Station: [14] Model: Fort and Vicus of Boiodurum

Over eight square metres, the model in front of you shows the structure and scale of the fort of Boiodurum and its associated civilian settlement. The fort was established at the confluence of the rivers Inn and Danube around AD 90 as part of a drive to fortify the Roman Danube frontier. Initially, the fort was made of earth and timber; only in the second century was it reinforced in stone. The model shows what the fort would have looked like around AD 200. At that time, Boiodurum was garrisoned by a unit of 300 soldiers. Actually, exactly that number of soldiers are included in the model! The main thoroughfare of the fort was known as the Via Principalis. It formed the lateral axis of the fort and ran past the headquarters building, known as the Principia. Located next to that was the Praetorium, the private house of the commander and his family. On the other side of the headquarters was the Horreum, a storehouse for grain and supplies. The model shows a cart being unloaded in front of the Horreum while recruits are being sworn in at the Principia. The Via Praetoria led directly to the headquarters and bisected the Via Principalis. The rear part of the fort was known as the Retentura. It was divided by the Via Decumana and began behind the Principia. Along both sides of the Via Decumana lay barracks that housed the soldiers. You can look into one of these to see how Roman soldiers lived in spartan quarters with bunk beds. The weapons and other belongings were kept in a small front room. The Retentura also housed a stable, farriers and more storehouses. The latrines were placed beneath the perimeter wall. ¬ In the model, some soldiers are guarding the gates of the fort while others are busy working on the outer wall. They are wearing the usual working clothes of the time, known as tunics. East of the defensive ditches, three military units known as cohorts stand at attention, while a smaller troop marches along the road west of the fort. The settlement surrounding the fort - known as a vicus - offered a number of recreational venues, such as taverns. You can look into one such tavern through the cutaway roof. The fort was also supplied by a number of tradesmen, including a blacksmith and perhaps even a glassmaker and a dyer. The model includes a detailed replica of a pottery workshop, complete with clay pit, potter’s wheel, kiln and finished products ready for sale. Incidentally, the fragment of a mortar displayed on the lower floor will have come from just such a workshop. High-quality ceramics such as Terra Sigillata, though, were never produced at Boiodurum. Roman soldiers were forbidden from marrying during their time in active service. Nevertheless, many formed ‘de facto’ marriages and their civilian families lived in the camp settlement. They lived in what are known as ‘strip houses’, long houses whose narrow ends faced onto the road. Behind these, there were gardens where people grew fruit and vegetables and also kept small animals.