Military Life Along the Limes

Castells

Castells were barracks of the Roman army and were conceived neither as fortresses nor to withstand a siege.

Castells were situated in strategically crucial positions behind the Limes and were manned by infantry and cavalry. Therefore troops could intervene quickly in case of attack on the frontier line.

 

 

Castells in the Altmühltal Nature Park

Small outpost castells accommodating 50-100 men as well as castells both for cavalry units and cohorts for circa 500 men existed in the Altmühltal Nature Park.

– Guard at the porta praetoria of the Roman castell at Pfünz

– Model of the castell at Pfünz by AD 200 (Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte – Willibaldsburg, Eichstätt)

 

 

In the Romans’ Footsteps in the Altmühltal Nature Park

1) Castell Mediana at Gnotzheim

The dimensions of the ancient castell west of Gnotzheim are recognizable thanks to tracks and field boundaries. Its building inscription dated AD 144 still exists and is embedded in the southern wall of the local church.

 

2)  Small Castell at Gunzenhausen

Today the former commanders’ headquarters of the castell lie under the local evangelical church St. Marien. It is remembered in the town by memorial plaques and by the ground plan marking on the square west of the church.

 

3)  Castell Icianiacum at Theilenhofen

The stone castell is located north of Theilenhofen. Its extension was made visible by means of plants and tracks. Interesting well re-built bath foundation walls are to be seen at a distance of 820,21 ft (250 m).

 

4)  Small Castell Sablonetum at Ellingen

The castell north-east of Ellingen was a small post for Roman troops. Its reconstructed western tower and its northern wall can be visited. Didactic boards on the spot inform of the castell’s history.

 

5)  Castell Biriciana at Weißenburg

The castell Biriciana was the most important installation between Kipfenberg and Gunzenhausen. 500 cavalrymen were stationed here. Today some parts of the almost square installation are visible, e.g. foundation walls and reconstructions of the northern storage place and of stretches of the northern wall.

 

6)  Burgus at Burgsalach

This small castell, whose form and extension remember North African models, is really unique and has no equal in Germany. The wall’s reconstruction makes the building’s ground plan clearly visible. Boards on the spot explain the origin of this small castell.

 

7)  Castell at Nassenfels

The current streets of Nassenfels follow the location of the former castell, now entirely overbuilt. Finds from the castell can be viewed in the Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte in the castle Willibaldsburg at Eichstätt.

 

8)  Castell Vetoniana at Pfünz

This castell, which stands on the mount Kirchberg above Pfünz and was partly re-built, has accommodated a cohors equitata made up of circa 500 men (380 infantrymen and about 120 cavalrymen). It is possible to explore the faithful reproduction of the northern tower, which now hosts a guardroom, a corner tower and its connecting wall. The well preserved ramparts and the ditches on the western facade are unique in all of Bavaria.

 

8) Reconstructed CASTRA VETONIANA

When the Roman control on the region ended because of the Alemanni’s attacks, the destroyed castells definitively decayed. Their stones were precious building material just like those of the Limes. However clear traces are still visible in many places. Some castell sections have been re-built in order to convey visitors a precise image.

 

9)  Small Castell at Böhming

The former commanders’ headquarters of the small castell were overbuilt by the church of Böhming. A flat earthwork in the surrounding fields shows the course of the former fortified wall. The visible traces are explained by a board on the spot.

 

10)    Castell Germanicum at Kösching

Its remains were overbuilt by today’s village and are no more visible. The local church stands midst of ancient commanders’ headquarters (principia). Finds are to be viewed in the city museum Stadtmuseum Ingolstadt and in the archaeological and ethnographical museum Museum für Archäologie und Volkskunde at Kösching.

 

10) Overbuilt Castell GERMANICUM (Kösching)

Some castells literally disappeared as they were overbuilt by new settlements shortly after their destruction. Only small memorial stones are frequently still to be found on the spot.

 

11)    Castell Celeusum at Pförring

The former extension of this cavalry castell is clearly visible as a raised platform in the ground. The inscription of the castell’s porta decumana and two other stones are to be seen at the local church, which is a worth seeing Romanesque building.

 

12)    Castell Abusina at Eining

The castell Abusina is about 2,49 mi (4 km) away from the Limes end at Hienheim, located in a raised position on the opposite bank over the Danube. The castell at Eining is an impressive, well preserved defensive Roman installation that has no equal in Bavaria also thanks to its entirely excavated walls. The visible stretches of partly re-built foundation walls belong to different building phases.

 

9) Castell at Böhming

 

 [map]

– Limes’ course

– You are here

– Bavarian Limes Information Centre (Weißenburg)

 

 

Besides wall remains, traces of former castells are frequently to be determined only from the air. Air photo archaeology was started in the early Seventies and supplied a wealth of new information. As a matter of fact the former course of the walls is often determinable as earthworks.