Text, photo and graphic: Heinz Birkenheuer

2. Military

2. 2 The Cavalry Barracks

The auxiliary cavalry units were encamped together with horses and servants in the front part of the camp, so called PRAETENTURA, and were separated from the Roman Legionary cavalry. The cavalry's horses were placed within the camp in order to enable fast action. Accommodation for the auxiliary cavalry troops was significantly different from the lodgings belonging to the Roman infantry. The allocated areas for accommodation of the auxiliary forces used to be smaller and had no covered walkways in front, but a wide access way for rearming of the horses instead. The minor streets of the camp opened on both sides to enable fast and unrestrained departure. Accommodation of the squadron leaders was located on the Northern side of the cavalry barracks respectively.

Model and photo: Heinz Birkenheuer

View from above onto one part of the cavalry and infantry barracks

The cavalry barrack blocks were attached on their reverse side. The block depth of only 9 m did not allow daylight illumination in the back part of the rooms. There used to be only 27 m2 of space for 8 horsemen and 8 servants including their extensive equipment. The unbelievable narrowness and darkness in the blocks forced the men to use the full height of the building.

Horse-man in a Roman legion

Drawing: John Warry

Cross-section through a cavalry barrack in the Novesium Military Camp.

Graphic: Heinz Birkenheuer

The walls consisted of framework filled with fired bricks in order to increase durability and firmness of the construction. Surface water coming from the block roofs ( rain fall run-off) was drained off into the minor streets by connecting channels in the shape of cascades. In the upper stair of the lodge the horsemen got enough daylight and fresh air, the stone walled ground floor provided enough space for their horses. We can assume that the horses were integrated within the lodging area, and we know that the Roman legionary horsemen used to live in company with their servants and horses in a so- called TABERNAE.

Multiple manure pits and non- regularly shaped campsites were detected on three locations next to the gateways; we can conclude that there had been horse shelters in the past. However these three shelters did not provide enough space for all of the cavalry horses. That means that the remaining horses must have been located somewhere within the 18 cavalry barracks.