copper and tin. The Roman Empire was only an intermedium in the face of eternal history.

Tungrians, Batavians, Friesians and Heruli at Hadrian's Wall 122 - 407 AD

In this connection I am only interested in the West German people with commonness in culture with the Scandinavians. That means we find runes and artefacts as evidence. There were units of these as auxiliaries as well as hired cunei and numerus and they were at forts near each other in Northumberland. They are just an example of life of legionaries during more than 300 years.

The Tungrians from Flandern, the Batavians from the mouth of Rhine and north of them Frisiavones. There were more Frisians from Vinovi, Tvihanti/ Hof van Twenthe Overijsseln and Hnaudifridi from North Frisia. The Heruli are mentioned and it is hard to say from where they came but they furnished one legion for duty in Veneti, Italy and alae = cavallery that were at least for a time at the Hadrian Wall. The Cimbri from Jutland were in Africa so facts of being at duty at forts are of interest even for Scandinavians.

These were those we see in company with the Batavians and Frisians in England but there were also Morini from Boulogne- Sur-Mer France; Menapii Cassel France; Baetatasi and Cugerni Ardennes Belgia; Sunici Lower Rhine all from Coastal Germania and Frisia of those days. But only Tungrians, Batavi and Frisian seems to have been on the Hadrian Wall all the time. However maybe some of their cohors were somewhere else. Besides the Germans at the wall they mention 4 units from Italy, 2 units from Spain, 1 from Dalmatia, 1 from Pannonia, the Hamites and the Parthians under the name of Crispian alae and staying in around 20 fortifications at the wall.

We have to mention that of the early rune finds in Germany 42 % from Baden-Württemberg plus the neckring from Aalen, 22 % from Bayern and 22 % from Niedersachsen. There could have been a people of Heruli in Rhineland while the finds in Niedersahcsen belongs to the Frisian trading sphere. Late evidence of the Anglo - Frisian- Scandinavian culture is the cruciform brooch

The original Roman Army was infantry legions around 5000 men with only maybe 120 of cavalry attached to the legion maybe mainly as scouts. But as we see in England they mention only cohors = 500 of auxiliary although in few cases it was 1000 men. The cavalry was called alae = wing which means they use the wings on each side of the infantry in centre. Smaller auxilliary units were the cunei = wedge and numeri.

Emperor Nero founded the Equites Singulares, i.e. squadrons of cavalry of which the Batavians were the best known and seen as palace guard = Batavians. The Herulian cavalry got the same status maybe a little later. That does not mean they dwelled in the palaces all the time. They were chosen experienced elite that was sent to cool down riots if needed.

The Batavians were freed from taxes and that reminds us of the medieval Nordic cavalry recruited from the nobles. The spin-off effect was surely that they began the horse breeding to get stronger horses. In our time we know the horses from Ardennes, Belgian, Frisian, Hannoveranian and those big black from Oldenburg.

The Batavians originally imposed the Romans by the Dioskouroi tactics of Kastor and Polydeukes the pair of the rider and the other man on foot. There have been many kind of pairs and many myths in history and the oldest name is aswins = helpers. In Rome they were called Castor and Pollux and the oldest temple we know is from 484 BC. In Rome they were sons of Jupiter and twin brothers. Generally they stand for brotherhood and companionship.

The Batavians were good swimmers and could with the one brother on horse and the swimming brother move fast over rivers and marshes. Maybe they gave the idea to the later Roman equitata that was mixed riders and foot soldiers and the Batavians are mentioned in this class. In later symbolism we see the rider and the marshal/ marskalk and titles moved to the lead of the nobility.

During the reign of Nero there was the uprise of Queen Boudica in 60/ 61 AD. We cannot blame Nero for this since it was his subordinated far away in England. Many writers tell us we should have the attitude that the Romans had all right while with more distance it looks like the Romans been the occupying force. Anyway the Romans were after Teutoburgerwald 9 AD forced to rethink and that lead to more legions and auxiliaries were sent to England.

Some diplomas or lists with the legions, auxiliaries and other units have been spared. The best and perhaps complete is from the time of Hadrian in122 AD as we read the introducing texts:

"Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the divine Trajanus Parthicus, grandson of the divine Nerva, High Priest, holding tribunician power for the sixth time, three times consul, proconsul. For the cavalrymen and foot-soldiers who have served in the thirteen cavalry wings and thirty-seven cohorts which are named:"

…which are in Britain under Aulus Platorius Nepos. The veteran soldiers who have served twenty-five years and received an honourable discharge from Pompeius Falco, whose names are written below. To them and to their children for posterity has been granted the citizenship. Also lawful marriage to their wives they have at that time they are assigned the citizenship, or, if they were unmarried, with those whom they later marry, provided that it be only one woman for one man. Dated fourteen days before the calends of August in the consulship of Tiberius Julius Capitonius and Lucius Vitrasius Flamininus (17th July AD122).

The text was copied:

"Copied and checked against the tablet of bronze which is set up in Rome on the wall behind the temple of the Divine Augustus and next to that of Minerva".

At this time these were still not Roman citizens and the regular Legions delivered the special skills in constructing and building forts and other buildings. Stone makers and handicrafters also followed the legions. There were ten legions in England stationed or otherwise evidenced. In the places mentioned at Hadrian Wall here we learn about Legio II Augusta, Legio VI Victrix, and Legio XX Valeria and the inscriptions tell about the presence at some time but surely as builders. They separated Roman citizens and auxiliary within the limes.

This order was valid until beginning of third century when all within the borders/ limes became Roman citizens. After that auxiliary meant people from people outside the borders. The Frisians were then called cunei = wedge which maybe tell us that they were used for attacking like a wedge. We can also note that the Senate was by then occupied by majority of senators from the provinces and many of the emperors were born outside Rome/ Italy.

We can note that there were also Sarmatians in England. They were originally prisoners after the war in 175 AD when Rome took 5500 prisoners and some of them were sent to England. In the evidence there is a Sarmatian wing at Ribshester. In a way all non-Roman soldiers were hostage and kept their native folks in peace with Rome.

The time span at the Hadrian Wall is about 10 generations so much water run and many things happened. Did all of the auxiliaries stay in England and did all of the cunei go back to their homeland? We will never know. At the wall was 10000 - 20000 men stationed at the wall and the nearby forts and Roman cities so it was a real contribution to the population for the time they were there.

The martial tactic changed with time and as usual both sides learnt from each other. In cavalry the Parthians were initially the great teacher. After the defeat 378 AD at Adrianopole the Romans needed rethinking since the Gothic heavy cavalry was behind the defeat. And soon came the Huns. So the cavalry learnt to use heavy spear and long swords and that demanded for bigger horses. The Parthians and Syrian alae could also use a bow when riding. The archers were the only good defence against the heavy-armed riders.

The light cavalry still used shorter sword and shield and was perhaps used for scouting and first aid. We do not know much about the part mounted tactics. They usually tell that the Herulian wins were light cavalry. We know about them indirectly through the runes and golden bracts. But the heaviest evidence is the finds of 585 Roman signet-rings found in Scandinavia. They think they were given as rewards mainly to the riders. We can compare the number with "only" around 400 find places of golden bracts. For the Herulian alae see more Heruli the history

Altars tell about their idols

Mars Thingso / Thingsus stele where a small part of the socket is missing.


 "To the god Mars Thingso the two Alaisagae, Bede and Femmilene and the divine spirit of the emperor, the German tribesmen from Tvihanti, true servants of the Augustus, willingly and deservedly fulfil their vow."

The altar is from the temple at Capel Hill south of the fort Housestead /VERCOVICIUM "The Hilly place". The fort cowers around two hectares and in south was the vicus / village for the families. The hills were terraced for agriculture. In the barracks there was room for 800 men and on the near line there were two mileforts for 60 men each. In the fort they have excavated latrine, granary, hospital, office, commandants home, ten blocks of barracks and other buildings.

The fort was build ca 122 - 125 AD probably the Legio II Augustus 1000 men strong. There is an inscription of the builders but at the name there is a lacuna. However other inscriptions confirms the time and builders. There is some altar for the Legio Sextae Victrixs too. After the builders came the ordinary auxiliary infantry The First Tungrian Cohort 1000 men strong but this was shared with Housesteads and other auxiliary units completed the strength.

The altars tell about the Hamian Bowmen from Orontes Valley Syria and at the fort is a unique tombstone showing a bowman with his double bow, dagger and axe of the type we know from Viking Age. His headgear is also unique with a peak. We see it in the Hittitian culture and in Bronze Age rock-carvings of Scandinavia. The latest with that martial headgear were the German soldiers although not so high peak.

The others were the part mounted cunei from Frisia that were not allowed to be Roman citizens. On this stone they tell about the people from Hof van Twenthe Overijsseln in the middle of Holland. Another altar 4th century was set for Numerus Hnaudifridi people from north of the former and this was a small cavalry unit. The altar was addressed to Alasigae Boudhillia and Friagabis in which we maybe see Bodil and the better-known Frigga. We do not know much about these idols but surely they were specialised for the household and domestic sphere.

For the First Tungrians from Flandern there was an altar to COCICIDIUS they usually compare with Roman Silvanus that is compared with Pan and Faunus. In a silly way a trick to describe a god by other gods and in first hand from the Greek pantheon. We always describe the unknown with the known and in this case they know no attribute to the Celtic idol. Anyway the idol was for rural people who loved the woods. Another similar was BELATUCADES compared with Cernunnos the horned one and an old European outdoor fertility deity. Originally it is the asterism we know as Perseus the pre-doer and fixstar for spring equinox around 1800 BC.

There are altars to the Mother goddesses and supposed to be three. It was the normal to split in three aspects or with the number show wholeness alternatively the three moon periods of the year telling that they followed the trinity all the year. There was also the war idol VHETERUS / HUETERUS .

It is natural that the idols of the Frisian were "rural" while the Roman Citizens brought the "urban" pantheon since the altars were often set up by the commanders. So we have other altars to IOVI/ Jupiter, Mars, Minerva, Fortuna and Mithras. Within the Housesteads there were around 30 altars and most of them were set up during the first century of the fort. It is natural since once set up no more is needed. The altars served the legionaries and their households until 391 AD when the old faiths were forbidden.

Next forth to the north is Carrawburgh / BROCCOLITA "badger holes" and it is a little smaller around1, 5 hectares. This was build by Cohors I Aquitanorum and Legio VI VICTRIX and later in early 3rd completed by The First Cohort of Batavi as we see from the inscriptions. Special features here were the bathhouse, the holly well and temple and the mithraeum. Altars to Mithras are also found in Housesteads and Rudchester

The Mithraeum


"To the Invincible God Mithras, Lucius Antonius Proculus, prefect of Antonine's Own First Batavian Cohort willingly and deservedly fulfils his vow."

To forget reality behind the personified and poetic language is easy. For sure the sun is invincible but do we really see the sun in the same way as the Egyptians told that the beetle rolls the sun when it run away with the dung ball. They think the sun/ heath is hidden in everything and for the Egyptians the sunrise was between the mountains as if it came from the rock.

In ritual language Mithras has the Sword of Truth in right hand and the Torch of Light in left hand. On the loop over him are the signs of the zodiac and as such it pictures the sun in the middle and the ecliptic around. This mithraeum is unique and normally the taurobolium = bull agenda shows Mithras fighting the heavenly Bull = Taurus with the zodiac as arch.

To the scene belongs also Cautes with a torch upward and Cautopates with the torch pointing down symbolising sunrise and sunset. In this place these two are separate statues in the mithraeum. Ordinary symbols are also the Moon Goddess or symbol and the Raven as messenger of the sun, Scorpio, the Snake and the Dog and they are all from the very old astro-symbolism.

As usual the interpreting depends on the background of the interpreter. One would say he sees the sunrise from the hills. Some would say that it symbolises Mithras born out of the rock and think maybe of the stony corn and the germ inside. The third have hens and think it is an egg and the sun has fostered the hen that gives the egg. Others are spiritual and think about mystic and then he is born out of the World Egg and is not all interested in rational explanations.

Best known relief theme is the fight with the heavenly Bull that originally was the Oxen but soon shifted to Taurus in Middle East and that is the asterism Kaitos below Perseus in the night sky. Perseus was maybe the first Bullfighter in myth and in Sumer. Persia or entire Middle East we have the original myth about the hero Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu fighting and dancing with Taurus as we see on seals and other artefacts. Already before 3000 BC the bullhead symbolised spring equinox and the Roman emperors wore bullhorns and we see it on golden bract of Scandinavia as the spring symbol. The yearly round began under the sign of the bullhorns.

To think about Napoleon when we see the headgear here is easy. Normally Mithras wears the Phrygian headgear when he fights Taurus and the French have taken these symbols to their heart. Maybe they did it already in the times when the federation of Celts extended to Phrygia/ Anatolia. The bullfight and symbolism is much older than the Mithraism we know. However maybe the Parthians brought Mithras as cult to the Romans in the times of Nero. They were hired as elite riders and the Persians in middle of 3rd century subdued the original Parthian kingdom. However the ideology was spread in Anatolia and Syria which is the places the Romans conquered. In England the Parthians were enrolled as Equites Crispianorum. Much later they were called Saracens as elite cavalry.

The above altar is unique but there was also a pair of normal altar stones with only inscriptions. The altars were flanked with Cauto and Cautopedes. Most of Mithras' temples are underground but this is a stone house 6 x 13 metres and wooden roof with the foundation still left. Immediately at the entrance there was a big fireplace and a bench. They speculate that maybe some initiating ritual was including heath, cold or/and fasting.

From the mithraeum of Felicissimus Ostia we can maybe reconstruct a little of the secret order. Some make it mysterious already before the analysis but here I see it as rational behaviour. It was much like the officers' club. There were seven steps in the course of sensitivity training that practically sorted out who was suited as higher officer. The steps were named the Raven, the Nymph, the Soldier, the Lion, the Persian, the Sun Messenger and the Father. At every step they wore different costumes and the mask was standard remedy.

Mask found at Gaardby Oeland

The symbolism with the "Face of Underworld" is very old and the mask was needed if looking into Underworld. Try for yourself when your are buried under the soil. The symbolic mask or ring used to look at the Otherworld has always been a warning to look out when going to the world outside Midgaard and it is quite natural. The Greek actors wore mask at the stage so that the public would not take them for the characters they presented on scene. Nowadays the old Chinese theatre paint the masks and in our world some women use mascara as a mask

In West Gautland there is the place name "Larv" = mask. The verb "larva" nowadays means silly behaviour and it tells what ordinary people thought about that. But we have plenty of masks on the golden bracts. The Gerete bract seem to show holly concepts similar to those in the Mithraism or taken from Nordic mentality.

The Nymph and Conventina

People of today would appreciate a well if there were minerals in the water so it would be a source of eternal youth or something like that. For people of those days the well was something like that. The well was the only source to clean and healthy water all the year. The worst time is autumn and early winter when there is little of oxygen in the water but much of rotten stuff.

The usage of beer was a way to get clean water if no well in the neighbourhood. No wonder that they made the well sacred and dedicated to some local water goddess. It was a way to tell people around were there was "Water of Life". Water and water circulation was early the essential rationality behind the myths and rituals.A bath is also a healthy thing … Life starts with water and three third of me is water and only a small fraction carry the electric signals of my thinking and intellectual and wise me.

At Carrawburg there was the small vicus occupied the low-lying marshy ground outside the south-west corner of the fort. They have found remains of no less than three temples; a mithraeum dedicated to the god Mithras, a nymphaeum dedicated to the local water deities, and a sacred well dedicated to the Celtic water goddess/ goddesses Coventina.

They have found a relief from the temple on which there are three of a kind. In Celtic three could symbolise three aspect of a process but normally they have different attributes then. In this case they are alike so maybe they should to be worshipped during three moon terms. That is the normal in Egyptian symbolism

All three of these temples are associated with a small tributary stream of Meggie's Dene Burn. The stream issues a spring consecrated to Coventina and runs beside the fort past the Mithraeum and the nymphaeum to the south-west, to empty into the River South Tyne near the Stanegate fort at Newbrough, three miles to the south.

In the holly well they have found 13487 coins, however they think that looters have been there and taken the most valuable things. The latest date on a coin is 407 AD and that is about the time the Romans left England. There was also a bath outside the fort. It would have been essential keep oneself clean at those camps. We know from 17th century wars that most of the soldiers being in forts died due to lack of food and dirty conditions. 

Amphitheater in Chester

Chester north of Carrawburg was a cavalry fort and as we know they were the elite soldiers. Here there are still remains of the biggest amphitheatre of 19 found in England The first timber-framed amphitheatre was built soon after the establishment of the fortress itself, sometime in the late 70s AD by Legion II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis. So this fort was build before the Hadrian wall and the cavalry were scouts in this parts of England. Soldier from nearby forts could surely visit/ use the theatre too.

They were mainly used for military training, but also for recreations (spectacula) such as bull baiting, cock fighting, mock hunts- in which well-equipped huntsmen slaughtered wild animals released into the arena- wrestling and boxing. This latter was a popular, though brutal sport in Roman times. The fighters wore no protection, and instead of gloves had metal-studded leather thongs wrapped around their wrists.

Amphitheatres were also used for the public execution of criminals- both military and civilian- and for the celebration of state and religious special events. These latter would have featured the sort of gladiatorial combat (munera) and a relief carving on slate, found nearby in Newgate Street, showing a retiarius- a gladiator who fought with a trident and net.

Roman and foreign gods

In the historical mirror it was just a guest performance in England of the Romans for around 350 years. The Roman Empire from "Romulus and Remo" to the last emperor in 473 AD or less than 1000 years. Some English historians speak about pre-Roman Barbarians and post-Roman Barbarians and they have obviously their intellectual ancestors in Rome and are not real Englishmen.

Naturally the Roman legions or specifically the Roman commanders brought the Roman pantheon with them and they also decided the texts made on altars for the auxiliary and hired "Barbarians" units. They have found around 2300 texts from a few letters to long descriptions of the legions.

Roman Jupiter with the Eagle was worshipped at least to decree of Thedosius in 391 AD and so also many of the other deities. Partly because they were personifications of different virtues and partly simply because they became words for phenomenon like Mercury that that gave name to day of commerce at Wednesday. Later the catholic Saints took over that part of language and society. … We can note from Finnish and other Scandinavian languages that Latin brought virtues into the language. In Swedish it is the suffix _HET and in Finnish _SUUS/ SYYS

So we meet Jupiter/ IOVI, Mars, Minerva, Mercury, Fortuna, Silvanus and more on the altar stones. Naturally these were urbanised deities from the upper class, while the hired auxiliaries brought rural deities. We get an impression how the tribal deities varied from tribe to tribe for instance between the Frisian tribes.

Scandinavians would prefer to see Tyr/ Tiw / Tis as the war good for some reason. Hard to believe since he lost his sword arm in Bronze Age. Only on one altar stone we have the possible Tyr as Mars Thingsus and that is naturally dubious translation. We know that Mars was the Roman war god with spear as attribute. For the local commander it was maybe natural that Mars stood for law and order. They think Mars was originally a god from agricultural spheres but we know little if he used something else than the spear in that profession.

In rock carvings we see a god that has lost the arm and as leader of the season ritual. Maybe it is the early Tiw / Tyr that is also associated to Taurus / Bull. In Nordic World Order the thane was ritual leader and yearman and the thing was the place were works and local order was decided in democratic order. It was the World Order of the peaceful society.

We have only this sample but we can deduce that mars Thingsus is the Frisian Tiw / Ziu we know from other sources. But the war god Vhetrerus/ Hueterus is the frequent on the altar stones. As mentioned above the Tungrians from Flandern got altars to Coccicidius the god from nature compared with Roman Silvanus or Celtic Cernunnos the god of fertility in nature.

Among the Friesians we see they favoured female pairs but with different names in the people from Twenthe and the neighbours Hnaudifridi. They have found many inscriptions in the provinces on the continent and we see the same pattern. Naturally the rural environment was homogenous so many of these names are synonymous and covers normally everyday life in the countryside.

Naturally Scandinavians and Edda lowers would look for Thor, but that is a latecomer and perhaps from Saxony since Thor occurs only in Saxon place names in England. Neither Wodan nor Thor is seen on the golden bracts. My guess is that the names were spread with the Frisian trade that began after the Golden Age. Thor's Hammer as amulet is found mainly near Birka the early trading place in Sweden.

We should be careful and not apply the Edda to times long before 13th century. Normally we define deities from their attributes or fragments from their myths and "naturally" we apply the Greek pantheon to the Nordic pantheon. Thor's fight with the Midgaards Worm is seen in reliefs even in the early church and the earliest occurrence is in a couple of rock-carvings. This reminds us of the eternal problems of mankind. However he surely was known of with another name. In a way it is the same theme as the two time snakes seen on many Viking Age rune stones.

We could compare the battle with Hemmingway's "The old man and the sea". Life is the struggle between building forces and destroying force. It is also Mithra's fight and Tiw's/ Tyr's fight with the virtual beast. That was originally the intellectual fight inventing and binding Time with words and manifestations.

I can recommend some sites. Roman.Britain.Org is big

This has about 1600 inscriptions from Roman Britain

This shows the amphitheatres