New Finds in Hedemünden
In 2007, two additional camps have been discovered on the other side of the Werra (Visurgis) river. Those outposts were in sight distance of the main fort and connected to it by a system of Roman roads. Diggings will go on; among the finds already brought to light is a beautiful 29 cm long pugio and lots of sandal nails. The new discoveries prove a "considerable Roman presence at Hedemünden," says leading archaeologist Dr. Klaus Grote.
View over the Werra valley and hills from Hedemünden Fort
Another interesting find has been made in 2008: Another dagger and a fetter to secure prisoners, constructed to fix head and hands in the style of a Medieaval fiddle. It's a two part structure made of rounded iron; neck and wrists were put into the rings and then the fetter was closed with a bolt and secured with a padlock. The fetter is complete except for the padlock.
Chief archaeologist Klaus Grote with restored dagger and fetter
Photo copyright: Göttinger Tageblatt
If you take a close look you can see the rings are actually shaped like a snake winding around the bolt. You gotta love people who gave even shackles a stylish design.
No similar fetter has been found so far, albeit it is known that the Mediaeval fiddle type shackles go back on older models. But excavated Roman models so far are either irons rings with chains to be used on neck or ankle, and manacles. The Hedemünden fetter is the super-find of the year, lead archaeologist Klaus Grote said. It has come to light in one of the smaller camps surrounding Hedemünden fortress, near Oberode. To the left: Another photo of Mr. Grote presenting the newest finds. Copyright: HNA online.
The fetter was found together with other pieces from Roman times in the same archaeological strata 35 cm under the surface. Besides parts of a horse harness, a tent peg and shards of an amphora, there were some coins dating 16-8 BC, a sure proof that the fetter is indeed Roman. Fetter and dagger have been cleaned and restored by Helmut Biebler in Mühlhausen.
The legionary dagger or pugio
has been found in the main camp. It was deposed under two large sandstone blocks surrounded by a ring of upright stones, a sign that it had not been lost but was placed there on purpose as building sacrifice. The stones sit on the place of a former timber building. One of the stone foundations in the main camp
Legionary daggers are not only a weapon but also something of a status symbol a soldier would take care not to lose - the reason why they're a lot more scarce than fe. spear points; another argument in favour of a ritual placement of the dagger. Though I'd like to know what sort of ceremony would entice a legionary to give up his dagger.
The two pugio
finds at Hedemünden are the only ones in Lower Saxony. The weapon, Mr. Grote says, would have been a sensation in itself but for the even more spectacular fetter.Another shot of the wall and trench fortifications
Considering the timber/earth wall fortifications and first steps into rebuilding some of the houses in stone may imply that Hedemünden could have become a major Roman fort with an annexed vicus
, or even a town if the Romans had not decided to abandon Germania after the defeat in the Teutoburg Forest and Germanicus' not very successful attempts to conquer Germania in 14-16 AD.
All in all, some 2500 metal objects have been discovered since 2003, weapons, tools, coins, jewlelry and everyday objects. Alas, diggings will have to be stopped next year for the lack of fundings, chief archaeologist Klaus Grote says. It's a pity that there's never money for those things. We can only hope the new finds may change some peoples' minds about funding. Sources: Göttinger Tageblatt and HNA Online, both from Sept. 11, 2008.