What is Saalburg?

The Saalburg, a Roman fort, is a reconstruction on the old Roman site in the present. The Saalburg was erected between 1898 and 1907. It was copied as nearly as possible to the original. This is due to the study of preserved examples of Roman forts in other countries of Europe. The study of Roman authors such as Caesar, Tacitus, Vitruvius and Vegetius helped too.Funds for this purpose were supplied by the German goverment and from American and other sources.




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.





The Saalburg contains an interesting Museum. The exhibition in the horreum contains an extensive collection of tools and objects excavated at the Saalburg and at adjacent Roman forts in the Taunus forests. The finds are placed in the show-cases classified according to trades. Here we must not forget that only a glimpse into the conditions of a frontier fort can be given to us. Many perishable ancient objects as for instance food, textiles or furniture usually are not preserved in our climate. Especially important for the history of the fort at the Saalburg are the stamped bricks and tiles from military kilns, and the decorated vessels made of fine red clay (Samian ware), which are partly classified by potteries and potters. A notable group of objects are the leather articles, particularly the shoes, which have been preserved in deep wells. Other interesting finds are the weapons, surgical instruments, coins, lamps and writing utensils. Before leaving the museum-room we have a look at the model of the Roman fort. Other models show the situation of the Saalburg in the landscape during the Roman period or give a sectional view of a Roman bath-house. A show-case at the wall near the exit illustrates the structure of the Roman Empire and the organization of the Roman Army.


Further Informations

Here you get very good informations about the Saalburg in Englisch: