The villa of Cruptorix

The villa or farm-house of Cruptorix is mentioned in the Annals of Tacitus, in book IV, chapter 73, when he describes the revolt of the Frisii in the year 28 A.D.

4.73.1. Quod ubi L. Apronio inferioris Germaniae pro praetore cognitum, vexilla legionum e superiore provincia peditumque et equitum auxiliarium delectos accivit ac simul utrumque exercitum Rheno devectum Frisiis intulit, soluto iam castelli obsidio et ad sua tutanda degressis rebellibus. Igitur proxima aestuaria aggeribus et pontibus traducendo graviori agmini firmat.

4.73.2. Atque interim repertis vadis alam Canninefatem et quod peditum Germanorum inter nostros merebat circumgredi terga hostium iubet, qui iam acie compositi pellunt turmas socialis equitesque legionum subsidio missos. Tum tres leves cohortes ac rursum duae, dein tempore interiecto alarius eques immissus: satis validi si simul incubuissent, per intervallum adventantes neque constantiam addiderant turbatis et pavore fugientium auferebantur.

4.73.3. Cethego Labeoni legato quintae legionis quod reliquum auxiliorum tradit. Atque ille dubia suorum re in anceps tractus missis nuntiis vim legionum implorabat. Prorumpunt quintani ante alios et acri pugna hoste pulso recipiunt cohortis alasque fessas vulneribus. Neque dux Romanus ultum iit aut corpora humavit, quamquam multi tribunorum praefectorumque et insignes centuriones cecidissent.

4.73.4. Mox compertum a transfugis nongentos Romanorum apud lucum quem Baduhennae vocant pugna in posterum extracta confectos, et aliam quadringentorum manum occupata Cruptorigis quondam stipendiari villa, postquam proditio metuebatur, mutuis ictibus procubuisse.

The translation of these chapters goes as follows.

4.73.1. As soon as this was known to Lucius Apronius, propraetor of Lower Germany, he summoned from the Upper province the legionary veterans, as well as some picked auxiliary infantry and cavalry. Instantly conveying both armies down the Rhine, he threw them on the Frisii, raising at once the siege of the fortress and dispersing the rebels in defence of their own possessions. Next, he began constructing solid roads and bridges over the neighbouring estuaries for the passage of his heavy troops,

4.73.2. and meanwhile having found a ford, he ordered the cavalry of the Canninefates, with all the German infantry which served with us, to take the enemy in the rear. Already in battle array, they were beating back our auxiliary horse as well as that of the legions sent to support them, when three light cohorts, then two more, and after a while the entire cavalry were sent to the attack. They were strong enough, had they charged altogether, but coming up, as they did, at intervals, they did not give fresh courage to the repulsed troops and were themselves carried away in the panic of the fugitives.

4.73.3. Apronius entrusted the rest of the auxiliaries to Cethegus Labeo, the commander of the fifth legion, but he too, finding his men's position critical and being in extreme peril, sent messages imploring the whole strength of the legions. The soldiers of the fifth sprang forward, drove back the enemy in a fierce encounter, and saved our cohorts and cavalry, who were exhausted by their wounds. But the Roman general did not attempt vengeance or even bury the dead, although many tribunes, prefects, and first-rank centurions had fallen.

4.73.4. Soon afterwards it was ascertained from deserters that nine hundred Romans had been cut to pieces in a wood called Braduhenna's, after prolonging the fight to the next day, and that another body of four hundred, which had taken possession of the house of one Cruptorix, once a soldier in our pay, fearing betrayal, had perished by mutual slaughter.

Of course there has been a lot of speculation ever since about the exact locations of the Baduhenna Wood and the Villa of Cruptorix. Many authors have claimed to know - mostly by name deduction - where these historic sites might have been located. So does Henk Booy in his book 'Van Cruptorix tot Kropswolde, 2000 jaar geschiedenis van een dorp, zijn bewoners en de kerk' ('From Cruptorix to Kropswolde, 2000 years history of a village, its inhabitants and the church'). Anyhow it was this book that gave the name to the web site: while I'm writing this, I have a splendid view over the village of Kropswolde.....