© Landkreis Göttingen

 Hedemünden Roman Camp

First finds already in 1855

On a wooded plateau above a steep slope sloping down to the Werra (65 to 90 m above the Werra), in a strategically prominent position at the old ford of the Werra, where the north-south traffic of the ancient long-distance road network crossed the navigable river, lies a circular rampart knew as the "Hünenburg".

As early as 1855, Roman coins were found not far from this site (between Hedemünden and Ellerode). Following reports and the dragging of finds (1985 and 1998), intensive site inspections were carried out on the Burgberg from 1998 onwards with a series of test excavations by the Göttingen District Archaeology Department. These led to the discovery of the first Roman camp found in Lower Saxony.

On the one hand, there are well-preserved remains of the site with ramparts and ditches, terraces and stones, and on the other hand, there is a series of metal finds (coins, militaria, military equipment, the building remains) and broken pottery (Roman and local). Shape and size indicate a multi-element structure.

Two camps of different shape and size, plus presumably other camp areas:

Camp I

Well-preserved fortification above ground consisting of rampart and ditch, ground plan elongated oval, oriented NNO-SSW, length outside 320 m, width maximum 150 m, interior area 3.215 hectares.

The outer ground plan shows two long and parallel west and east flanks, a semi-circular curved north flank and a south flank set off by bastion-like bends. The total length of the rampart/ditch 760 m, the course is damaged in the north by older road construction, otherwise, there is only a forest road cut and several minor damages to the rampart.

Gates are recognisable in the centre of the southern flank as well as in the centre of each of the western and eastern flanks, another gate is located in the southeast; a northern gate remains questionable - due to the path construction damage - and is to be checked.

Flatly undulating interior, sloping from north to south by about 15 m, along the central axis, a ridge of sandstone rubble rises slightly, interspersed with quarry pits and funnels (probably medieval to early modern quarrying). Throughout the interior, there is evidence of anthropogenic settlement of large unworked sandstones, partly reconstructable as rectangular ground plan configurations and point foundations for 'floating' timber structures of former storage store buildings. After magnetometer prospection, there are indications of underground pit structures (cellars, cisterns, cesspools ?). These geophysical investigations in connection with find concentrations show a central building in the northern part of the camp.

Until November 2005, the complete surface prospection with the metal detector was carried out continuously, i.e. a fine-mapping with individual measurements and recovery of all metal objects in the near-surface soil layer 0 - 0.25 m depth (forest humus and bioturbation-disturbed upper sand-loess-stone debris cover).

From October 2003 to November 2005, several profile cuts were made through the rampart and ditch. Also, several surface exposures in the interior. The profile sections have shown: the rampart is randomly built up of sandy loess with large individual stone blocks, base width today 5 - 6 m, height still 0.8 - 1.2 m; on the outside runs a - largely filled - pointed ditch without a berm, upper width 3.5 - 4 m, depth 1 - 1.2 m. The ditch was probably reconstructed as a wood-loess ditch. Probably reconstructed as a timber-earth wall with a rampart embankment on the inside, with stone reinforcement of a former wooden weir on top. Total height from the base of the ditch to the top of the rampart about 3.5 - 4.5 m.

In profile section 12 (through the eastern flank), the old surface from the construction period is preserved as a fossil A horizon, on which the following finds were found: 1 iron pioneer axe (dolabra), pottery fragments of local make and Roman wheel ware (yellow- to red-toned, smoothed, thin-walled), charcoal.

In the northeast section, a second iron pioneer's axe (dolabra) was recovered under the rampart core, a third in the southern rampart; a fourth dolabra was found in the rampart core in the north section during road construction as early as 1883. An iron shovel hoe was also found at the base of the rampart.



Camp II

Directly to the south of Camp I, is an area of 1.3 hectares of interior space. With its almost rectangular ground plan, it reaches up to the steep slope to the Werra. The rampart-pit lines of the fortification are still preserved flat on the forest floor. The intensive fire remains found during excavations prove that the fortifications consisted of timber-earth walls with pointed ditches in front. The rampart fill consists of random sand, loess and stone blocks. Its present base width is about 3 m and is preserved up to a height of 40 cm. The pointed ditch, which today is filled with, among other things, bricked clay and charcoal, has an upper width of about 3 m and a depth of about 0.6 - 1 m (C14 analysis: Early Imperial-Augustan age). Finds in this area: An iron, decorated pioneer axe (dolabra), two iron hammer axes and iron nails. Only a few iron finds were found in the interior: spout lance points, tent pegs, building fittings, other objects.

© Landkreis Göttingen

Parking possibility

Drusus-Ring, corner Am Rischenbach, approx. 10 -15 minutes walk to the Roman camp


The rampart and the ditch, which are easily recognisable under a forest cover, are freely accessible to visitors and are explained by information boards.

Camp III

In the western foreground of Camp I, there is a conspicuous concentration of Roman metal objects immediately adjacent. The area measures approx. 150 m x 150 m. For the time being, a wall and ditch fortification is not recognisable above ground.
Finds from this area include a silver coin of the Roman Republic, a copper coin of Augustus (?), a long pilum rod, a pilum clamp, sandal nails and two catapult bolts as well as various building fittings:


Camp IV (presumed)

On the eastern slope of the Burgberg (adjacent to camps I and II to the east), anthropogenic fills/terraces make another camp likely. This terrain plateau covers an area of approx. 12 - 15 hectares. The southern flank shows a straight course with rounded right-angled corners to the eastern and western flanks, from the eastern flank shallow remains of ramparts and aerial structures in the field are recognisable.

The area includes an old - now buried - spring, and the main access route from the nearby Werra ford to camps I - III passes through here. Aerial photo findings and above-ground structures in the over buried area still have to be verified. Only test excavations in this area will provide information and certainty as to whether it can be addressed as Camp IV. An Iron Age pottery find scatter (Hedemünden FStNr. 21) is located in the eastern border area.

Camp V

Adjacent to Camp II to the east are several small terraces, the function of which cannot be determined at present. Test excavations in excavation cut 16 revealed rampart-like fills with a ditch in front. Burnt clay and charcoal remains were found in a pit on the rampart.
For the time being not datable, obviously pre-medieval.

Camp VI

This area of the site is a wooded foreland directly adjoining Camp I to the north. Numerous metal finds, charcoal and traces of bricked-up building clay support the definition of this area as an independent external area VI. Here there is a marshy area with a water outlet, which may have played a role in the water supply of the camp. No traces of fortifications are discernible.

Only trial excavations can provide information about the use and affiliation of this area.

Roman findings

  •  Several coins:

Nemausus aces or dupondius (Nemausus series I, ca. 16 - 8 BC), partly counter stamped, a silver quinary (Republican, ca. 90 - 80 BC), several small Celtic coins which cannot be further identified. Also, an unknown number of Roman coins (looted excavation finds, carried away), allegedly Nemausus dupondius and republican denarii, possibly discovered as depot finds.

As early as 1855, Roman coins were found not far from this site (between Hedemünden and Ellerode). Following reports and the dragging of finds (1985 and 1998), intensive site inspections were carried out on the Burgberg from 1998 onwards with a series of test excavations by the Göttingen District Archaeology Department. These led to the discovery of the first Roman camp found in Lower Saxony.

A large number of Roman metal finds have been recovered since the discovery of the camp (plus an unknown number carried away by looted excavations), including coins, four pioneer axes, axe hammers, shovel hoes, pilum parts, lance tips and lance shoes, various catapult projectile bolts, tent pegs...

In comparison, identical forms are found among the finds from the Augustan-Tiberian camps in Westphalia (especially Haltern), from Xanten, Nijmegen, Kalkriese, from sites in southern and central Hesse (e.g. Rödgen, Waldgirmes, Hofheim), from Dangstetten (Upper Rhine) and Augsburg-Oberhausen.

Historical context

Based on the spectrum of coins, it can be dated to the early Augustan period. The most probable connection is with the Roman campaigns, starting from the Rhine line into the Germanic area on the right bank of the Rhine, under Nero Claudius Drusus between 11 and 9 BC, especially with the march around 9 BC, on the marching line from Mainz via the Wetterau, Dünsberg, central and northern Hesse (Chattian territory), via the Fulda crossing near Kassel, then via the Kaufunger Forest to the ford of the Werra at Hedemünden, from there further into the Leine valley (Chracian territory) and via the Elze-Hildesheim area eastwards to finally reach the Elbe.

It is also possible that the Hedemünden camp continued to exist in the following years and then ended after the lost battle in 9 AD at the Teutoburg Forest (Varus Battle). Hedemünden could also have been used again during the Roman revenge campaigns under Germanicus around 15 and 16 AD (advances against the Chatti, also starting from Mainz).

Audio guide (German)

On an acoustic journey into the past, the Hedemünden Roman camp is brought back to life. Visitors accompany the old legionary Julius Maximus Victorius and the young recruit Marcus Quintinus on their way through the lively Roman camp. Immerse yourself in the everyday life of the Roman legionaries around 2000 years ago. Also, archaeologists explain in interviews the development of the excavations in Hedemünden and the basic procedure for archaeological work. The audio guide is free of charge.

To play the audio files, click on the button. To download the audio files, right-click on the button and select "Save target as".

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