(Windisch) Aargau, Switzerland.
Roman legionary camp and vicus just E of Brugg,
at the confluence of the Aare, the Reuss, and the Limmat.
The site, at the foot of a pass over the Jura, also dominated access to the Rhine 15 km to the N, and was
thus a strategic crossroads. Three roads met here: the
highway on the left bank of the Rhine via Augusta
Raurica to Lake Constance, the road from the Rhone
valley via Genava to Tenedo and the Danube, and that
via Aquae Helveticae, Turicum, and Curia to Italy. When
the Rhine was the frontier of the Empire, before A.D. 75
and again after 260, Vindonissa was vital in the communications system between the armies on the Rhine and the Danube. It also guarded that part of the Rhine frontier made vulnerable by the sharp bend of the river
A fort was built here when the Rhine became a defense line under Tiberius, and the legionary camp at Oberhausen-Augsburg in Vindelicia was abandoned, probably ca. A.D. 16-17. It is possible that a small fort had
existed since early Augustan times, but this is attested
only by small finds. From A.D. 16 to 45-46 Vindonissa
was occupied by the Legio XIII Gemina from Oberhausen; from 46 to 69 by the Legio XXI Rapax and two auxiliary cohorts, first the III Hispanorum and VI Raetorum, later the VII Raetorum equitata and the XXVI
voluntariorum civium Romanorum. In A.D. 70 Vespasian, after defeating the adherents of Vitellius (Tac.,
. 1.67-69), sent the Legio XI Claudia pia fidelis as
the new garrison from Burnum in Dalmatia.
When the frontier was transferred from the Rhine to
the Upper German Limes, Vindonissa lost its strategic
importance. The legion probably left in 101, but the
base continued to be manned by a detachment of Legio
VIII in Argentorate. After A.D. 150 it apparently became
part of the vicus Vindonissensium (CIL
XIII, 5195, 5194 =
Howald-Meyer nos. 265-266), but a statio of beneficiarii
remained to guard the roads and bridges. About 260 it
was refortified (CIL
XIII, 5203 = Howald-Meyer no. 294)
to an unknown extent, and occupied by troops ca. 260-70. Numismatic evidence indicates occupation throughout the 4th c. A smaller fortress was built on the spur between the Aare and the Reuss, just W of the legionary fort. An inscription mentions Valentinian I (CIL
This Castrum Vindonissense (Not. Gall
. 9.5) is mentioned in the early 5th c. as the seat of a suffragan
bishop, and bishops are attested in the 6th and 9th c.
After the departure of the garrison, probably in A.D. 401,
the vicus continued to flourish. Cemeteries of the Early
Middle Ages have been found.
A ditch (20 m wide), going back to the Celtic oppidum indicated by the name Vindonissa, has been identified. It barred off the spur E of the site of the Roman fortress. The legionary camp was oriented to the S. Its
irregular shape, with seven corners, arose partly from
the terrain (area 221.7 ha). Inside it the principia were
not in the center at the crossing of the main roads, but
at the angle between them. The via decumana and via
principalis (4 and 6 m wide without the porticos) ran
straight through from gate to gate, crossing at right
angles. There were three building periods. The two earlier ones (A.D. 14 to 25-30; 25-30 to 45, Legio XIII)
had wooden structures, but in the third and main period
(A.D. 45-69, Legio XXI) the camp was rebuilt in stone
with some additions and alterations. In periods 1 and 2
the walls and gates were earth and timber, and in period
2 the fort was enlarged on the N.
In the stone fortress of the third period three main
gates have been explored. The N and S gates (porta
praetoria) were almost identical (3 and 3.5 m wide)
and there were two towers (7 x 6.3 m); the W gate
dates from the late 2d c. The walls were 3.5 m thick,
and carried six towers of various types. Along the S and
W walls ran double ditches (berm 1.3 m; ditches 7.8
and 4.8 m wide); the other sides were partly protected
by the steep slopes. Among the buildings identified are
the principia, baths, a hospital (?), an arsenal, a granary,
two more storehouses, and the scant remains of what
was probably a first period praetorium and sanctuary.
The rectangular principia (190 x 150 m), dated by
building inscriptions to A.D. 47, consists of two open
courts divided by a wall. The courts are surrounded on
three sides by rows of small rooms (double row in the
back), comprising the armories and a shrine. On the
fourth side, across the via principalis, which was spanned
by two monumental archways, was a basilica (95 x 20 m)
with an apsidal tribune at each end. The baths (70 x 44
m) had frigidarium, tepidarium, and caldarium side by
side on the long axis, with dressing-rooms on both sides
of the cold baths and two sweating-rooms between the
warm and the hot baths. The baths were decorated with
wall paintings and floor mosaics (geometric, black and
white). A granary (33.8 x 10.8 m) lay E of the N gate,
with two rows of six pillars; farther E was an arsenal
(41 x 33 m) with portico, vestibule, two lateral wings
for carts, and a freestanding cella surrounded by pillars.
The hospital (70 x 63.8 m) consisted of two concentric
series of small identical chambers around a rectangular
court. The praetorium of period 3, not certainly identified, was perhaps located, like the earlier one, in the corner W of the via decumana and N of the via principalis, opposite the principia.
The barracks were mostly oriented N-S, parallel to
the decumanus, and comprised 10-12 contubernia. Four
of the six houses of the military tribunes have been excavated, and two more identified on the via principalis
sinistra. They vary in size (40 x 32 m, 49 x 39 m), and
have open inner courts (12 x 7; 5.25 x 22 m) surrounded
by porticos. The reduced function of the fort after A.D.
75 is reflected in the addition of a basilica to the baths,
the reduction of the principia to smaller size, and the
demolition of some barracks in order to build a large
storehouse (81 x 43 m). After A.D. 150, when civilians
took over the fort, the principia and baths were torn
down, and some buildings remodeled for private use.
To the 3d c. fortifications (ca. 260) belong the stone
walls and towers, and the monumental W gate flanked
by polygonal towers (overall width 28.4 m). The gateway proper had a concave facade and three passageways
(1.5; 6; 1.5 m). Inside the fort some barracks and possibly a new praetorium built on the axis of the 1st c. principia, have been investigated.
The 4th c. fort had three concentric ditches (8 m wide)
in the area of the 1st c. E wall, barring off the tip of
the spur between the Aare and the Reuss. The topographical distinction between the vicus and canabae is
not clear as yet. The former was W of the legionary
camp, the latter surrounding it to the S and E. Buildings outside of but connected with the 1st c. fort include
an amphitheater (112 x 98 m; arena 64 x 51 m) with
stone retaining walls and earth and timber seating arrangements; a forum (138 x 122 m) with a rectangular
court surrounded on at least three sides by rows of small
rooms; an aqueduct, partly subterranean, which comes
from Birrfeld and is still functioning. The military cemeteries lay along the main roads, SW to Aventicum and NW to Augusta Raurica and Tenedo.
The dump at Vindonissa on the slope outside the N
wall (ca. 200 x 16 m, 15 m deep), used A.D. 30-100 by
the legionary camp, has produced remarkably well-preserved organic material such as wood, leather, ink, and plants. The Vindonissamuseum is in Brugg.
R. Laur-Belart, “Vindonissa, Lager und
Vicus,” Römisch-Germanische Forschungen
with bibl.; E. Ettlinger, RE
IX A (1961) 82-105; H. R.
Wiedemer, “Der Stand der Erforschung des römischen
Legionslagers Vindonissa,” Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte
53 (1966-67) 63-77MPI
; C. M. Wells, The German Policy of Augustus
(1972) 49-53; museum: C. Simonett, Führer durch das Vindonissamuseum
(1947); reports & summaries: AnzSchweiz; ZSchwAKg; Jber. Gesell. Pro Vindonissa
(1942-); Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f.
passim & bibl. 54 (1968-69) 85-86; 56
(1971) 231; 57 (1972-73) 345; Veröffentlichungen der
Gesellschaft Pro Vindonissa
V. VON GONZENBACH