The history of the Saalburg is connected with
that of the Limes The line which formed the northern boundary
of the Roman Empire. and is still to be seen some 220 m beyond
the fort. The first defences were built during the course of
war waged by the Roman Emperor Domitian against the Chatti, a
Germanic tribe in the north of Hessen, in A.D. 83—85. These
consisted of a boundary track and a series of wooden towers,
almost on the crest of the mountains. On the Saalburg the earthworks
on the east of the later fort were built. A few years later the
small timber fortlet with surrounding ditch was built.
Under the Roman Emperor Hadrian (A. D. 117—138)
some years later a continuous wooden palisade was constructed
on the Limes. At the same time a large fort was built, defended
by a composite wall of timber and stone on the Saalburg. This
fort (221 by 147 m) held a larger unit, called a cohort and from
Hadrians time the garnison was the second cohort of Raetians
(cohurs II Raetorurn civium Romanorurn) consisting of about 500
men from the Roman province of Raetia on the upper Danube.
Probably in the later second century A. D.,
massive interior buildings and a enclosure wall of masonry were
erected here. The reconstruction mainly follows the work of this
period. On the Limes. about the same time. a ditch and a rampart
were constructed behind the wooden palisade.
The Limes and the Saalburg were abandoned about
A. D. 260 when the country up to the Rhine was occupied by Germanic
tribes. Then the fort fell into ruins and in the Middle Ages
and later it served the peasants of the neighbourhood as a convenient
quarry. In the 18th century the Saalburg once more attracted
attention and extensive archaeological excavations started in
the middle of the l9th century.