Hypocaust room.
Hypocaust room.

Continued From Augusta Rauricorum Part II

The path continues off to the north and shortly comes upon a set of remains with a covered roof, to the left of the path. This area along the path was apparently a major thoroughfare leading between the forum and districts of Augusta Rauricorum along the river. The presence of a number of artisan workshops dating back to the 1st century CE have been found along this route. The covered area here is identified as the heated triclinium of wealthy residence located in this area. The hypocaust system is looks to be mostly reconstructed, as does the flooring. The interior wall is reconstructed as well, to demonstrate the use of the hollow caliduct tiles for channeling heat through the walls. This whole setup seems more to illustrate the way the heating of the room worked than to showcase the area in a state of preservation. There is one sign in French and German, with no English translation. There’s no direct access to the room; it’s railed off.

A little bit farther to the north is a bathing complex, the other primary set of remains from this district of the city. The baths here were constructed at the end of the 2nd century CE. They were only functional for about 50 years before the whole district was destroyed in the mid-3rd century CE. Nothing seems to have been rebuilt in the area in antiquity. There is no direct access to the baths but there is a walkway that leads over them. Some large, robust walls in the western part of the site were probably retaining walls for a hill which once stood just to the west of this bathing complex, but the slope that abuts the site is now mostly gone; apparently largely destroyed for gravel quarrying.

Bathing complex. Augusta Rauricorum.
Bathing complex.

The bathing complex foundations, which are pretty heavily conserved, are helpfully color coded with the red gravel floors denoting the heated rooms. The circular room on the north was the laconicum, with the caldarium just to the south and the tepidarium south of that. The tepidarium leads into the praefurnium. The two rectangular rooms adjacent to the laconicum are believed to be living quarters for the owner of the baths. There is also a well to the west of the baths that pre-dates the bathing complex. If one follows the walkway to the far end of the site, and down the stairway, there is access to the underground well house, which dates mostly to around 80 CE. Part of the upper area was reconstructed around the time of the building of the baths. Like the curia basement, there is no posted hours when this is open, but it is probably safe to presume it may not be accessible outside of the opening hours of the museum (10:00 to 17:00). A few signs in English, French, and German explain the baths and well house. Interestingly, there’s another random sign about the well house up near the basilica; different than the one here.

This effectively wraps up the remains of the forum area, but there’s still quite a bit more of Augusta Rauricorum to see. From here, one can head back out to Giebenacherstrasse and continue south, away from the theater and museum. This leads back toward Parkplatz 2, the starting point. Continuing past Parkplatz2, there is a gravel trail leading off to the east. This whole area was once the location of a massive public baths complex, the so-called Central Baths. The baths were constructed around 100 CE, but presently almost nothing remains above ground of the bathing complex.

Interior of the cloaca.
Interior of the cloaca.

About 55 meters in on the gravel trail are a few signs in French and German and a stairway that leads down to a door. Though it is not a ticketed site and there is no one really there watching over things, the stated hours are between 10:00 and 17:00, so I presume the door is locked outside the hours. But, inside the door are the remains of a stretch of the cloaca sewer channel for the bathing complex. One can walk through the channel to another exit on the far eastern end of the channel. A little bit to the west, though, are the remains of a well-preserved stone cellar accessible from the channel. This cellar was associated with a private house that was built in the decades prior to the construction of the baths, and then destroyed and the cellar filled in when the baths were built. There is a separate exit at the east end of the canal, and east end of the gravel path.

Continuing south on Giebenacherstrasse is an intersection with one of the cross streets heading to Parkplatz 3 and the other, Venusstrasse heading off toward the east. Taking Venusstrasse eastward for about 450 meters leads to the Tierpark Augusta Raurica, a small animal park. There are a few Roman remains within the park. The Tierpark Augusta Raurica is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00, the same as all the other sights in town. There is no charge for admission, though. It’s really more of a public park, though there were employees around tending to the animals.

Tierpark Augusta Raurica funerary monument.
Tierpark Augusta Raurica funerary monument.

Upon entering the park through the gate off Venusstrasse, the first monument encountered is a funerary monument which sat just outside the east gate of the city. The mausoleum style tomb was constructed sometime shortly after about 80 CE. The original monument was about 5 meters tall, but now all that remains are about three courses of building material on the west half of the tomb, and about a meter high on the east side. It is pretty heavily conserved, and that’s probably a good thing, because there is no limitation of access to the tomb, it is completely open within the park. The outline of a pottery kiln is visible in the ground to the south of the mausoleum, indicating where the remains of one were found. The monument and pottery kiln are both perched on a terrace, of which there is a large retaining wall, also ancient, on the west side. Some of the exterior enclosure wall around the monument is also visible at the western side. 

 It is also worth mentioning that there is a stacked pile of blocks just to the northwest of the funerary monument, outside the section of enclosure wall.. They were completely covered by a tarp when I visited, but a sign nearby talks about 45 blocks from a nearby Roman bridge. I’m not entirely sure if these blocks under the tarp are those, as I was not able to get a good look at them, but judging by the proximity to the sign, they may be. They are just stacked and don’t really form any kind of structure. A column and fountain base located elsewhere in the park are replicas of pieces found in the vicinity.

North tower of the eastern city gate.
North tower of the eastern city gate.

About 40 meters to the southwest of the funerary monument are the remains of the eastern gate of the city. The remains of two towers can be seen flanking a fairly wide entrance through which a modern road runs. Constructed about 80 CE, this gate was part of a circuit of walls for Augusta Rauricorum that were started but never completed. The gate itself was atypical of Roman gates, as it was completely open between the two towers, without any sort of arch or arcade above the entry. The reasons for this seemingly unfinished gate and unfished circuit of walls is not completely clear. There are signs in English, French, and German at each of these points (bridge stones, mausoleum, and gate) with some helpful diagrams. Particularly for the gate, which helps to visualize the unusual open form of it.

Tile oven at the workshop.
Tile oven at the workshop.

Heading back out to Venusstrasse and continuing east about 40 meters is a side street, Schwarzackerstrasse, leading to the north. About 65 meters north on Schwarzackerstrasse, on the west side of the road, are the remains of a tile workshop. These are enclosed in a building that doesn’t appear to have any sort of regular access, but which has many windows from which the remains can be viewed from the outside. There are areas inside for viewing, but, again, it doesn’t seem to be regularly open. Even an accompanied school group that came while I was visiting was not let inside. What can be seen is a large tile kiln and a smaller one, two of a series of six that were found in the immediate area and seem to have made up a tile workshop that was staffed by soldiers. It is notably outside the circuit of the city walls of Augusta Rauricorum (of which a small stretch can be seen on the west side of the green space in front of (south of) the building. The tile workshop functioned from about 270 CE to 400 CE. Some finished roof tile stacks were also found and are on display. Several signs in English, French, and German explain the details of the oven and how it functioned.

East of the tile factory is a parking lot, and beyond that a north/south boulevarded street; Giebenacherstrasse (notably, not the same Giebenacherstrasse from earlier near the museum). About 400 meters north on this street is a roundabout, and in the middle of the roundabout is a Roman column. It seems as though it may be an authentic column, likely not in the place it was found, but, I can’t really find any reliable information on it.

Office and living area of the commercial building with warehouse room in the background. Augusta Rauricorum.
Office and living area of the commercial building with warehouse room in the background.

Continuing on to the north, the street turns into Widhagweg for about 120 meters before it intersects into Landestrasse, an east/west road. Taking Landestrasse to the west, that street eventually turns into Haupstrasse. About half a kilometer east on these two roads is the final site of the main town of Augusta Rauricorum; the Gewerbehäuser, the commercial buildings. This is an entranced site, open between 10:00 and 17:00, and though it is free, you will still need a ticket that is available at the museum. Though, if you already visited the museum, your museum ticket will work as well. There was someone there to check the ticket when I visited.

This building is believed to have been a hospitium, or primarily some sort of lodging on the main level, which is no longer preserved. What is preserved though, are the remains of the lower level of this building, which had some varied functionality. The large open area, to the left when entering, that appears to have a basin of some sort, is identified as a warehouse. The two smaller rooms next to the warehouse are believed to be an office and living area. The living area has the caliduct tiles visible in the walls to heat the room. A room at the far end of the warehouse room also appears to have this system. The larger room below the living area and office is the pantry, and next to that, the farthest room to the right, is a smokehouse. A small oven used in the process can be seen. Some wall painting is visible on the interior and exterior walls of the living area.

Smokehouse area of the commercial building.
Smokehouse area of the commercial building.

There’s no direct access to any of these rooms, but rather an upper walkway that gives an overview of the area and a lower walkway that allows for a closer look at the remains closest to the street side. The whole complex seems to have been destroyed in a fire around 290 CE. There are a few information panels (English, French, German) in an interpretive area near the entrance.

Continued In Augusta Rauricorum Part III



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