The Ambush That Changed History

An amateur archaeologist discovers the field where wily Germanic warriors halted the spread of the Roman Empire

Between 6 B.C. and A.D. 4, Roman legions established bases on the Lippe and Weser rivers. (Mike Reagan)
Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

(Continued from page 4)

Clunn, now 59, still works, as a staff officer, for the British military in Osnabrück. One recent afternoon, amid intermittent cloudbursts, he and I drove east from Kalkriese along the route that Varus’ army most likely followed on the last day of its harrowing march. We stopped at a low hill on the outskirts of the village of Schwagstorf. From the car, I could barely detect the rise in the ground, but Clunn assured me that this was the highest s ot in the vicinity. “It’s the only place that offers any natural defense,” he said. Here, he has found the same types of coins and artifacts that have been unearthed at Kalkriese; he hopes that future excavationswill determine that the battered Roman forces attempted to regroup here shortly before they met their doom. As we stood at the edge of a traffic circle and gazed across a cornfield, he added: “I’m convinced that this is the site of Varus’ last camp.”


Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus