back to main page

The legionary fortress at Neuss 43 - 105 A. D.

Reconstruction of the second stone - phase

Heinz Birkenheuer

Roman Centurio *4 )

1.1 History

The rests of fundaments - excavated by Constantin Koenen - of a nearly complete Roman legionary fortress at the mouth of the river Erft are one of the oldest evidences of the history of Neuss . Almost 2000 years ago there was a town-like grouping in the region of today's Neuss, and in the centre thereof was a Roman legionary fortress built of stone. One can assume that in those days about 9000 human beings lived in the legionary fortress 1*)at the mouth of the river Erft with about 1200 in the suburb of the fortress and on the surrounding farms. This massive settlement had political reasons. For Novaesium was one of six Roman locations *2) that were temporarily responsible for Roman presence, for the security and administration of the "German Limes".

The stone built fortress at Neuss was the outstanding one of altogether 8 Roman camps at the mouth of the river Erft. It existed from 43 to 103 A D. In 43 A. D. it was built by the XVI. Roman legion, and newly re-erected by the VI. Roman legion in 70 A. D. Up to now four different methods of constructions were discovered, namely in two building phases from 43 to 69 A. D. and two other ones from 70 to 103 A. D. The last construction of the fortress was done by the VI. LEGION VICTRIX in the time from 80 to 85 A. D. At about 97/98 A D. the fortress at Neuss wasn't needed any more. From now on the Roman interests at the "lower Rhine" were supposed to be taken over by the Roman town-colonies - COLONIA CLAUDIA ARA AGRIPPINESIS - CCAA (Köln) and the newly to be established COLONIA ULPIA TRAIANA - CUT (Xanten).

The last Roman legion, stationed in Neuss, was moved step by step to Xanten, to help there with building the new colonia. One can assume that a staying rest of the VI. legion began - between 98 and 99 A. D - *3) to break down and level off the legionary fortress, to make further military use impossible.

*1 ) Heinrich Nissen, Die Geschichte von Novaesium - Bonner Jahrbuch 111/112 / S.56

*2 ) Karl Strobel, Struktur des untergermanischen Heeres in der trajanischen Zeit / S.449
*3 ) Karl Strobel, Struktur des untergermanischen Heeres in der trajanischen Zeit / S. 446/447
*4 ) Legionär und Centurio von John Warry, Kriegskunst der Griechen und Römer / S. 173