Military Life Along the Limes

Between the later 1st and the 3rd century AD the Upper German-Raetian Limes was the outer frontier line of the Roman Empire in Central Europe. At that time the history of the world was made here. Moreover the Limes represented the cultural distinction between the “classical” and the “barbaric” world in the antiquity. It also symbolized the cultural division in Central Europe even after its decline, until the Middle Ages and the Modern Age. To this day many cultural and administrative boundaries can be traced back to it!

 

 [map]

– Limes’ course

– Well recognizable Limes’ course

– You are here

– Bavarian Limes Information Centre (Weißenburg)

– Rebuilt watchtower’s original foundation walls

– Rebuilt watchtower

– Foundation remains of a stone watchtower (*Watch Post Wp. 14/50 – well preserved ditch of a wooden tower)

 

The Limes and Its Origins

In AD 15 the Romans conquered large territories north of the Alps, which were bounded by the Danube and united in the province called Raetia. Towards the later 1st century the Romans penetrated into the land north of the Danube. After several displacements of the border, the actual Limes was established: it was a line of defence and control protected by watchtowers and under constant expansion.

 

The Limes – An Impassable Border?

The Limes was not intended to be an impassable barrier. It had rather the purpose to control both trade and movement in and out of the Roman territory and also to clearly state the claim to power of the Roman Empire. Moreover the increasing threat of the Germans made it necessary to control the northern border more strictly in order not to be surprised and attacked. Even in the late times the Limes’ wall was too easily surmountable and could not act as an actual defensive installation.

 

Decline of the Limes and End of the Roman Control in Bavaria

In AD 233 and AD 260 assaults of the Germans laid waste to the Limes and led to the devastation of most of the Raetian province. Thus the Romans drew back over the Danube that became once again the Roman northern frontier line. During the early 5th century the last Roman units withdrew over the Alps and South Bavaria was crossed by many German tribes. The cohesive Roman government collapsed. Nevertheless Roman inhabitants lived in single settlements along the Danube until AD 477-478.

 

– Rebuilt Limes’ wall

– Rebuilt foundations: Burgus at Burgsalach