Information board at Roman Fort

Roman Colonisation and the late-antique Boppard fort

 

Mighty walls and towers of a Roman fort characterise the town centre of Boppard. They are considered the best preserved late-Roman fortification walls in Germany. Despite severe damage caused by the building of a railway line in 1895, the fort walls still stand at a height of up to nine metres.

Photo 1 Traces of a Roman settlement at a location suitable for transportation on the banks of the Middle Rhine between the Taunus and the Hunsrück have been evident in Mühlbachtal since as early as the first century AD. The conditions here were excellent for a trading centre for heavy goods from the nearby Hunsrück and for transport between land and waterways.

Photo 2 Historical sources from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, such as the Tabula Peutingeriana, a mediaeval transcript of an antique map, mention the settlement as Bouboriga or Bontobrice. The name can probably be traced back to a pre-Roman Celtic settlement in the Rhine Valley called Boudobriga. The Celtic settlement may well have consisted of scattered farmsteads.

Photo 3 The finds excavated from the Roman village, the so-called vicus, point to a pronounced period of prosperity for the village in the 1st-3rd centuries AD. Since there were no finds in the area of the unprotected Roman settlement from the 4th-5th centuries, it can be assumed that the later settlement can be found within the protection of the fort, which is located approximately 1km away.


Photo 4 The Middle Rhine region was under Roman control for more than 400 years, starting when Caesar’s troops arrived at the Rhine in around 50 BC. The limes, a frontier wall on the right bank of the Rhine, protected the Roman province on the Rhine and Moselle at around the end of the 1st century AD. The military conflict with the Germanic tribes determined the fates of the frontier Roman provinces from the 3rd century onwards.

Photo 5 In around 260 AD, the limes had to be abandoned and the frontier moved back to the Rhine. Under Emperor Julius, Boppard was also equipped in the 4th century as a trade centre and military base with a strong system of fortifications.

Photo 6 The late-Roman fort of Boudobriga lies directly on the banks of the Rhine in an area safe from flooding.


Photo 7 The fortifications comprised of a long, 308 x 154 m rectangle of walls and 28 semi-circular towers.

Photo 8 The inner area had large, double-span timber-frame constructions, which probably served as accommodation for the fort’s garrison.

Photo 9 Around the middle of the 4th century, a 50m long military bathhouse was built in the fort along the inside of the northern fortification wall. Use of the bathhouse continued into the 5th century until the end of the Roman administration at the Middle Rhine. At that time, the Alemanni and the Franks forced the complete withdrawal of the Romans.

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