News Article:

British Army Office May Rewrite German History

Detectorist locates ancient German-Roman battlefield

Fisher World Treasure News

A British army officer stationed in West Germany, has made an archaeological discovery which could re-write German history.

For more than 400 years the search has been on for the site of the battle of Teutoburger Wald, when the advance of the Romans was finally arrested curtailing their occupation of Germany.

The location of the 9 AD battlefield is generally accepted as being on the outskirts of Detmold. But, if experts confirm Captain Tony Clunn's find, the battle will have to be re-positioned some 50 miles further northwest near Osnabruck.

Archaeologists are cautious but quietly confident that Captain Clunn's painstaking research will result in one of the most important finds in German history.

Work has already begun on excavating the site, which Captain Clunn has been surveying for the last two years with sophisticated American metal detectors, (two Fisher 1265-X's and a Bemini-3) with the blessing of the German authorities.

This is not the first time the Detmold position of the battlefield has been challenged. Archaeologists have offered 750 alternative sites but never before has the evidence so strongly favored a new location.

Extensive desk research led Captain Clunn to the area but he pinpointed the actual site almost by accident. "I was very lucky," said the modest amateur archaeologist whose fascination with all things Roman began just six years ago when he was looking for a new hobby.

A month after arriving in Germany in 1987 to work at the British Military Hospital in Hannover, Captain Clunn began working on the site. All he expected to find in those days was the odd Roman coin and artifact.

Never in his wildest dreams could Captain Clunn have begun to imagine what he was about to stumble upon.

The story began to unfold shortly after he approached the Osnabruck Town Museum seeking the guidance of professional archaeologist, Dr. Wolfgang Schluter.

Dr. Schluter directed Captain Clunn to an area north of Osnabruck simply suggesting it was worth serious study.

Among the documents and old papers Captain Clunn consulted as part of his spare time research were a series of 19th century maps and a thesis by the 19th century archaeologist, Momsen.

Momsen believed the area Captain Clunn was beginning to study during the summer of 1987, was the probable site of the Teutoburger Wald battlefield.

Captain Clunn was to put Momsen's theory into practice. Using a 2,000 year old road, known as the Alte Heer Strasse, as a point of reference, Captain Clunn began surveying the area with his metal detector. By the end of the day he had found three Roman coins from the time of Augustus. And within a week over 100 more.

With Captain Clunn's guidance, the Osnabruck Museum began digging in September and in a ten-by-ten metre square found over 50 more coins and glass beads before the year was out.

The following summer three square kilometers of farmland were surveyed by Captain Clunn confirming once and for all the importance of the site.

Finds which came to light include a lead slingshot, a Roman breastplate and more bronze coins. It was these coins which served to convince the experts of the importance of the area.

Silver coins scattered apparently indiscriminately across the countryside indicate movement of troops. While the heavier bronze coins concentrated in one place suggest an encampment of some kind, because these coins were unlikely to be carried long distances.

Other finds included a bronze hook from the top of a stave, an earthen worked wall and, for the first time so far north, special coins minted for the Roman warrior, Varus - previously only found on the banks of the River Lippe, near Detmold.

An exploratory channel was dug two meters wide, two meters deep and 50 meters long, revealing a sample cross section of the field. It yielded minor artifacts including bronze pieces and coins.

Inspired, a second channel five meters wide, two meters deep and 100 meters long was cut. This revealed post holes similar to those found during Roman Excavations in the UK.

In January this year a Roman battle mask, worn by one in every 100 soldiers was unearthed - the most spectacular find to date. The area was now confirmed as a Roman settlement.

More of the special Varus coins were found: coins which can be dated back to the late summer of 9 AD.

Captain Clunn and the German experts are convinced the find is 'just the tip of the iceberg' They expect the dig will continue for another two years at least and plan to excavate not only the original field but woodland nearby.

The digging is being done by students and museum workers, while Captain Clunn continues to survey adjacent land with his metal detector.

In a year or so Captain Clunn is likely to be posted away from Germany. He admits this move will be a wrench, leaving the dig behind him. "It is an incredible find and I am very excited," he said.

His colleague at the museum, Dr. Schluter, says the work now being done on the outskirts of Osnabruck is by far the most important he has encountered in his archaeological career.

Artifacts discovered on the site are currently exhibited in the Osnabruck Museum of Archaeology and Culture.