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Vortigern Studies > Fectio > Roman Sites > Limes 1973 (2)

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Limes Germany
Tuesday 24 July 1973
Roman Tower and wall
Bad access for the disabledFree access to the monument
Roman name: -
Roman Province: Raetia
Country: Germany
Province: Baden-Württemberg
Nearest town: Ellwangen
Nearest village: Schwabsberg

As the Obergermaniche Limes was the northern part of the frontier, the Rätische Limeswall was formed by a brick wall. Unlike its northern neighbour, this border had no ditch or bank. The Limes was not a defended frontier anyway, but rather more like a guarded frontier and a clear statement, which made it unnecessary to have a efensive ditch. That statement continued to tell until the mid-3rd century, when civil unrest within the Empire made a continuous defence of the Limes impossible. Although the German tribes, the Alamanni in front, moved in quite slowly and hesitantly, and retained much of Roman agriculture and money, the lands lost by 260 AD were never recovered and the Empire drew back beyond Rhine and Danube.

Map of the area west of Rainau.This particular site, is near the famous Limes gate (Click to enlarge the map). This is near Rainau, where there's an open-air museum with a fort, the gate, several fragments of wall and a reconstructed tower. Well, the picture (blurry and all) shows that we were there allright! A few metres away is the wall, with the remains of the later tower, and a short reconstruction of the wall itself, as can be seen on the fuzzy picture above. We had intended to visit the famous Limesmuseum in Aalen, but my dad did not look at the guidebook close enough (happens to me all the time now that I'm nearly 40 ..), which was a big disappointment for me. History would (nearly) repeat itself when I visited Aalen again decades later.

The spot itself certainly warrants a visit. Easy to reach, in short distance of several very interesting Roman remains. The tower itself, situated in the Mahdholz forest, is also interesting, as it represents a single tower which was later replaced with one incorporated in the Rätische Limes. The tower, by the way, is pure conjecture. A tower is expected, but no remains were ever found - most probably were the stones re-used for the nearby monastery. the wooden reconstruction of the tower that was built here presents a nice view of the surrounding countryside, but it is a fake - there never were any wooden towers on this section of the border, just stone ones. Also the ground-floor door is wrong.

Ruins of tower WP12/77 in the Mahdholz near Rainau, with a section of reconstructed wll beyond.
Ruins of tower WP12/77 in the Mahdholz near Rainau, with a section of reconstructed wll beyond.
Reconstruction of WP12/77, here visited by Marcus Junkelmann in 1988.
Reconstruction of WP12/77, here visited by Marcus Junkelmann in 1988.


  • 80 Kilometer Limesfaszination, at: http://www.limesprojekt.de/
  • Baatz, D. (1993): Der Römische Limes, Archäologische Ausflüge zwischen Rhein und Donau, (Berlin).
  • Fischer, Thomas (1999): Die Römer in Deutschland, Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart.
  • Oelwein, Cornelia (1998): Römer in Deutschland, (HB Bildatlas 20).
  • Planck, D und W. Beck (1987): Der Limes in Südwestdeutschland, (Stuttgart).
  • Rabold, Britta, Egon Schallmayer, Andreas Thiel (2000): Der Limes, die Deutsche Limes-Straße vom Rhein bis zur Donau, Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart.

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