The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


22 Jul 2018
  "Palaces adorn its every shore" - The Villa Urbana in Longuich at the Moselle

Where the blueish stream expands, behold the multitude
Of villae, proudly gabled, leaning against the rocks,
And as the river wanders in a meand'ring course,
Palaces alternately adorn its every shore.
(1)

Decimus Magnus Ausonius, Mosella, lines 283-286; translation by me.

The villa urbana in Longuich, east wing

One of those palaces (praetoriae) praised in the poem is the Roman villa near Longuich at the Moselle. The reconstructed east wing shows only a part of the entire villa as Ausonius would have beheld it, but it is still a pretty example of Roman country estate architecture. The villa is situated on a terrace halfway up the vineyard hills framing the Moselle, with a fine view over the valley and river.

Villa in Longuich, east wing and connecting passage

The land around the Moselle (including most of present day's Luxembourg and western Belgium) was the territory of the Treveri, a tribe of the Belgae, a Celtic speaking people of mixed Celtic-German origins. Part of the tribe joined the Gallic revolt against Caesar under their chief Indutiomarus and, after Indutiomarus' death, sided with Ambiorix. Others stood with his pro-Roman son Cingetorix whom Caesar later appointed king. The territory became part of the province of Gallia Belgica after Caesar's conquest of Gaul in 50 BC.

East wing, the outside facing wall

The original oppidum of the Treveri on the Titelberg (now southern Luxembourg) was replaced by Augusta Treverorum aka Trier during the reign of Augustus and made into the new capital of the Province probably about BC 17 (2). A class of wealthy officials who could afford a country estate soon developed, and there was the - increasingly Romanized - local nobility who could afford a posh lifestyle.

East wing with vineyards in the background

The first villa on the site, dating to the early 2nd century AD, was a villa rustica, basically a large style farm with a country house where the owner spent some quality time with his family when not working in Trier. Those farms were usually run by a steward and provided agricultural produced for the towns and military settlements. The Roman estates usually were rather large, but there must have been a lot of smaller farms mostly owned by locals and maybe veterans as well (3).

Another view of the east wing

The villa whose remains we can see today was built in the later 2nd century AD and can be classified as villa urbana, a country estate with a representative main building, the pars urbana, separated from the actual farm buildings by a wall. Those villae were built by retired Roman officials and maybe local nobles with enough money who fancied the Roman luxuries. It is often difficult to tell who the owner of the many remains dotting the Moselle valley was. They didn't leave behind their doorplates.

Remains of columns outside the east wing

The remains of the villa in Longuich were discovered in 1984. The main building, or rather, set of buildings around several inner yards, measured 110x28 metres. The former smaller building had been deconstructed when the new 'palace' was erected. The east wing and the connecting passage are only a part (4) of the entire layout which included a great house and a west wing, all connected by passages. Both wings had pillared avant-corpses - you can see remains of the pillars on the photo above.

Covered passage with foundations of other domestic buildings in the foreground

The actual farm or pars rustica stretched down the hill toward the Moselle where the village of Longuich is now located. Foundations of several farm buildings have been found, but were mostly covered up again. The situation of the villa at a road leading to Trier and not far from the Moselle made it easy to transport the goods to the capital, and traveling would not take much time for the owner, either (it's about 15 minutes by bus).

Garden in one of the inner yards

The east wing contained the baths, and those have been reconstructed. There is no direct access, but I managed to take some photos through the grilles in the doors to the various rooms. So here is a bathing series:

The cold bath

We start with the cold bath or frigidarium. You can see a hint of the bathtub proper in the niche to the left. The room in the foreground was the toilet.

The hot bath with anteroom

The next room is the hot bath, the caldarium. The tub is in the corner to the right; in the foreground is an anteroom which may have been used for massages, rest and such.

The sweating bath with connection to the heating room

Next comes the sweating bath (sudatorium) with the connection to the heating room, the praefurnium. You can see the brick built chute to the left which would have been covered by tiles and which transported the heated air to the hypocaust under the baths.

The sewer pipe outside the east wing

The dirty water was drained to the outside, as you can see here. What remains is only the brick-built encasement (minus the cover) of the pipe which would have been a proper lead pipe. I could not find any information where the sewer finally led; maybe to the fields and vineyards.

Interior of the passage

The baths were decorated with a fine mosaic floor and frescoes. A few traces of those remain and have been placed in the original spots during the reconstruction, but it was impossible to get any clear photo in the dim light, using a zoom to catch an impression of the rooms in the first place.

View out of the passage

The villa was in use until some time in the 4th century. Some of its pillars and stones found their way into the church of Longuich during the Middle Ages, and probably other houses that no longer exist. Roman remains almost always served as quarries.

Pretty view from the porticus of the east wing

Footnotes
1) The original Latin text:
Talia despectant longo per caerula tractu
Pendentes saxis instanti culmine villae
Quas medius dirimit sinuosis flexibus errans
Amnis, et alternas comunt praetoria ripas.
2) The original capital of Gallia Belgica had been Durocortum Remorum = Reims.
3) The latter would have been more common along the the Rhine where the legionary and auxiliary forts were located, not along the Moselle.
4) I'd say about a third, judging from a sketch of the entire front on the leaflet provided by the tourist office.

Literature
Vera Rupp, Heide Birley (ed.): Landleben im römischen Deutschland. Stuttgart, 2012
Andreas Thiel: Die Römer in Deutschland. Stuttgart, 2008
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, the Baltic Countries, and central Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Some historical events are linked under more than one country / subtitle due to the overarching nature of history.


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List of Mediaeval German Emperors

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Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

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King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

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Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus

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The Star Wars


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King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

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Contested Borders

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King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


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Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
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Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
The Early Stewart Kings

Local Troubles

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A Scottish Wedding

Scotland and England

The Wars of Independence
Alexander of Argyll
The Fight for Stirling Castle


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Wales and England

A History of Rebellion
Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

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King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

Feuds and Rebellions

Rebels
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Livonian Towns

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390


Poland

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig


Bohemia

Royal Dynasties

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
King Sigismund and the Hussite Wars


Roman History

The Romans at War

Forts and Fortifications

The German Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg

The Hadrian's Wall
Introduction
The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend

Border Life
Exercise Halls
Mile Castles and Watch Towers
Soldiers' Living Quarters
Cavalry Barracks

Campaigns and Battles

Maps
The Romans in Germania

The Pre-Varus Invasion in Germania
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction

Miscellaneous Events

The Legend of Alaric's Burial

Roman Militaria

Armour
Early Imperial Helmets
Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

Weapons
Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum
Daggers
Swords

Other Equipment
Roman Saddles


Roman Life and Religion

Religion and Public Life

Religion
Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms
Isis Worship
Memorial Stones
The Mithras Cult

Public Life
Roman Transport: Barges
Roman Transport: Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Architecture
Roman Public Baths

Domestic Life

Roman villae
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
Bathing Habits
Children's Toys
Face Pots


Other Times

Neolithicum to Iron Age

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
The Hutewald Project in the Solling
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Neolithic Remains
Stone Burials of the Funnelbeaker Culture
The Necropolis of Oldendorf

Bronze Age / Iron Age
The Nydam Ship

Scotland

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Bronze Age / Iron Age
Clava Cairns
The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Their Function in Iron Age Society

Scandinavia

Bronze / Iron Age
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd / Gotland


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History and Literature

The Weimar Classicism
The Weimar Classicism - Introduction

Theodor Fontane
Short Biography of Theodor Fontane
Fontane Ballads, translated by me
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs
Sandstone Formations: Daneil's Cave
Sandstone Formations: Devil's Wall
Sandstone Formations: The Klus Rock

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations
Salt Springs at the Werra

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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