IRENE's TRAVELOGUE

JUNE/JULY 1999

TRACING ROMAN GERMANIA I

The Trip
Bad Ems
Bad Kreuznach
Köln/Cologne
Mainz
Saalburg
Trier
Xanten
Abtei St. Hildegard  Lennep  Remagen/Linz

MORE TRAVEL
Tracing Roman Germania 2002
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001

Section of fort, click here for more

photos
including 2002 photos

THE SAALBURG — ROMAN FORT (near Bad Homburg) 1999

My first venture into Roman Germania was not too auspicious! For one, I did not realize that there was no direct public transportation from Wiesbaden to Bad Homburg and the Saalburg. So I got up leisurely, dawdled over breakfast and finally took myself to the railroad station, only to find that I had to go into Frankfurt first and change trains there. This all took a while, and when I arrived in Bad Homburg, and looked for a bus, I learned that on Saturdays, the bus goes only every two hours, and that it just had left! So I had to take a cab, not cheap either… Chances to get a cab back seemed slim, so I depended on the bus schedule again, and all this meant that I had much less time for visiting the Saalburg than planned. So, if you plan to go there from Frankfurt, it's best to rent a car.

Denarius of Domitian, click here for article
courtesy Doug Smith
Domitian Denarius
Well, anyway…The Saalburg is a reconstructed Roman castellum at the Limes. There were two consecutive camps, the first one a timber fortlet founded under Domitian. Under Hadrian, a stone fort was built, large enough to hold an entire cohort. Outside, there was the usual vicus. As everywhere, the fort served as a convenient quarry for later generations, until the place attracted attention again in the 18th century. Extensive archaeological excavations began in the middle of the 19th century under L. and H. Jacobi. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Kaiser, arranged for reconstruction in 1897, apparently an unusual undertaking at the time regarding a Roman military structure.

Addendum for German speakers: The paper "Inst.Koeln - Saalburg: Erfassung und Erschließung des Saalburg-Archives" has disappeared, but this search show other papers.

Before you enter, on your right, leaning against a tree, is a large slab of slate – the prevailing stone of the Middle Rhein region – with a plan of the castellum drawn on it. Then one walks through the Main Gate. The walls and the gates have been reconstructed on top of the Roman foundations, and some samples have been left to demonstrate the old structure. Streets have been laid out as they would have been, and several buildings, such as the principia and the horreum (granary), have been reconstructed, after careful review of known structures. Other buildings are indicated by their foundations. Two wooden barracks have been built and baking ovens reconstructed, with demonstrations of bread baking. See my photos.

The principia and the horreum are used as museum, and the former also is the site of demonstrations by history buffs, such as the legionary in my picture showing off his gear.

The horreum is an excellent little museum, with artifacts – weapons, surgical instruments, coins, lamps, writing utensils – from the camp and other Taunus area sites, and reproductions of various types of items. Look at the sagum – McCullough readers: remember Marius? During the excavations, 99 former wells were found, and the muddy ground served as excellent preservation of leather and wood articles, some of which are on display.

Vicus foundations outside the camp, including a largish bath house, have been preserved too, and somewhere there are the remains of a mithreum and two other temples, but unfortunately I did not get there.

There are also some extra earthen works which may have been built as protection against the Chatti.

From what I have read, there are also nearby stretches of the Limes which have been well preserved. So it seems that I need to go back some other time, and by car…well, on to Mainz

2002 Addendum: I did go back, but still not by car…

© Irene B. Hahn 1999

arrow Questions? Please e-mail me at irenesbooks@optonline.net


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