Interior Buildings of the Fort: The Principia


SUCH knowledge as we possess of the buildings to be found within a Roman fort comes chiefly from the plans recovered by excavation. Of the small permanent forts like Newstead no description survives in the works of military writers. Hyginus, who, as we saw above, is believed to have written in the beginning of the second century A.D., gives a series of rules for the laying out of the encampment of a great army in the field,—a force composed of three legions with auxiliary troops, and numbering upwards of 30,000 men. This force, it need hardly be said, is purely hypothetical. The opportunity for excavating such a camp as Hyginus describes cannot arise. We have, however, various examples of the permanent camps, or, as they may perhaps more correctly be termed, the fortresses occupied by legionary troops. Of these Carnuntum, Novaesium, and Lambaesis are the most completely excavated. Novaesium was constructed to hold 9222 fighting men—roughly a modern division. Carnuntum is much smaller—the proportion is roughly 3:2. Lambaesis again is larger than Carnuntum, but this is perhaps only due to the fact that the legionaries now had more comfort and more room. As has already been pointed out, the essence of the difference may be that in the former case the auxiliaries were brigaded with the legionary troops. In all these there occur certain main features which are characteristic of the Hyginian plan. Some of these features we can still recognise in the more restricted area of the fort at Newstead, and even in those of smaller size. In short, the laying out of camps was evidently a recognised science. Thus, although the plans known to us in Britain, as well as on the Continent, exhibit considerable variety, the same general scheme was adopted nearly everywhere.