ORL Day Five: Bad Ems to Kleinkastell Pohl

We begin Strecke 2. The Kleinkastell ‘Auf der Schanze’ lay next to the main station in Bad Ems, just south of the River Lahn. Using the station underpass, we begin our treck up to WT 2/1, way above us on the hillside. The route begins on the streets but soon weaves its way onto woodland paths, finally delivering us next to the first reconstructed tower on the LImes, built in honour of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Short and squat (it, not him), it is the antithesis of modern reconstructions of Limes towers, but the view from its base is enchanting enough to make minor carping over details seem irrelevant.

WT 2/1

We trot along a ridge for a while before some more climbing becomes necessary, ultimately leading us to a good stretch of bank and ditch, a short length of reconstructed palisade, and a sign (literally) that the Germans do have a wry sense of humour.

A German joke

Soon, roadside watchtowers (WT 2/5, 2/6, 2/7, and 2/8) start appearing next to the track we are using, and then a fortlet (KK Becheln) before we reach The Grey Stone, a boundary marker on the Limes nicked in the early 20th century and only returned a century later.

By now, showers have begun and lunch is had under a tree next to the village of Schweighausen, before rejoining our journey and being treated to a crop mark indicating the line of the Limes ditch as it runs across a field of just-ripe barley. Much dodging in and out of woodland, the occasional flirtation with a village, and finally a mobile section of mini-Limes, bring us to just south of Dornholzhausen.

Mobile Limes

On, down a considerable straight length of frontier, past some chainsaw art (a German warrior on one side, a centurion on the other), before we cross (down one side, up the other) the valley of the Mühlbach and burst into the village of Berg, only to find it near-deserted.

Wall ornament in Berg

Leaving it in the rain (again), we briefly inspect the Gemüse- und Obstlehrpfad (examples of Roman plants), before trogging on, past the site of its fort, to Hunzel. In the village, we pass a huge mural on the side of a building of Roman rural life, and then we leave the village and start across the fields again. Ultimately, we reach the edge of yet more woodland, where the frontier is once again tangible. We stalk it amongst the trees and finally emerge, blinking, on the far side, to be greeted by the welcome sight of the reconstructed Kleinkastell Pohl. We cannot walk directly to it, but must negotiate the outskirts of Pohl (including Ernst-Fabricius-Strasse) before we are finally welcomed inside by a Roman legionary, Thomas, who is to be our guide.

Kleinkastell Pohl reconstructed

A thorough inspection of the contubernium, museum display (with handling of reconstructed items), hall, and adjacent watchtower, is followed by a Roman-style meal in their small cafe. We are not the only ones there, as local school children are performing a concert in the hall. KK Pohl has an important local, social role to play, as well as entertaining passing tourists like us. The big surprise was that some of the stones from the Mittelrheinisches Landesmuseum were on display in the hall, including one rather famous Roman soldier. All in all, a packed, tiring, but enjoyable day.