#11

Biriciana, the Roman Weißenburg (Weißenburg)

The first soldiers of Ala I Hispanorum Auriana reached the area of modern Weißenburg around AD 100. The surrounding countryside provided ample building materials for them to build a large timber fort with barracks and defences. One of the tasks of the newly established fort was to control and protect the road running from AELIA AUGUSTA – Augsburg to MOGONTIACUM – Mainz. Cavalry units such as that stationed at BIRICIANA were extremely flexible and could operate across long distances. Around the mid 2nd century AD the fort was rebuilt in stone. At the same time, it was enlarged slightly. Shortly after this rebuilding, the Limes itself was restructured and fortified with a palisade.

Soon after the establishment of Biriciana a civilian settlement developed around the fort. As part of this, several public baths were opened. To date archaeologists have discovered three sets of baths. These are located west of the fort and form a spa area of the town. The baths were not only used for personal hygiene and health reasons, but also served as meeting points. A significantpart of Roman public life took place here. You had to pay to go to the public baths and men and women had separate bathing times. By the middle of the 3rd century AD the empire had been weakened through both external and internal conflicts. The frontier troops had been reduced and pay was slow – soldiers frequently had to wait for months to get their money. An attack by plundering Germans hit Biriciana extremely hard. The fort, despite its fortifications, and a large part of the civilian settlement were destroyed in a fire. The inhabitants only had time to rescue the bare essentials. The Weißenburg hoard bears testimony to these troubled times.