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Deutsche Limeskommission

Deutsche Limeskommission

34. Osterburken Fort

Osterburken City, Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis

Osterburken City, Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis. Town center. Site of the former two forts and the central part of the VICUS. View from north. Picture down - Preserved walls and ditches of the annex-fort.

Garrison of the Cohors III Aquitanorum, on the southern fringe and slope of the valley. According to dendro-chronological dates, it existed from the early 60’s of the second century. Already known since the 18th century – the first mention is by Ernst Christian Hansselmann. Initial explorations were made by the priest Wilhelmi from Sinsheim in 1838, while more extensive investigations were carried out by the Mannheim Historical Association in 1867. The Reichs-Limeskommission then conducted the first systematic investigations, which give us an analysis of the sizes of the two forts. Until the 1960’s only minor observations were made in Roman Osterburken, after which larger excavations in the 70’s led, among other things, to the discovery of two baths houses (1973 and 1976) and an extensively preserved sacred district (1982 – 1984).

Cohors fort

The extent of this installation is well known as a result of the researches of the Reichs-Limeskommission and various site observations. The fort has external dimensions of 186 x 115 m, thus covering an area of 2.14 ha. There are no indications of an earlier installation of timber and earth preceding the fort, which is secured with a stone defence and a 7 m wide ditch. The positions of all four gates in the middle of the sides and towers in the corners and on the long sides are known, while of the internal buildings only small parts of the principia and a few masonry remains of a storage building (?) have been demonstrated. The remaining buildings seem to have been constructed in timber.

Annex fort

An approximately trapezoidal extension building, with an area of c. 1.35 ha (86 x 143 x 99 m), was erected on the south-east long side of the cohors fort towards the end of the 2nd century, on the steep slope of the Kirnau valley The masonry wall of this fort was provided with three gates, one on each side, and towers and protective platforms at the corners and in the intermediate areas. No remains at all of the internal buildings are thus far known.

The area of the archaeological monument lies in the western part of the city of Osterburken. The greater part of the cohors fort was built over with detached houses in the middle of the 20th century, which largely destroyed all archaeological remains without observations being made.  In contrast, the surrounding wall of the annex fort was preserved after the work of the Reichs-Limeskommission, and the area arranged as a park, which is today in the ownership of the State. The civilian settlement lies principally to the north-east of the fort below the mediaeval city and uncongested modern construction. Parts, including a larger burial ground, are however probably to be found on the other side of the Kirnau.


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