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I visited the Varus Battle site and museum in 2003 and came across an earlier version of this book and was fascinated then and now.
"The Quest for the Lost Roman Legions" relates one of the more amazing archeological journeys and detective work in modern times. It traces one man's tenacity, pursuing a theory in what the author calls "the long, exhilarating, and often frustrating journey to document where Varus and his men met their end".
Major Clunn, at the beginning of the events in 1987 stationed with the British Rhine Army in the Osnabrück area, is an amateur archaeologist and military historian, a combination well suited to the task he set himself. He had been intrigued by the assertion of the 19th century German historian Theodor Mommsen that coins found in the Kalkriese area indicated a specific topographic gap as the location of the Varus Battle. This assertion had always been met with deep skepticism by archaeologists and historians up to our era, whereas Clunn's military historian expertise led him to giving more credence to the claim. After he found several coins himself, pin-pointing the 9 AD time frame, he contacted the local archaeological authorities to gain official permission to continue his excavations. This was granted to him, although Wolfgang Schlüter, the man in charge, very much doubted that anything would come of it.
The results are now known to anyone interested in Roman and/or military history.
The two men eventually began to work closely together, even when Major Clunn was stationed in other parts of Germany and in London. Upon his retirement, Major Clunn settled in the Osnabrück area, and he continues to involve himself in Kalkriese and other archaeological research projects related to the subject.Read more ›
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Most of us in the USA have little idea of the impact of Arminius (Hermann) on the soul of German history. Nor do many realize that up to 9AD the Romans were actively patrolling modern Germany as far as the River Elbe. In fact the Romans acted as if they already owned the land EAST of the R. Rhine as far as the River Weser using their very strong military, tax-gathering and commercial presence centered at Minden (on the Weser).
For whatever reason(s) the Germans were done with Romans however and its clear that Arminius grossly outclassed the politically reliable Varus on the field of battle that Summer. This is more noteworthy given Varus' previous military successes in Syria and the fact that Arminius destroyed not two, but three heavy infantry Legions in a running battle that lasted for 3 or 4 days. Major Clunn, MBE, using extraordinary determination and a military eye for lay of the land, rediscovered the final battle site of the 17th, 18th and 19th Legions, in a killing ground that's been lost to history for 1700 years.
VARUSSCHLACHT - FOUND AT LAST
The Kalkriese site is no lager, fortlet or commercial way station as was made amply clear in an personal interview with Major Clunn. Major Clunn neatly demonstrated how landscape descriptions in the Histories of Cassius Dio were used to locate Kalkriese. Kalkriese was a prepared ambush / battle site from which few Romans emerged alive. Even those who did left evidence of their denouement in a peculiar starburst pattern on the far side of the ambush that when mapped pointed back to the trap between the Kalkriese hillside palisades and the bog.Read more ›
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It is difficult to agree with other chaps here that have cheered without any reservation and with so much hoopla this book by Tony Clunn. I agree it is certainly an interesting book and the author could truly boast of having produced an original script, an history book with part of it about his actual labors searching for the lost legions of Varus and the other, mixed with the first, presented in cursive letters, as a fictional narrative where historical and/or not so historical dramatis personnae incarnate what investigation and accurate search know by now about the battle.
But there is a reservation I feel it must be mentioned: being, as it is, a book organically and esentially asociated with geography because the first and esential question is, after all, "where this happened?", it comes as a nasty surprise the almost absolute lack of maps and geographical references to follow the prose of Mr Clunn. There is not even ONE useful map or drawing about the supposed area of the battle, even less of its specifics, its hills, woods, ravines, etc; what's more, the many verbal citations of places, towns, areas etc, lack also of any material reference, so I can imagine that even german readers not familiar with the lanscape of that specific area of Germany have lot of problems to understand the march of Varus troops, the place of the ambushes and the shape and location of the final slaughter field.
The book does not lack photos. Many of them are of the coins and artifacts found, even of the people searching for them in the field. Why was not possible to add some maps? A drawing of the total area of the battle? Perhaps an aerial photography? Was the author compelled NOT to do so due to some german laws or prohibitions about the shape of his territory?Read more ›