Heumen – Roman watchtower
R13
Malden
290

Heumen – Roman watchtower

Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower

In the middle of Heumensoord one can still find the remains of a Roman guard house dating back to the 3rd century. The guard house played an important role in the Romans’ defence strategy.

The Romans ensured that their troops were stationed further into the hinterland in order to be able to withstand the invasions from Germanic tribes, and they erected a chain of guard houses along the borders of their empire so that they could pass messages on quickly when danger was looming. These messages were passed on using torches and flags. The guard house in Heumensoord was made of wood, measured about 20×20 metres and had a tiled roof. The building included a watchtower that was almost eight metres in height. When it burned down in the fourth century, it was replaced by a slightly smaller one.

Strategic location
The guard house was located along the main road from Nijmegen to Maastricht and Tongeren, the Roman predecessor of the A73 motorway. The road followed a straight line from Nijmegen to the bridge on the river Meuse near Mook. Although the area is quite hilly, the watchtower was constructed in such a way that it had strategic views of the tower at the fort in Nijmegen (located at Valkhof) and Cuijk.

Roman service station
During excavations at this site, a structure from the 2nd century was discovered. This may have been a ‘mansio’ or ‘statio’, a kind of service station where horsemen from the emperor’s courier service could swap horses. The actual road has also been uncovered. It measured six metres in width and had trenches on both sides. Surprisingly enough, the Romans did not bother to harden this main road with stones or gravel. Apparently they thought that the soil was firm enough in itself. The terrain where the guard house once stood has been covered with wire netting and sand to protect it from treasure hunters and to trick the metal detectors. The moats have also been dug out to reintroduce this historic site back into the local landscape.

Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower
Heumen – Roman watchtower

Romeinse wachttoren

r13_nl_lo
3:09