In some posts we tried to identify the cultural traits common to the people whose ancestors were subjects of the Roman Empire. One of the themes of this blog is in fact any possible remnant of the Ancient Roman world still surviving today.

The borderline or Limes of the Roman empire meant also the separation between what was Roman and what was non Roman. Particularly interesting is the central European Limes along the Rhine and the Danube, a sort of natural frontier of the empire since 7 C.E. onwards.

Ok, Roman and non Roman. Where are hence the traces of this disjunction in today’s societies?

Well, a lot of traces are there, since for example when Christianity breaks in two during the XVI century C.E. “is it by chance – argues French historian Braudel – that the separation of the fields occurs exactly along the axis of the Rhine and the Danube, the double frontier of the Roman Empire?” Really a good point, not many doubts about it.

Protestants and Catholics Split along the Limes

Luther in 1529 by Lucas Cranach.jpg

In 1517 the Protestant Reformation began with Luther nailing his 95 theses that will split West Christianity into Protestants and Catholics. “From 1545 (Wikipedia) the Counter-Reformation began in Germany ….Central and north-eastern Germany were by this time almost wholly Protestant, whereas western and southern Germany remained predominantly Catholic”.

This has to do with the Roman Empire border: namely the descendants of the romanized Germans mostly stayed with the Roman Catholics, which is amazing, while the descendants of the non romanized ones, plus other northern folks, left. From this fracture sprouted Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Presbyterian, Calvinists, Puritans etc.

Above you can see Luther in 1529 portrayed by the German painter Lucas Cranach.

The Ultimate Roman Border.
Attachment to a Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage LIMES logo

Some land reconnaissance now. First a nice map of the Roman Empire and its provinces. Then Wikipedia infos on the German Limes (Wikipedia is always a good initial info source, but nothing more). Also this map of the Roman provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior is not bad. And finally some info on the German Roman Limes, ultimate protection against the external Germanic tribes (Limes is Latin for Limit, border). A web site that now is no more was kept by those German federal states that actually were/are inside the Roman Empire. In it we did read:

“The Upper German-Raetian Limes (“Obergermanisch – Raetischer Limes” = ORL = Limes of the Roman provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior: see a map) marked the ultimate Roman border line in the north of the Roman Empire. It was erected against the Germanic people who were a constant threat to the antique world. Over a length of 550 km from the river Rhine in the northwest to the river Danube in the south-east the Limes extends across the four German federal states Rheinland-Palatinate, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.”

Kastell Welzheim, near the Limes, Porta Praetoria

These people are greatly attached to this heritage and have succeeded in getting a certain number of UNESCO-world heritage recognitions, like Regensburg (Ratisbona), and even the Projekt Weltkulturerbe Limes (project for the world heritage recognition of the German Limes) seems to have been accepted.

In the web site of the Deutsche Limes-Strasse Verein (the German Alliance For the Limes Roads) we read:

“the outer Upper Germanic-Rhaetian boundary wall (“Limes”) is one of the most outstanding archaeological monuments in Central Europe and has recently been put on the world cultural heritage list of the UNESCO. Many of the installations associated with the wall were unearthed as the result of excavations recently carried out by the different Regional Offices for the Protection of Ancient Monuments and have been conserved because of their excellent state of preservation.”

“They include forts, baths and towers together with parts of the fortifications themselves such as ramparts, ditches, walls and palisades. Also taken into consideration are museum-like facilities such as protective structures covering Roman ruins which are explained by plans, photographs and finds as well as archaeological parks located in the neighbourhood of boundary wall structures with reconstructed or restored exhibitions. Many of these areas are called “archaeological reserves” ….

“The German Limes Road runs close to the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes from the Rhine to the Danube. Most of the forts were founded at the beginning or middle of the 2nd century and existed until the end of the Roman occupation 260/270 A.D.. The “Limes” runs from Rhein-brohl to Regensburg ……We hope that you will get …a better understanding of the Roman past of this country and have a relaxing holiday …on the former borders of the Roman Empire.”

The Initial Battle of the Gladiator

For Roman-movies fiends (I am one of them) the Roman fortress Castra Regina (thence Regensburg) was founded in 179 A. D. for the Third Italic Legion during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (we are in the ancient Roman province of Raetia). Marcus Aurelius fought battles along the Limes against German (and non German) tribes.

Sounds like The Gladiator initial astounding battle scene doesn’t it? Well, that scene probably referred to the Marcomannic wars fought during the reign of Marcus Aurelius with battles mostly fought further north and beyond the Danube.

It doesn’t matter though since the area well corresponds to that film battle and its marvellously recreated atmosphere (see Regensburg in this map of Raetia and Germania Superior).


We are mentioning Raetia because we were there last August on a sort of pilgrimage along the Limes, and found out that Castra Regina is more or less the core of Regensburg‘s Old City or Altstadt. Thischarming city is located in north-eastern Bavaria, Oberpfalz.

Pfalz is German for Latin Palatium, which refers to the Palatine Hill in Rome (Latin Mons Palatinus). It is the hill where Rome started (according to legend and now also archaeology: first huts, then the town, on this and other hills) and where the Roman Emperors much later lived (the English palace, indicating an important building, comes from there).

From Palatinus derives Palatinate (Latin: Palatinatus), the area of the later German Holy Roman Empire, a sort of Middle Ages continuation of the Roman Empire. So it all fits together, as one can see.

The Last Italian City

Regensburg (Latin and Italian Ratisbona)

In Regensburg – right at the extreme (German) line of all this, the Limes going well beyond Germany – the population will later become Protestant, even though it has inherited this sort of Italian merry character, with people sitting in open-air cafés etc., like us in Rome.

“We are the last Italian city”, they say, which sort of angered some Munich friends of ours who said they were the real last Italians, not only because of the Catholic faith but also because of their even merrier festas with people dancing on tables in Oktober Fest.

They certainly said this to please us, but there is some truth, I believe: their elegance, their incredible love for Opera (more than us today alas) and good wine (like us) etc.

More on Regensburg arriving, which is a good observation point, and more of course on Bavaria and all, so to say, romanized Germany.


Marcus Junkelman clad as a RomanPS. We cannot leave this topic without mentioning an incredible person:
Dr. Marcus Junkelmann from Munich (*), world-famous pioneer of experimental archaeology, living in a castle and speaking fluently Latin, we heard. Historian of Roman Legions and Army, he has reconstructed Roman weapons, infantry & cavalry techniques.

We see his picture on the left, this is his web site and Dr. Wilfried Stroh is one of his colleagues and possibly friend. People like them are getting numerous also in parts of the UK, who is also becoming very pro-Roman (also the organisation Nova Roma, “dedicated to the restoration of classical Roman religion, culture and virtues”, shows how Roman mania can be both weird and fascinating).

References. The Braudel quote is from La Mediterranée, Fernard Braudel, Flammarion 1985. Translation by Man of Roma. Fernard Braudel is one of the greatest French intellectuals. Here a few links, just to give an idea of his work:
A nice synthesis on Braudel in English, plus the Fernand Braudel Center, at Binghamton University, State University of New York (“founded in September 1976 to engage in the analysis of large-scale social change over long periods of historical time”).


Other related posts:

Music, Politics and History
From the two Sides of the Roman Limes

103 thoughts on “Roman Limes. Between Two Worlds

  1. Another great tale. I did not know this aspect of the “last Italian city” in Germany. I guess this further reinforces my suspicion – and one you already knew and commented on – of this attraction between Italy and Germany. It seems Roman civilization had a great influence on this.

    Which brings me into another question. England (UK) was invaded by both Romans and Germanics (Angles, Jutes, Saxons). Yet, I do not feel there is anything that connects Britain to Italy in any way. In fact, I usually get the distinct feeling the UK has a somewhat condescending (if not superficial) view of Italy. You read it in their history books and in some cases how they interpret Italian soccer.

    Except for those Britons who actually take the time to study or work there. Rob Hughes, John Foot and Brian Glanville are examples of fabulous English sports writers who have a firm grasp of Italy’s culture and how it relates to soccer.

    Nor am I daft to not appreciate other great English writers and their appreciation for Italy. For his part, Harry Hearder is a British historian who shares this observation.

    I realize there are some Germans that hold similar views (I read somewhere that the Italian community has never been accepted in Germany) but as a general discussion, where does Britain break off from Germany when it comes to Italy?


    1. Please do not forget the old British enclave in Florence and that Tuscany has so many British residents it is often referred to as ‘Chiantishire’!
      Many British people adore Italy and appreciate its history ( certainly art ) and culture.


      1. Hello Jennifer,

        Welcome here! I know that many British people love Italy – I experienced that ‘enclave’ myself having a house in Tuscany; a similar British enclave is developing in Apulia etc. – and this sentiment is reciprocated, believe me.

        As my blog attests – and my affectionate readers from the British isles and from the US too, by the way – I have great love as well, although I never try to hide – no matter the topic – differences or difficulties, for the sake of discussion. Sometimes I am not tender with the British, with the Italians etc. (and with myself).


  2. @The Commentator

    Well, complicated but stimulating question(s) to answer, yours (as usual). I will just shoot some random thoughts and tomorrow I might reply more systematically.

    (The comments on my post Isn’t the British Trojan Horse a Short-sighted animal develop some topics regarding UK vs Italy; plus other posts like Ups and Downs as well)

    First of all, when dealing with foreigners, one has to accept bias and some sort of racism, this not being avoidable, for a number of reasons. Every person should be proud of his/her heritage, without becoming a nationalist though.

    As far as Italians, they should not develop any complex (I know many do: well, not me, that’s for sure) since the Italian contribution to world civilization has been so great, plus Italians are loved all over the planet more than the British or the Germans are, not many doubts about it (Italian, if I am not wrong, is the most studied non lingua franca in the world).

    Thus said, I think there is a general attraction-repulsion among the folks from North and South Europe. This includes the UK and Germany and other north European people vs South Europe and vice versa.

    It is in fact a two-way thing: not only many North Europeans dislike us, but it is also many of us disliking them. We (Italians, Spanish, Portuguese etc.) admire some of these people’s qualities, but we generally disapprove of their lack of taste and style and often see them as a bunch of depressed, rough drunkards. Of course this is not my view but there is some truth in this (like there is some truth in the flaws foreigners see in us). I am planning a post on this subject since a long time, North vs South in Europe, this sort of European neurosis, which is no big deal after all, this inter-cultural neurosis being widespread among all folks of the planet.

    Getting back to Europe, Goethe, a great lover of Italy – Do you know the land where the lemons bloom? – writes at the end of the XVIII century that he ‘forgives the Northern people who criticize Italy because these people (the Italians) are really so different from us’. It is so interesting how he emphasizes this ‘difference’ and his Italian Journey is a great book also from this point of view.

    How can in fact exist an easy comprehension among the people of the Mediterranean and the Hyperboreans, namely the northern folks living in a realm of clouds, rain, cold and darkness? Such diverse climate is a potent factor (together with a different history) for creating marked differences in behaviour, mood, disposition of soul etc., all of which makes mutual understanding difficult.

    (hyper-boreans is how the Greco-Romans called the people living beyond Boreas, the North wind)

    (I know I didn’t reply to your questions well … tomorrow, who knows… )


  3. I read somewhere that the Italian community has never been accepted in Germany

    This was more true in the past. Now Italians are a bit more integrated, altho this immigration is recent, only 50 years old or little longer. I’d say the Germans now have worse problems with non-EU immigrants. In any case they had this invasion of such different people, the Italians, it is understandable. And there is always a difference of attitude (towards Italians) between the so to say romanized Germany and the non romanized one. In many parts of Northern and Protestant Germany Italians are often disliked, it is true. The Northern Germans, the Dutch etc., for example, didn’t want the so called Club Med (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece) to become part of the Euro zone. They basically said: “These places are nice for vacation, nothing more…”.

    where does Britain break off from Germany when it comes to Italy

    Well, Germans are our neighbours, while Britain is so far. But I would say Britain breaks off from the entire Continent. They are islanders, and they do not feel European, and many people from the Continent (Italians included) return this feeling and find it hard to love them, I don’t see how it could be different. They (Italians, Continentals) admire some virtues the Brits have, but they seldom really love them (take the French or the Germans).

    But I do not agree on what you said: “I do not feel there is anything that connects Britain to Italy in any way.” First of all they are very attached to their Roman past. There is like a Roman frenzy now in Britain. Tomorrow the British Museum opens up with an exhibition on ancient Roman emperor Hadrian, the one who built the Hadrian Wall, another interesting Roman-non Roman Limes. Very complex and modern personality, Hadrian (see the exhibition trailer here). Hundreds of UK web sites celebrate Ancient Rome. Also in popular culture and movies (King Arthur, The Last Legion etc.) they feel they are (well, were) the heirs of the Roman empire.

    Plus Italy is admired by them in many other ways, and I am convinced – also because many Brits told me – that they are a bit envious: our culture and history are richer, our food better, our towns immensely more beautiful, people have more beauty and joy of life etc.. Ooopss, I forgot the climate lol. After all, tons of their literature is a hymn to Italy, think of Shakespeare, Byron or E. M. Forster (A Room with a View).

    As regards soccer… well lol, we won the world cup, not them. Italians are now very upset because Perfidious Albion is hiring a lot of Italian young (and cheap) promising players. We pay a lot for raising them, and they hire them. No, I wouldn’t say they don’t like our soccer, it’s just they realise it is so different from theirs. Soccer, like any sport, is revealing: we really are different people.

    So what, is that a problem? Difference creates complementarity, hence it makes the world a better place to live.

    Btw, I do not only admire the Britons….my love being superior to whatever they may think of us (and age being not only a disadvantage). 😉


      1. I’ve always thought that it produces an easier understanding. But, I’ll repeat, it is the real diversity that is one of the kicks of life.


  4. Thanks for this and you reminded me that Britons have been Italo-philes over the years. Closer to home Thomas Jefferson was one too.

    I have nothing but high regard for German and British culture.

    We’re just exploring things here but you make perfect sense.

    The Dutch, not without a wonderful and interesting history, strike me as angry people at times.

    I enjoyed your point about Italy’s reputation around the world. Unfortunately, I have not been to Asia. However, I remember a beautiful Indian girl I attempted to court telling me that for Indians, “Italy is the land of beautiful people.”

    I don’t know if this is true but given the ancient makeup of this majestic places, it only makes sense they would love Italy. Of the Mediterranean nations, Italy possesses a quality onto its own and I’m sure Asians see this.


    1. The Asian affinity to Italy is understandable in that the Italians are Etruscan in descent and therefore cousins (like the Greeks) of the Persians, who had their roots in western India. This is where the oldest city in the world lies submerged under the sea.


        1. Ther is 12000 year old submerged city (discovered recently) off the bay of Khambatta.


          1. Wow. I’ve got to have a closer look at that. This blog has many posts and discussions dedicated to India, and, for some strange reason, my first readers in 2007 were mostly Indians from the subcontinent.


          2. I must apologise for an error – the submerged city is in the Gulf of Khambat.


        1. My father was Scottish (from Glasgow!) and my mother half Scottish, half English. They met in Padua and were firm Italophiles. I was born in England.
          One of my father’s sisters married an Italian-Scot, and I have cousins in Sicily!
          Did you know that Pontius Pilate was half Scottish? His father was part of a delegation that arrived in Caledonia in 10 BCE to talk ‘peace’ before any invasion.


          1. Very interesting coincidences. And amazing that you have cousins in Sicily, probably the gem of the Italian South.

            I’m reading now in the wiki that Pontius Pilate was perhaps “the illegitimate son of a Roman ambassador sent to pacify the Picts and a Pictish girl”.

            I have a lot of interest for the ancient past of the British Isles. I was writing – for fun – a sort of *novel about ancient Britain*, at the times of the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Some of my readers had accepted to be the characters of the plot. But now I am in a blog jam as for that project.


          2. Thank you for some more info on Pontius Pilate, I am very interested, being Pictish on both sides. The Romans named them Picti because of their tattoos. What savages!

            Your book sounds interesting – the Anglo-Saxon/Roman mix has forged Britain. Strangely, I too am researching a book of the period 200 CE, involving Germany, Rome and Caledonia, that is how I came upon your site (which is marvellous) in order to learn more about the Roman limes. Incidentally, there are remnants of the Antonine wall at Bearsden (Glasgow).

            Thinking of the Asian connection, I wanted to add that most western nations must have roots in some way in India as our languages (even Celtic) belong to the Indo-European family of languages. Having said that, the Picts ( whose language was not Celtic), were of Mongolian descent.


          3. Hi Jennifer and thank you.

            Interesting that you trace your ancestry back to the Picti. It’d be interesting to know how.

            My book is kinda aborted. I have to find back the inspiration to continue it. A character, in that story, was a woman of Pictish origin, a woman with magic powers, daughter of a Romano-Celtic father and a Pictish mother.

            This Mongolian origin of the Picti surprises me. And in fact, more than a novel, my story was an opportunity to research on a fascinating past. I have learned (and studied) so much in the months I have been writing it, and I have to thank my British isles readers – both English and Celtic – who gave me inspiration and advise. Que sera sera.

            The Antonine wall close to Glasgow is remarkable. It is typically Roman that, even at the (dangerous) borderline of their empire, they wanted to relax in bathhouses.


  5. @The Commentator

    The Dutch …strike me as angry people at times.
    Well, I do not share this opinion. They are stubborn, they have been maltreated by the British in South Africa, but they are very refined, open-minded, full of virtues. Basically, they are Germans who had greater success in history…


  6. Yes. It was a tad exaggerated and designed to elicit a thought. Truth be told, this is something someone told me while they worked in Switzerland. I tend to see it your way. I hope my Dutch friend doesn’t read this!

    They are also notoriously difficult to coach in soccer! Like, erm, Italians…heh.


  7. @The Commentator
    They are also notoriously difficult to coach in soccer
    Ahhahh, yes they are 🙂

    a beautiful Indian girl I attempted to court telling me that for Indians, “Italy is the land of beautiful people.”
    Well, no idea about this. We should ask Indians, and yes, I wish this could be true, because Indian women are beautiful 😉


  8. Ciao Man of Roma!
    Thank you too.
    I must say your book would make a lovely movie – please get back your inspiration! It would have great appeal in this country certainly.

    I know it sounds incredible about the Pictish – Mongolian connection; the ancient Picts were related to the Sami of north Sweden (and also the Native American) who have their origins in Siberia/Mongolia – there is much evidence for this which I will expand on later! It seems that some Picts became sea-farers also.

    McCartney is a Pictish name – a genealogist told me some time ago (Gartnaith (sometimes spellt Artein) was a chieftain of circa 200CE). One of my mother’s clans is the MacMillan – apparently also Pictish.

    Thinking about the Romans and their bathhouses – it is amazing how modern and sensible they were – attending to central heating and always maintaining their standard of luxury.
    We are constantly shown documentaries about them here and digging up finds – a little bronze statue has been unearthed recently in Gloucestershire (I believe) from a child’s grave – circa 200CE again.

    While investigating Wiesbaden (Aquae Mattiacorum) with regard to the Roman Limes, I was astounded to learn that the thermal springs there were used by the Roman cavalry to exercise their horses! This, I thought, was a modern practice, but no, as with things like Customs & Excise and even padlocks and glass, the Romans were way ahead!

    Britain was not entirely savage (my words); there is the 4000 year old gold cape of Flintshire for example.
    Ciao for now!


      1. I have entertainment value!
        I just wanted to add (with reference to your interesting point about the Roman bathhouses on those bleak frontier posts) that I understand the Romans were very clean and it was always a priority wherever they were.


  9. @Jennifer

    Ciao Woman of Scotland! (Or, should I say, Pictland?)

    Of course you have entertainment value, a Scottish woman from such fascinating world! 🙂

    I’ve read here and there about the possible origin of the Picts, who lived north of the the Forth-Clyde isthmus, and although (from quick & superficial readings, I’ll admit) I got into the idea there’s no solid evidence of where they came from, many seem convinced of their eastern origin. There must be reasons for that, I guess, some of which you have mentioned yourself.

    That Paul McCartney was Pictish amuses me – he was one of my idols, of course.

    Yes, the Romans were clean, and also the Italians during the Renaissance – but unfortunately in parts of this country they care more about personal hygiene and less about public spaces cleanliness.

    Of course Britain was not entirely savage! I’ve also read how new finds show that the Picts too might have developed a culture more complex and refined than one might think.


    1. Salute Romano!
      I absolutely agree that there are many theories about the origin of the Picts, infact I’ve read that there were ancient Picts and then a later group who arrived from the west – the Dalriada ( who were probably Gaels from Ireland but also called Picts). The McCartneys are said to be Dalriada in origin – it gets very confusing! My father was half Irish with a smattering of Anglo-Saxon, so a real mixture!
      I’m glad you like Paul – he is a double of my late uncle, so I hope we are related!
      It is said that the Scots were of Scythian origin (named Scotti by the Romans – meaning raiders that move around!) – they too came over from Ireland. I believe they were asked to come by a Pictish chief to help attack the Romans.

      You are good to acknowledge the achievements of the Picts – there are 2000 year old stone forts in the west of Ireland and at Burghead in Scotland that were built by so-called Picts, so they must have been more sophisticated than we know.

      You made me chuckle in referring to the subject of cleanliness. You have enlightened me about the Renaissance Italians – one of my favourite periods of history – yet again, we have so much to thank them for.


  10. I just wanted to mention some remnants of ancient Rome in Britain. There are place names still in use such as Pontefract, Chew Magna and Strata Florida. The people of Bath say theirs is a Roman town. People’s names like Postlethwaite – are a blend of Roman and Viking, and girl’s names like Sylvia and Flavia are still in use.
    There is the Scottish kilt (now modified) but still a remnant of the Roman toga.
    Not so long ago, our currency – pounds, shillings and pence was symbolized by £.s.d – Lire. sesterce. denarius and our measurments were in Roman 12’s not 10’s.
    At school, Latin students chat away in Latin at each other!
    We are very proud of our Roman roads, our A1 (London – Edinburgh) is known as the old Via Aurelia and we say ‘All roads lead to Rome’!

    One last thing, some interesting letters to friends and relatives, written on wooden tablets, have been unearthed at Hadrian’s Wall. One is from the wife of the camp commander to her friend (10 miles away), asking her to come to dinner, another from a soldier asking for more clothes to be sent to him from home. So modern!

    I wish you a Happy Christmas!


  11. One last comment.
    Regarding the link between Germany and Italy; I have been researching the Germanic tribe the Chatti and, insodoing, discovered a theory that these people were Hittite (and therefore Assyrian) in origin.
    Apparently the city of Trier was founded by an Assyrian prince (2000 BCE)

    Tacitus wrote that their god was Mannus (the Indo-European for Man).

    If Nineveh was their Urheimat, then there is a Mesopotamian connection with the Italians.


  12. @Jennifer

    Thank you for your great stimuli and in-depth comments Jennifer. I’ll be with you when I can since we are in the middle of Christmas preparations.

    Merry Christmas to you and to all your beloved ones, Woman of Scotland!


  13. @Jennifer

    Let me reply randomly Pictish woman 🙂

    I find the old gold cape of Flintshire as further evidence of one of the most enthralling historical mysteries: prehistoric North Europe was perhaps much more civilized than people usually think. It is clear, for example, that the Stonehenge people possessed advanced knowledge and technology. The Greco-Roman myth of the Hyperboreans – this legendary people living in a pagan Eden beyond Boreas, the north wind, and who were imagined as perfect and almost god-like – could be a bit more than a myth.

    I did some research on Orpheus, the great musician and prophet, and on Orphism: many papers brought me more north than Thrace, where he was supposed to come from. It is well known that Orpheus & Phythagoras are linked to the mystery religions so fundamental in classical antiquity. Here scholars see possible contributions from prehistoric North Europe, from the East and from India (reincarnation etc.)

    One must not though be too carried away by enthusiasm. There are papers and there are papers. But fancy can run and for my book I was searching for inspiration (and a good friend, a solid scholar, was checking my work a bit).

    Climatic changes were dramatic and North Europe underwent through phases of better climate which perhaps favoured interesting developments.

    The ancient Mediterranean people were well aware of this, if we have to believe Plato’s Timaeus (21c onwards) where the Egyptian priests tell Greek Solon about advanced and much-older-than-the-Greeks civilizations (“you Greeks are very young compared to us, and have forgotten” said the priests to Solon more or less). Such civilisations were wiped out – said the Egyptian priests – by cataclysms, climatic changes etc.

    [More later]


    1. Thank you Man of Roma for your reply! It shines a light on the possible reasons why things were lost to us.
      The Romans referred to Britain as the ‘tin islands’ and it is thought that the Phoenicians and Greeks came here to extract it before them (also copper).
      It seems that metallurgy during the early Bronze Age made traders from central Europe and the Mediterranean travel long distances, the sea was their super-highway.
      There are passage tombs as per the Etruscans and Greeks (there is a marvellous one at Newgrange in Ireland) and even an early pyramid type tomb with hundreds of standing stones at Carnac in France – said to be 7000 years old.
      It is good to be reminded of Stonehenge.

      I just wanted to add some more Roman remnants: they introduced the growing of grapes here and we have vines in Kent and Cornwall producing some good wines.
      Our frontier walls were used not just for defence but for immigration contol – they wanted to know who was entering and leaving the empire.
      We still have the remains of amphitheatres (at St. Albans and Cirencester) and of Roman villas e.g Fishbourne Palace and Chedworth. And, of course, we as people must have some Roman blood – I knew a Captain Caesar-Gordon whose family claimed descent from Julius Caesar, and he actually resembled him!
      Lastly, there is the U.S Senate.
      I know there are hundreds of other things that the Romans gave us.

      Good news about your book!


    2. I just wanted to add that I found your reply informative and inspiring – you would be an exceptional teacher. You have given me much ‘food for thought’.
      I absolutely agree that none of us really know who created these marvels, and it is enthralling. I also agree with your point about enthusiasm!


  14. @Jennifer

    Hi Jennifer! Thank you. You are too kind but pls do not over evaluate me.

    We talked about so many things that I’ll again comment randomly.

    I checked the Dalriada. I knew something of them but not much. You are right. It is a bit confusing: Scots, Hiberni and Dalriadia seem to be the same people, basically Irish come to Scotland. Many difficulties in writing my so-to-say novel had actually arisen from my scarce knowledge of the history and of the legends of the British Isles.

    Thank you for the information regarding the Roman remnants in Britain. The Roman influence there was probably very strong (400 years is quite a long time), yet one has the impression that the Romanized Britons were like overwhelmed by the Anglo-Saxons who could have more or less wiped them out.

    Bede, an Anglo-Saxon himself, wrote that many young had died in previous wars so that the Britons were unable to defend themselves when the Germans arrived. He also mentions massacres provoked by various enemies.

    Perhaps, as far as I understood, only the Welsh (and the Bretons of France) may be the true descendants of the Romanized Britons who inhabited the province of Britannia. Of course many traces survived in Britannia (habits – you mentioned the kilt -, monuments, names etc.) but it is amazing that recent genetic researches suggest how the DNA of the Welsh seems totally different from that of the rest of the British population.

    More below. Ciao


  15. @Jennifer

    I agree and there seems to be evidence that not only Italy but other places more north too are somewhat linked to the East. As for us many legends suggest this (Aeneas, our forefather, coming from Troy in Asia Minor), and the Greeks themselves that settled in South Italy – not to mention the Etruscans – were from the east of the Mediterranean.
    In the Romans there was also the desire to ennoble their roots since many eastern areas were more civilized than the West.

    In truth we know so little about prehistoric times (in general and as for North Europe – when folks were not yet able to write ‘histories’, or such histories may have been lost) but we begin to understand that there is much more than we had previously thought. Which brings me back that that passage by Plato that I find particularly fascinating.

    In *this chapter* of my story- a totally crazy scene in an Anglo-Saxon taberna; pls consider it is only a draft – I explain what I was learning about the Anglo-Saxons vs the Romano-Celts in the course of the story writing.

    I also mention two places where many characters of the plot are from: schoolmates who studied in Italy [basically some of my readers made younger lol], scions from Romano-Celtic clans from the West (Cadbury Hill and Castle, Somerset) and from the North (Banna, Birdoswald, at the west end of Hadrian’s Wall), locations where the language of Rome and Romanitas had survived and where the commerce of tin – since you so justly have mentioned it – surely played a big role to link such places to the Mediterranean, despite the increasing collapse of the Roman world.




    1. Happy New Year Giovanni! Thank you again for your replies. You are correct about what happened to the Romano-Celts after the Romans left. Some time ago, a friend ( who had researched his Anglo-Saxon roots), told me that the entire population of Bristol (for example) was annihilated – there was, in fact, ‘ethnic cleansing’. I did not realise this – I tended to think that the Anglo-Saxons just moved in quietly!
      There is still an elitism in England regarding the Celtic nations – it must be a ‘hangover’ from those times. In Chester, up until about 100 years ago, it was legal for an Englishman to shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow!
      The Welsh are lovely – soulful and poetic – great singers like the Italians and gleeful too. I am interested (but not surprised) that their DNA is different.
      It is good that you have read the Venerable Bede – it is more than most of us British have done!
      I am fascinated about the Roman dialects near the Wall – thank you.

      Your book sounds exciting – I do wish there had been more recording of history to help any of us now. Yet again, we have to thank what the Roman and Greek writers have given us.

      Leaping back to Roman remnants – have you heard of the Roman garden of Butrint, Albania? Apparently there are statues of lions in amongst the wild flowers – it is so moving. This garden can be viewed from southern Italy with a telescope.
      Ciao! Jennifer


      1. It is good that you have read the Venerable Bede
        Well, without the help of Bede, how could one write something on ancient Britain. I read though only half of his ‘Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum’.

        There is still an elitism in England regarding the Celtic nations – it must be a ‘hangover’ from those times.
        Interesting information, though sad.

        I am fascinated about the Roman dialects near the Wall – thank you.
        I was of course referring to the 5th and 6th century AD.

        have you heard of the Roman garden of Butrint, Albania?
        No, Jennifer. So thank you for the tip. Happy 2012 again!


        1. Forgive my inane comment about your reading Bede – of course it would be essential for your book. It is good to be reminded of him.

          Don’t laugh, but, I learned today of another thing the Romans introduced to us here – the art of cooking! I wonder how we ate when they arrived – probably half an ox on a spit!


          1. Thank you Giovanni. I agree, the whole exchange has been enjoyable and rewarding.
            Every success with your book!


          2. Giovanni, I’ve just ‘resurfaced’ with some input. Thinking of the effects of the old Roman borders, it is interesting that Scotland is facing a referendum on devolution from England. Before the advent of the Romans this was one land; the Romans, in effect, created the 2 nations and it still holds good to this day.
            A news item today fascinated me in the light of your info on the Welsh Romano-Celts – in Pembrokeshire they still celebrate the Julian calendar. Today is their New Year’s Day! They have been on the TV singing. I have been intrigued that the Western Roman Emperor – Magnus Maximus married a Welsh princess. They called him Macsen Wledig.
            Finally, harking back to a question on your blog about Britain in relation to Italy, I forgot to mention that I heard (a while ago) that the Italians used to call an Italianised Englishman “un diavolo incarnato”!

            Best wishes.


  16. @Jennifer

    Hi Jennifer!
    Intriguing how the Romans having not conquered Scotland it may have had an influence on Scotland and England remaining two separate nations.

    The ‘Italianized Englishman is a devil incarnate’ … according to *this reconstruction* of how the Britons view Italy during the centuries, such proverb belongs to the Renaissance time, when Italy was both admired and feared being too different. So, admiration but also italophobia. I speak about this *here* and present my interpretation of the phobia side.

    That Magnus Maximus (Macsen) is mentioned in some legends to have married Helen, a Welsh princess, was known to me. In fact Massimo, a character in my story, will marry Deirdre who is actually half Irish and half Welsh and is also called Helen.

    Grazie e ciao!


    1. Giovanni, I just thought I’d give you my ‘take’ on the ‘Italianised Englishman’. It might refer to the young Englishmen (such as Byron) who undertook the Grand Tour of Italy to improve their classical education, and ended up imbued with the attributes of both nations – a devilish mix!
      Many thanks.


        1. I absolutely agree. My father was such a man – he had lived in Florence for 4 years in his youth, and what a fine creation he became!


          1. Giovanni, apologies, another error of mine – he was 4 years in Italy, one year of which was in Florence. My mother was about to attend art school in Florence when she met him – so that was the end of that!
            Both parents were artistic, as are my brothers and I. Our roots in Italy are purely spiritual!


          2. Hi Giovanni,
            Hope you are doing well!
            I just wanted to add some thoughts. Agricola fought a huge battle in Caledonia (Mons Graupius) in 83 or 84CE – I wonder what he would have said about Romans and Picts communicating on machines nearly 2000 years later?!

            Referring back to my comment on Scottish devolution, I do appreciate that the Romans never fully conquered Scotland (though under Agricola this was achieved, but abandoned by Domitian); I meant that the fact of the Roman walls created a ‘divide’ which evolved into the 2 countries.
            Best wishes!


  17. Hi Jennifer, glad you’re back! What you are saying is interesting. I checked the Grampian mountains, one of the ranges forming the Highlands. It seems Tacitus used the name you mention. One (almost off topic) question: are you for the devolution? (simple curiosity, since I know Scottish people are very proud. Not to mention the Pictish lol)


    1. Hi Giovanni -it’s good to be back! Regarding devolution, you pose a difficult question. In my heart I’m for it. Scotland is so beautiful and so different. It has a small population and probably enough resources in order to prosper. The history of the unification with England is painful – there was great cruelty and many Scots resent the English. Many English feel the Scots to be a burden, yet there would have been no British Empire without them.
      You are right, the Scots are proud and have felt subdued by England for a long time. The placing of the Stone of Scone beneath the English throne in Westminster Abbey was a pointed humiliation. Perhaps it would be a good thing for Scotland to no longer be an adjunct of England.
      Yet, for practical reasons, it might seem a little late now for separation. Like a lot of British people, including the Queen, I am a mixture of Scots and English and our British flag would look odd without the cross of St.Andrew! There would be a sorrow, in a way, to separate from England. The talk is that most Scots will vote against devolution.
      Ciao again for now!


    2. Giovanni, one further thought; it is interesting that the Roman walls created a division within Scotland also. Septimus Severus annexed the ‘buffer state’ inbetween Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall 1800 years ago, this incorporated much of present day lowland Scotland.
      My mother told me that her father, a highlander, always said that my father was not a real Scotsman, coming as he did from the lowlands! My father laughed it off, but it is true that highland and lowland Scots thought of themselves as different. Could this stem from the Romanisation of much of the south of Scotland all those years ago?


      1. Wow, Jennifer, this lowland-highland division is really stimulating. Being busy at the moment I’ll reply at a later time. But I want to say yours is a big contribution to the post subject: the Limes and the Roman-non Roman separation.
        Thank you dear Jennifer!


        1. Giovanni, thank you for your kind words. I’ve really enjoyed contributing. I thank you for providing a ‘platform’ for everyone to share their thoughts and information on the subject, and also to learn.
          My best wishes!


        2. Dear Jennifer,

          It is sad to consider how history can be hard. We’ve had our tragedies too.
          We’ll see what will happen with separation. I am not qualified to discuss Scottish matters, and I wonder what role Scottish oil may play in this whole matter, since it is clear that such resource would make Scotland self-sufficient. But this is a very superficial thought.

          As regards lowland and highland Scottish people, it is tempting, to a lover of Roman history such as I am, to think that they differ because of Romanization, but we must consider that there is often a marked difference (or just a perceived one) between mountain people and lowland people. In Piedmont for example – a North-West Italian region – people from the highland (the prealp area) feel different (and ‘true Piedmontese’) vis-à-vi the lowland Piedmont population even if they stem from the same Ligurian-Celtic breed and their dialect is similar.


          1. When my sister-in-law married a fiery descendant of Scots, I asked him if he spoke Erse; he answered disdainfully: “That is a Highland dialect” and huffed away.
            Paul Costopoulos


          2. Funny, Paul, and new information to me, thank you.

            I checked ‘Erse’. It seems to mean ‘Irish’ in Scots and it refers to the Gaelic language spoken in Scotland centuries ago. There seems to be a big connection between Ireland and Scotland. I guess this fiery descendant of Lowland Scots is a Canadian. As you know any cultural transplanting to the New World fascinates me.


          3. Dear Giovanni, it’s me again! Sorry! Thanks for your clarity of thought regarding highland/lowland, north/south divides. I just felt that the fact of the Roman presence in southern Scotland is overlooked and might have had some effect. Highlighting Scottish oil is accurate since it must have given weight to the devolution movement.
            I am interested in the dicussion about Erse. It is thought that the original Scots came from Ireland, I wonder if it was their dialect?
            Regarding cultural transplanting, there is a famous American actress who is a descendant of Roman Emperor Maximus Thrax, via the Visigoth kings of northern Spain.


  18. @Jennifer

    Why sorry Jennifer? Your presence is a joy to me. You said above:

    I too am researching a book of the period 200 CE, involving Germany, Rome and Caledonia, that is how I came upon your site

    Are you researching, or researching plus writing, a book? I’d love to know.

    I am interested in the discussion about Erse. It is thought that the original Scots came from Ireland, I wonder if it was their dialect?

    I think so, but I got zero knowledge about it.

    Allow me this side note from the entertainment industry: I cannot forget that scene from the film Brave Heart where the English and the Scots coming to battle and the English sending forward their Irish troops first, these fraternize and embrace the Scots instead of fighting them – and the English exclaiming with contempt: “Ah these Irish!”, which at the time made me think of how the Scots and the Irish were actually relatives.

    And, of course, who is this American actress? Altho I find it hard to believe in the possibility of tracing one’s origin back to a Roman emperor: so far away in time. But in any case lol.



  19. Dear Giovanni, you are so kind – I thought I might be becoming a post-pest! Yes, I am writing a book. It’s about the Chatti (with whom I have a connection). Yet again, as with much that interests me, it’s based on conjecture.
    There is a theory that, around 200CE, after years of conflict with the Romans, some of this tribe migrated from Germania to the north of Scotland and that the great Clan Chattan was formed by them. It was a confederation of clans as they had had in Germania. The McCartneys
    (MacArtneys etc.) are members of 2 clans of Clan Chattan – the MacIntoshes and the Farquharsons. There are, however, contradictory theories about Clan Chattan.
    I am delighted to learn of Erse – this site is educational!
    You are right, the Scots and Irish are closely related. I love Braveheart.

    The actress is Brooke Shields. Through her paternal grandmother, Princess Marina Torlonia of Rome, she is descended from the wonderful King Henry IV of France (Henry of Navarre). His line goes back to Brunhilda of Toledo (Queen of the Franks, born in 540CE) who was descended from a Roman Emperor (I believe to be Maximus Thrax).
    I know it is incredible, but there is also the British actor, Christopher Lee, whose mother was an Italian princess, who can trace his family back 2000 years! I am an esoteric curiosa, n’est-ce pas?


    1. Dear Jennifer,

      your book appears very exciting. I learn that the Chatti were, among the rest, allies of the Cheruscan Hermann and were those who, according to Tacitus, wore an iron ring as a sign of shame – they could get rid of it only the day they killed an enemy.

      I checked Brooke Shields’ genealogy and I could (sort of) trace her ancestry back to Brunhilda but no further. Which doesn’t mean much, since mine was a hasty search.

      It is not common nowadays to find a person with your historical interests. May your research be fruitful (and thrilling), woman of Pictland!


      1. Thank you Giovanni! Re the Chatti, they also grew their hair long and shaggy which is the meaning of the name Cattanach in Scottish Gaelic. After my comment about Septimus Severus’ annexing the buffer state, which was around the same time of their supposed migration to Caledonia, it occurred to me that maybe it was because he knew they were there.


      2. Giovanni, I forgot to mention that, strangely, I am just writing about Hermann (Arminius)! You are right, the Chatti, former rivals of the Cherusci, did join them in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. Their rivalry resurfaced some years later and Adgandestrius, Chief of the Chatti, wanted to poison Hermann!


        1. @Jennifer

          I saw the plaque of Arminius / Hermann der Cherusker at the Walhalla temple in Bavaria. We went there with a German friend. The visit was moving for reasons too long to explain. I love and respect German culture very much – but was a bit defeated by the German language (which I can only read).


          1. Giovanni, about your visit, I think I understand your being moved. Hermann was courageous. Concerned for his people, he took on the might of Rome at the height of its power. He wanted all the tribes to unify, which was not achieved.
            It’s good you read German. I learned it at school and love to discover the very old words still in use in English.
            I had an elderly relative in Aberdeen who pronounced eight as acht.


          2. Well, the person we were with was an older-than-us German, moved and saddened while watching such memorial representing the German culture & the dreams of the past generations. His generation bore the marks of all that had happened. A brief but deep and tragic moment that only Germans can evoke and that enveloped us all. In another occasion he had said: “I understand we were guilty but destroying almost all our cities was too great a punishment.”
            I always loved German culture. In case you are interested I express this love here and here.


          3. Thank you for expressing this Giovanni. I understand.
            My heart is heavy for what happened in the past, it was shameful. There is more I could say.


          4. Dear Giovanni, hope you are well. I just wanted to correct a mistake I made about the location of the submerged ancient city. It is in the Gulf of Kachchh (Kutch).
            I have finished my book at last.


  20. @Jennifer

    Dear Jennifer, thanks for the correction and for popping in. I am fine, thank you, and am glad you finished your book! I am preparing a course for the UPTER (Università per la terza età) about the subject of this blog. Classes will start on October next and I am very excited. I too hope you are well. All the best Jennifer!


    1. Giovanni, this is wonderful news about your university course – you are clever. I feel so many people would benefit from the subject and related content. There is something elevating about your idea – something to do with a better world in thinking about the effects of ancient Rome.
      I was going to mention that, recently, on our TV, we have had 2 programmes which appear to me to have been influenced by your blog! One was a late night news programme and the other is a new series about the history of Britain’s people – the effects of Rome included!
      I wish we had Roman weather here – we are still in winter!
      God bless!


      1. Your mentioning the weather made me laugh. I’ll tell you, it is so awfully hot now in Rome that I doubt you people from Scotland would love that 🙂
        As for those two TV programmes, I think you are over-evaluating the Man of Roma lol. Rome is fashionable nowadays and these ideas are in the air. In any case I’ll try to give my students all I can.

        Ciao and …Rath oraibh

        (I imagine it is Irish, could not find a Scottish Gaelic translator)


        1. I know I tend to talk in superlatives, but here is another snippet of info that made my mouth fall open – the Romans had apartment blocks! Their legacy is the modern world!

          Re TV programmes, the late news one was apropos cultural divides in Germany, and they even used the same portrait of Martin Luther.
          Btw, you are right – too hot weather makes me feel poorly.

          Slainte mhath!


        2. Here I go again! Re ancient submerged cities – there is one in the Gulf of Khambat, and also another in the Gulf of Kutch!


        3. Dear Jennifer,

          I thank you very much for all your writings on my blog. They enrich it. And submerged cities are certainly fascinating.

          Do dheagh shlàinte!


          1. Dear Giovanni,
            Thank you for your kind words. On your blog I find an outlet for my thoughts and findings. It is exceptional.
            Strangely, there is a programme on soon (here) about Pavlopetri – another submerged city! There are others off Gibraltar, Ireland and Cuba (I think).
            The theory is that they are ‘Ice Age’ cities, including those in South America. This may well be the ancient civilization that you mentioned – so much older than those we know of.
            They have found bronze tools in the Americas which are of a civilization many thousands of years old. I am interested in the Lacondon people – a remnant of the Mayans. These people have Siberian DNA and are also related to the Sri Lankans of India!
            There is a theory, which I decided upon before I read it, that the people in question are the Phoenicians – ancient expert navigators and engineers. I also believe that the Etruscans were related to them. It is interesting how the Romans were the engineers of the ancient world.
            It is incredible also that they had obstetrical instruments to help women.
            The Chinese are thought to have agriculturalized rice, but the Tamils of southern India claim it was they who did this and took it to China – they were Sea Peoples for thousands of years. Their temples and even board games resemble those in Yucatan!
            What has this to do with ancient Rome’s limes you may ask?!!
            One last snippet: aerial photography has discovered an ancient submerged causeway between Sri Lanka and the mainland!
            Take care and forgive my ramblings!


          2. Harking back to Roman remnants and their continued effects, a recent excavation at Colchester barracks, Essex, has unearthed more than a Roman ‘circus’ for chariot racing.
            Colchester (Camulodunum) was the first Roman town in Britain and has always been an important army garrison since 43CE. It still is.
            They discovered that every building, including the stables for the horses, still has its original function and exists on the same site from Roman times. I find that amazing.


          3. Dear Giovanni,
            Recent news item: As part of an artistic festival for 2012, the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall has been illuminated with 500 large balloon lamps! It is hoped this will attract 1000 visitors.
            The enthusiastic announcer said, “The old desolate frontier is now as lively as it was under the Romans!”


  21. Great work! This is the type of information that are meant to be shared around the internet. Disgrace on the search engines for not positioning this publish upper! Come on over and talk over with my website . Thanks =)


    1. Ciao Giovanni, come sta?
      I just wanted to add one more note on the subject of Hadrian’s Wall and also the Antonine Wall. I discovered (whilst researching the Chatti) that the Chatti were already in Britain before 200CE in the form of the Batavian auxiliary soldiers who guarded the walls. The Batavi were a branch of the Chatti who had been subdued by the Romans.
      The soldiers were given parcels of land after 25 years’ service near to their stations. Hence, the limes created population diversity.
      What a mixture we are in these islands!
      Ciao for now.


        1. Molto bene grazie e felice. I wish my Italian was as good as your English! Parlo solamente poco Italiano!
          In Britain we are going ‘potty’ over all things Italian and Roman!


          1. I should explain – ‘potty’, in this context, is a British word for ‘mad’.


          1. Mille grazie Giovanni – how kind are the Italians! I’ve noticed your gentility towards people even during rugby matches – it is a mark of a civilised society – and what a beautiful language you have which I must learn!
            May I share a thought about the Etruscans? I have been absolutely ‘bowled over’ by their sarcophagae, representing not just the person but also their spirit as they were in life, in action; couples sitting together smiling or holding out their hands to each other in humour – so unique, adorable and clever and so different to the solemn depictions of most effigies. How modern were the Etruscans!
            Do you suppose that they were carved in advance of the deaths of the subjects?


  22. Thank you lista opium! Apologies, it was 400 balloons. Creator, Prof. Zachary Lieberman, said the creation has never been seen before (the longest piece of art ever!) – transforming Hadrian’s Wall into an artwork to celebrate the whole of the wall…to allow people to share their physical and emotional experiences and thoughts about borders…a poetic way to use technology, the connecting lights – a bridge not a barrier.
    He said Hadrian’s Wall was one of the most significant structures of the Roman Empire.
    The balloons transmit messages between each other, changing colour in response.
    Hopefully, it will revitalise the wall, getting people to think about an amazing heritage!


  23. @Jennifer
    @Lista opium

    No problem about ramblings. Blogs are places for that. That the Phoenicians have wandered more that we think it is possible, given their excellent naval expertise. And a relation between them and the Etruscans is also possible, as far as I can tell. The Colchester thing you mention is fascinating. I wish I had been there to see Hadrian’s Wall illuminated.

    Thank you for popping up here, Jennifer. I appreciate that!

    I am afraid I have erased some comment by lista opium! If you read this, lista, I do apologise.

    Update: I have restored your comment, lista.


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