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Deutsche Limeskommission

Deutsche Limeskommission

18. Arnsburg fort site

Lich City, Muschenheim Borough, Landkreis Giessen

Lich City, Muschenheim Borough, Landkreis Giessen. Site of the fort Arnsburg. View from west. Picture down - View from the VICUS to the fort site.

The stone fort, of an area of 3.0 ha (185 m x 161 m) had a rectangular ground plan, four gates, intermediate towers and was surrounded by a ditch. It is thought that the Cohors V Dalmatarum was stationed here. Of the internal buildings, we know the principia and a large building, probably the praetorium. A first fort with a defence wall of timber and earth may already have been erected at this location by the later 1st century AD. Aerial photographs suggest a still older, small rectangular fort with a defence wall of timber and earth, which was surrounded by a ditch. Stray finds go back to the time long before the erection of the Limes. These possibly indicate a military camp from the time of the Germanic wars under the emperors Augustus and Tiberius (12 BC – 16 AD). The ditches of two large military camps around 400 m north of the fort were documented by aerial photographs. In all probability, they belong to the time before the Limes.

The camp village extends to the west, east and south. The core of the settlement developed on both sides of the road to the south, which led to the heart of the Wetterau. There were baths here, then the houses of the camp village start on both sides of the road. These were adjoined by a large burial ground. Further baths to the east, in front of the porta praetoria, were discovered by aerial photography. The remains of another large stone building are also situated here, which perhaps served as accommodation for visitors. Only a little to the north of the fort, aerial photographs show a building complex which, on the basis of its characteristic ground plan, can be considered to be an estate.

A Benedictine monastery was founded on the site of the fort in 1151. It only lasted a few years. Building of the church had begun, but it was never completed.

Our knowledge of the fort location has only been substantially increased by the aerial photography of recent years. The only excavation was carried out by the Reichs-Limeskommission in 1893. Parts of the north wall were subsequently preserved, and fenced in in a meadow area. A small archaeological park was created here. The historian of antiquity, Theodor Mommsen visited Arnsburg in 1893, and considered these remains to be among the finest and best preserved of all forts which had been excavated in Germany up to that time.

The fort and the camp village lie in fields and meadows. Only a small family cemetery is to be found on the site of the fort itself. A lime tree, surrounded by a large pile of collected stones, between the porta praetoria and the principia forms a landmark visible from far away.

In front of the fort, parts of the defence wall can still be recognised. On the south and west sides, embankments in the fields mark its course. Of walls, the remains of the eastern tower of the north gate, the adjoining surrounding wall and the north-west corner are still to be seen, in a meadow. No signs of the camp village are still visible. Only the Roman road which led from the south gate towards Friedberg still survives today, as a field path.


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