Roman Military Camps at Nijmegen & Xanten

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by stolpi, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Definitely pre-war. The site of the Roman Camp at Nijmegen & Xanten.

    Roman Nijmegen 1.jpg

    Roman Nijmegen 2.jpg

    East Nijmegen.jpg

    Nijmegen at the time (1st Century a.D.) was on the northern edge of the Roman Empire (or Germania Inferior). To the north of it some small forts and watch towers guarded the Lower Rhine, beyond that was free Germania/Frisia. While Nijmegen harbored one Roman Legion, further up-stream near Xanten, two Legions were garrisoned at Vetera Castra I, located on the Fürstenberg hard east of Xanten (Xanten/Birten). The civil settlement, located at the Valkhof, became known as Oppidum Batavorum Noviomagus.

    Vetera Xanten.jpg

    Castra Vetera: the two legion Military Camp on the Fürstenberg at Xanten. It was besieged and destroyed during the so called Batavian Revolt in 69/70 AD, the year following the death of Emperor Nero or the so-called year of the four Emperors - which saw Vespasianus triumph. The demise of the Military Camp, that had only a small garrison after Vittelius left with the Roman Rhine Legions for Italy to have his bid on the emperorship, is explicitly described in The Histories of Tacitus. With the exception of the amphitheatre no other tangible traces exist of this important site at the border river of Germania Inferior.

    Vetera Xanten 2.jpg

    The theater of Castra Vetera at Birten still exists and in still use (!). It is used as an open air theater: Germany's oldest theater.

    Germany's oldest theater.jpg

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
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  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Stolpi, thanks for the info on Nijmegen in Roman times... I never managed to visit the archeological sites there. But I often visited the remains of the Roman city that was built under Traian near the military camps at Xanten. This was a major outpost of Roman civilization up in the north. Colonia Ulpia Traiana: horstcolonia2_800.jpg
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  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    What is called Xanten today has a long history as a starting point for military incursions into Germany.
    The camp for two legions and the Roman city nearby were positioned here on the Rhine, opposite the mouth of the Lippe river. The Lippe river was used by the Romans as a major gateway for military expeditions into Germany, i.e the areas east of the Rhine. In 1945, Montgomery thought his armies should follow the Roman example - so now we're back in the ww2talk area...
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Unlike Xanten the old roman settlement at Nijmegen has been completely overbuild by the modern city. Compared with Xanten there are few remains, but for the derelict pots and pans dug up over the past centuries. These are now in the Museum at the Valkhof. Roman Xanten on the other hand mercifully was spared. The medieval town of Xanten developed around the Roman graveyard to the east of the remains of the old Roman town. Roman Xanten is now slowly but methodically restored. It covers a huge area - the Pompeï of the North!

    Xanten AP.jpg
    Xanten Archeological Park

    Xanten Romertage.jpg
    Where you can meet real Legionnairs during the Roman Festival once a year ...

    Xanten Romertage Gladiator.jpg
    ... have some bread and watch the games!

    Archaeological Park
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Castellum at Meinerswijk Arnhem

    Holland in Roman times.jpg
    The Lower Germanic Limes; it recently has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The N and W of the country was an impossible bog; or as it was referred to "Holland, that undigested vomit of the sea”. Map colours: Green = peat swamps; Beige = higher sandy soils; Yellow = beach dunes; Grey = tidal area.

    North of Nijmegen (known as Oppidum Batavorum Noviomagnus), near what later would become Arnhem, lay a small fort that guarded the border near the confluence of the IJssel River and the Lower Rhine. It was known as Castra Herculis and is mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana (or Peutinger road map).

    The location of the fort is shown on the overlay below and was roughly between the John Frost Bridge and the Railway Bridge:

    Castellum Meinersweijk.jpg

    The castellum was a much smaller affair than the large Legionary Camps and was mainly occupied by a cohors (below an example of a castellum):


    After excavations of a castellum near Arnhem Meinerswijk, archaeologist concluded that this Roman fortress must have been Castra Herculis.

    castra hercula reconstructie.jpg
    Part of the Castellum has been reconstructed and can be visited.

    Locatie Castra Herculi.jpg

    See also: Castellum Meinerswijk -
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Map of Eastern-Holland in Roman Times:

    The Island Roman times.jpg

    Roman River and roads.jpg

    1 = Pleistocene grounds
    2 = Bowl soils and peat
    3 = pre-Roman river deposits
    4 = Roman River deposits
    5 = current river courses
    6 = boundaries of deposits
    7 = reconstructed boundaries of deposits
    8 = (military) settlement (37 - Kesteren; 18 - Randwijk; 105 - Elst; 117 - Castellum Driel; 126 - Castra Herculis/Meinerswijk, 194 - Castellum Loowaard, 182 - Carvium ad Molem/Herwen; 399 - Nijmegen Civis; 412 - Nijmegen - military camp)
    9 = possible Roman river course
    10 = possible Roman route
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
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  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    ... looks like the real estate prices were quite affordable back then....
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