Castellum Constantia - Konstanz, BW, D
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member André de Montbard
N 47° 39.822 E 009° 10.533
32T E 513180 N 5278937
Roman border fortress "Constantia", the namesake of the City of Konstanz at Lake Constance, Germany.
Waymark Code: WM16AFE
Location: Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Date Posted: 06/14/2022
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Constantia is the collective term for a late Roman border fort of the Danube-Iller-Rhine-Limes, as well as for a civil settlement from the High Imperial Period and late antiquity. You are in the city of Konstanz, district of Konstanz, federal state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

The oldest traces of settlement go back to the early Stone Age. Dating from the 1st century BC BC the existence of a Celtic settlement is known, from the 1st to the 3rd century AD the Romans built several forts on today's cathedral hill to defend the border. Constance was at the intersection of several roads to northern Italy, Gaul and the east of the Roman Empire and became an important trading center. The Roman Lake Constance fleet also had a base there. The excavations in the early 2000s finally led to the discovery of a late Roman border fort from the 4th century AD, which has long been suspected place was. Comparable forts were in neighboring Stein am Rhein and Arbon (Switzerland). Today's city developed from the Roman military camp in the early Middle Ages and has retained its ancient name, which probably goes back to Emperor Constantius I (293 to 306), to this day.

The late Roman fort of Constance was conveniently located on the southern shore of Lake Constance (Lacus Constantinus), in the area where the Obersee flows into the Seerhein. In all probability it guarded a road bridge over the Seerhein and probably also had a bridgehead on the right bank. It is towered over by a moraine that rises around five to seven meters above the water level, the Münster Hügel, the highest elevation in today's Constance city area at the Constance funnel, where the Rhine leaves Lake Constance. The foothills of the Alps and the area around the mouth of the Rhine could be surveyed well from here. Unlike today, in ancient times this hill formed a narrow tongue of land, only accessible from the south, surrounded by bodies of water and marshes to the west. Only in the course of high medieval and modern settlement activity did the buildable area continue to grow through landfill. Constantia was part of the late antique Limes of the province of Raetia. In the course of the Diocletian imperial reforms in 297 AD, it was added to the newly formed province of Raetia prima.


Traces of Roman settlements have been found in Konstanz since the 1st century. It is not known how the settlement on the cathedral hill was called at that time. In the Geographike Hyphegesis of Claudius Ptolemy (around 160 AD), however, a settlement called Drusomagus (= large oak forest) is mentioned (Ptolem. Geogr. 2,12,3), which a research group identified in 2010 as today's Constance wants. However, the localization of Drusomagus is still controversial; it remains to be seen whether the new approach will prevail.

The first secure written mention of the place name Constantia comes from the time around 525 and can be found in the - written in Latin - travel guide of the Ostrogoth Anarid. It may already appear on a Roman road map (Tabula Peutingeriana) of the 4th/5th c. Century, and the geographer of Ravenna mentions in his Cosmographia, created around 700, a civitas Constantia. However, in the Rhaetian troop list of the Notitia Dignitatum, one of the most important sources for the early 5th century, one of the two bases of the Roman Lake Constance flotilla is referred to as Confluentibus. Due to the context, however, one assumes that this does not mean Koblenz, but Konstanz. Confluentes may have been the former name of the settlement before it was renamed.
The reverse of this Argenteus, minted under Emperor Constantius I, depicts the four tetrarchs in a sacrificial scene

The late antique fortification seems to have had a certain importance as it was apparently named after one of the emperors of the Constantinian dynasty. The most likely candidate for this is Constantius I, who won a few victories over the Alamanni around the year 300 and stabilized the Limes of the Roman Empire on the Rhine and Danube again. Around this time, several forts were built on the Rhine, including the neighboring Eschenz Fort. According to other researchers, Constance bears the name of his grandson, Emperor Constantius II, who also took action against the Alamanni on the Rhine and in Raetia in 354 and 355 and therefore probably stayed in Constance for some time. The place could bear his name on this occasion ever since.

research history

In 1414, during his visit to the Council of Constance, the Italian humanist Leonardo Bruni noticed a Roman inscription tablet built into the Mauritius rotunda. Based on its text, it was believed from ancient times that the city of Constance was named after Constantius Chlorus, father of Emperor Constantine the Great, but was previously known as Vitudura. In truth, however, it was an architectural inscription that reports on the erection of the defense of Vitudurum (Oberwinterthur, CH) in 294 AD. The stone, which was broken into two parts, was taken to Constance in the early Middle Ages and put together in such a way that the emperor named "[CON]ST[ANTIVS]" became the focus of the text. Bruni was also caught up in the same error that prompted the citizens of Constance to associate the inscription with their city and therefore place it on Münsterplatz as an alleged "founding document".

The first soil investigations were carried out by the pharmacist Ludwig Leiner and the history student Konrad Beyerle between 1872 and 1898. At that time the enclosing walls of the fort were uncovered on the Münsterplatz and later filled in again. Since 1882, when Ludwig Leiner published a summary of the Roman archaeological finds based on his observations, archeological research in Roman and early medieval Constantia was ill-fated. Two scientific excavations were carried out in the area around the minster, on which Leiner had proven Roman settlement.

In 1931, Paul Revellio, the excavator of the Roman fort in Hüfingen, temporarily took over the direction of an investigation begun by Alfons Beck on the southern cathedral hill on behalf of the Baden Monuments Authority in Karlsruhe. In 1957, Gerhard Bersu, director of the Roman-Germanic Commission in Frankfurt, made two excavation cuts on the northern Münsterplatz. Based on the quantity and character of the late Roman strata on the southern cloister wall, he assumed that there must have been a late Roman fort in the area of ??the cathedral hill. Between 1930 and 1960 the teacher Alfons Beck took care of the city's archaeological remains. In the 1960s, municipal excavations on Münsterplatz uncovered traces of the Roman fort. However, instead of aiming for an archaeological dig, the aqueducts were laid around the site. From the 1970s, Hans Stather worked as a volunteer at the State Monuments Office of Baden-Württemberg. In 1974-1975, Wolfgang Erdmann and Alfons Zettler archaeologically supervised a construction project on the southern cathedral hill on behalf of the State Monuments Office of Baden-Württemberg in connection with the renovation of the crypt under the Constance Cathedral. Hans Stather doubted the existence of a fort and still assumed the alternative possibility of a walled vicus, a small fortress or a burgus to secure a harbour.

From Constance to 1983, archaeological experts hardly took any notice. This year, as part of a large-scale urban redevelopment program, archaeological research into the history of the city of Konstanz became a priority program of the State Monuments Office. Judith Oexle was in charge of the scientific management. After her departure in 1993, the scientific management of the excavations passed to Marianne Dumitrache, and from 1999 to Ralph Röber. These investigations also revealed some new insights into the city's Celtic and Roman eras.

The remains of the late Roman fortifications from the 4th century were then excavated from 2003 to 2004 on Münsterplatz. Since then there has been no doubt about the existence of the late antique fortress. This year, the city administration's plans to completely redesign the northern Münsterplatz took concrete shape. The soil interventions on an area of ??around 6000 m² in a highly interesting archaeological zone made possible a large-scale excavation, which was scientifically accompanied by the Baden-Württemberg State Monuments Office. The excavations were also carried out using the latest EDP technology and were essentially completed by the end of December 2004. Among other things, it produced important results on the Roman city history of Constance. After extensive excavations, the remains of the wall of the late antique tower foundation, ditches and a well were archaeologically examined and appropriately conserved. A total of around 400,000 small finds were recovered, mostly ceramic fragments.

What was spectacular was the discovery and confirmation of the (unexpectedly large) late Roman fort and the preservation of the construction finds of its defenses and inner buildings, which have been uncovered in small parts. The findings about the early Roman military installation and the burial ground on the cathedral hill, which was already known before the excavation, were also revealing. From 2005 to 2007, the first results of the excavations were presented as part of a traveling exhibition “In the protection of mighty walls. Late Roman forts in the Lake Constance region” to a broader public.

Some of the small finds pointing to the late Roman period, the wheel sigillata, have already been worked on by Wolfgang Hübener. It comes from Lavoye and was made in the period from about 330-360 AD. The late type of terra sigillata indicates a Roman military presence on the cathedral hill in Constance during this period.

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Most Relevant Historical Period: Roman Empire > 27 B.C.

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Condition: Some remaining traces (ruins) or pieces

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