Limes en landschap | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 53, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



From the AD 40s onwards a dense Roman military system was established along the Oude Rijn in the Netherlands. It has long been questioned why this system was established in a wetland area, and how it went on to become the northwest frontier or of the Roman Empire. In order to shed new light on this longstanding historical debate a detailed paleogeographical map was constructed. From the information assembled in this new map it can be concluded that this military system, which comprised a combination of forts and watchtowers, was established to watch over the river Rhine and its traffic, and to guard all waterways that gave access to the Rhine from the Germanic territories further north, and to and from the river Meuse further south to the delta.

It is clear that strategic and logistical motives determined the size and location of all of the forts and military installations in this fortified transport corridor. The construction of the series of forts from the early 40s AD onwards has been correlated with the conquest of Britain from AD 43 onwards, but the building project was initiated in the reign of Caligula (AD 37-41).


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