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Auxiliary Barracks in a New Light: Recent Discoveries on Hadrian's Wall Author(s): N. Hodgson and P. T. Bidwell Source: Britannia, Vol.

35 (2004), pp. 121-157 Published by: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies Stable URL: Accessed: 06/12/2008 10:50
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is directed thatattention typesanddirected awayfromfortsizes andRichmond ... it is desirable andstables... theneedformorework theirbarracks of forts,particularly to the internal anatomy is clear.1 on theseproblems fifteen years in excavations at the British northernfrontierforts of South Shields and Wallsend (complemented by a pair of barrackspartially excavated at Vindolanda in 1980 which have already been published).2 Its purpose is to disseminate more generally the fact that this newly obtained information changes our understanding of several aspects of the construction, function, and historical evolution of auxiliary barracks.It also tells us something more than we knew before about changes in the army as the institution that used the barracks, and of the life of the military communities that inhabitedthem. In some cases the buildings described here have already been fully published, or publication is imminent; in others, interimplans have been made available in disparate publications but it is likely to be a number of years before complete detailed excavation reports are issued. The material is thus drawn together into a convenient overview which summarises the conclusions that have been drawn from this body of information. Before introducingthe evidence, it is necessary to set the scene by outlining the conventional view of the way barrackaccommodation was organised.

his paperprovidesan interimreporton sixteen completebarrack plans obtainedin the last

In spite of their being the most numerous building type to be found in Roman forts and fortresses, large-scale excavations of barracksusing moderntechniques have been very few, and our knowledge of them has remained remarkably poor. The text-book illustration of a barrack of the first three centuries A.D. is still based largely on nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuryplans. The excavation of the fortress of Neuss (Lower Germany) in 1887-19003 produced the first complete legionary barrack plans, of exactly the same type as those later found at Caerleon (1927-29). Legionary barracks revealed in the intervening years at Lauriacum (Noricum)4 and Lambaesis (Numidia)5 had rather different layouts, hinting at a potential for variety in barrack-planning,but these were neglected in favour of the more 'typical' model provided by Neuss and Caerleon. It was not until the 1960s that furthercomplete plans were revealed at Nijmegen (Lower Germany), and in recent times there have been no large-scale excavations using modem techniques. The same is true of auxiliary barracks, where for stone buildings the most complete well-known plan is still that recovered at

1 2 3 4 5

Breeze and Dobson 1969, 30. In addition ten further barracks (two Antonine, eight fourth-century A.D.) at South Shields have been sampled. Koenen 1904, general plan: pl. 3. von Groller 1907. Cagnat 1908; 1913.

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Chesters on Hadrian's Wall (c. 1889-94).6 Where there are extensive published plans of timber auxiliary barracks, with some exceptions (such as Valkenburg and Heidenheim), only subsoil cut features have survived, and there has been a tendency to reconstruct 'typical' plans from fragmentary observations, as at Fendoch, Inchtuthil, or Rottweil.7 In 1955 Richmond attemptedto use fort sizes and barrackarrangementsto define a series of typesites matching the known types of auxiliaryunit.8This particularissue is not considered in detail in the present article, although one 'type' - the fort plan for a cohors quingenaria equitata - is decisively established by discoveries at Wallsend and South Shields described below. Richmond's brief study drew detailed responses from Breeze and Dobson,9 and Hassall,o1which studied a range of auxiliary fort plans in an attempt to discover 'the basic principles governing the size and dimensions of forts and the barrackand stable accommodation'. By looking closely at the evidence then available, these studies began to draw attention to 'exceptions' to the rules that Richmond had laid down: realising, for example, that not all barracks contained the 'correct' number of contubernia, and that there were cases where 'single' barrackswere split into two parts, as at Birrens. Interpretationwas still hamperedby the ratherskeletal nature of the evidence available,"1and largely accepted the general view of the morphology and function of infantrybarracksestablished c. 1900 and of cavalry barracks currentsince the 1940s. The same is true of impressive general studies of barrackblocks published in the 1980s by Johnson12and Davison.13The last, especially, illustratedthe huge variety that might be expected in the archaeology of barracks,although it was based on often fragmentaryevidence and its conclusions on the working of barracksand stables sat comfortably with earlier interpretations.That new perspectives may be offered now is not because previous researchersfailed to see problems and think hard about the issues; it is really because we are fortunateenough to have obtained a range of complete plans of barracks,area-excavated using modem techniques, that was not available twenty years ago. An attempt will now be made to summarise the 'orthodox' view of barracksand their functions that one would still find in most text-books. According to this, barrackblocks in forts and fortresses are essentially a permanentrealisation of the tent arrangementfor a century described by Hyginus in the context of a temporarycamp. The individual tents for contubernia of eight men have become partitionedrooms, and at one end of the building, taking up something between one quarterand one third of the length of the block, is the accommodation for the officer-in-charge, correspondingto the centurion's tent in the Hyginian scheme. The individual contubernia are divided into back and front portions, corresponding to the tent (papilio) of Hyginus, and the area in front (arma) for stacking equipment, and presumed to have similar functions of accommodation and storage. A barrackfor an individual century (consisting of 80 men) should therefore in theory contain ten contubernia. With cavalry, the situation has to be different, for a troop (turma) numbers some 30 or 32 men ratherthan 80. The presumption has been that the mounts were accommodated in separate stable buildings, and that the most likely arrangementwould have been for the men of two turmae to share

6 Bruce 1889, 374-7; plan publicised by Blair (1895) and by Ward(1911, 99-102). 7 Of the series of auxiliary barrack plans collected by Johnson (1983, 169), all are incomplete or heavily restored except for Valkenburg 1. 8 Richmond 1955. 9 Breeze and Dobson 1969; 1974. 10 Hassall 1983. 11 'Although the wall has been intensively studied for years in only four forts have barracksbeen completely excavated (Benwell, Halton Chesters, Housesteads and South Shields) ...' (Breeze and Dobson 1969, 25). The evidence was even more meagre than this statement allowed: at these four sites (with the possible exception of Housesteads) the barrackplans were not revealed in detail. 'Complete excavation' in the sense of an area excavation of all surviving deposits had yet to occur on the northern frontier. 12 Johnson 1983, 166-82. 13 Davison 1989.



a barrackblock.14 In this view the barrackmight be expected to have fewer contubernia than an infantry example: with eight men per room, eight contubernia would have sufficed for the 64 men who might make up two turmae. Sometimes it has been suggested that the cavalrymen were given more space than the infantry,with only six men per room, which would give a barrackfor two turmae the same ten contubernia as an infantrybarrack.'5There would, of course, have been two decurions (the troop leaders, equivalent to infantry centurions) to house. It has been claimed that a decurion's house occurs at both ends of some cavalry barracks, and it has been supposed that sometimes the two decurions must simply have shared an end-building. This, then, is the view of the barracks of the Principate presented in innumerable publications, despite the studies of Breeze and Dobson, Hassall, Davison and others, which suggested that there might be a greater variety of barracktypes and arrangementsthan usually recognised. More recently on Hadrian'sWall, barrackswere the focus of excavations at Housesteads (in 1959 and the 1970s), and loomed large in work at Wallsend (1975-1984).16 Neither did anything to alter the model outlined above, at least for the High Empire. This was primarily because the excavators expended most of their analysis on the latest remains to be encountered, barracks of apparently distinctive late Roman type (the so-called 'chalet' barracks, thought at the time of discovery to representan essentially fourth-centuryarrangement),whose remains impeded investigation of their second-century predecessors. Although arousing much interest, this novel later Roman form of barrackfell outside the scope of the studies of Johnson and Davison, which did not extend into the late Roman period. At Wallsend, where it is now known that the preservationof the second-century barracksis relatively good, the plans published in the 1970s and 1980s17were heavily reconstructed from observations made in the very limited excavations of the earlier Roman levels, which were sampled using 'key-hole' trenches. A legacy of these campaigns has been the widely accepted conclusion thatthe model barracksof the Principatehad come to be replaced by less formally planned 'chalets', for inhabitantsmuch reduced in numberand no longer entirely military in character,in the late third or early fourth century A.D. (the period sometimes specified as 'Diocletianic').

Here the completely excavated barracksto be considered are listed in chronological order, ranging from the Hadrianicperiod to the fourthcentury A.D.As well as the complete plans from the Tyneside sites, a partially excavated barrack at Vindolanda which has many points of close comparison is included. For the sake of clarity the numbersgiven to the examples are also used to label individual plans in the figures, and when the illustrationsare cited both example and figure numberare given. Numbers are subdivided into A, B, etc. if more than one phase of a given example is illustrated.
FIG. 1) and partly converted into stone after c. A.D.

1. Wallsend: two barracksin the retentura. These were built in timber in the Hadrianic period (lA, 160 (1B, FIG. 1). Each possessed nine contubernia. They remained in use, without alteration of their layout, until the early to mid-third century A.D. Excavated 1998. Published in Hodgson 2003.

14 First suggested by Richmond (Simpson and Richmond 1941, 25-30). 15 Breeze and Dobson (1969; 1974) realised that there were barracks that did not sit well with these long-standing interpretations,drawing attention, for example, to presumed cavalry barrackswith nine contubernia at Benwell. 16 Wilkes 1961; the later work at Housesteads and Wallsend remains unpublished, but see Daniels 1980 and the recent re-excavation of the Wallsend buildings reported in Hodgson 2003. 17 e.g. Daniels 1989, figs 39-40.










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1. 1. Wallsend, BarracksIX and XII in the retentura: 1A: timber, Hadrianic; IB: stone, c. A.D. 160. 2. South Shields, BarrackB6 in the retentura:2A: timber, c. A.D. 160; 2B: stone, c. A.D. 180/200. Scale 1:500.



2. South Shields: two barracksin the retenturaof the Period 4 (second-centuryA.D.) stone fort. These were first built in timber, originating c. A.D. 160 (2A, FIG.1; only one barrackshown), and rebuilt, with partial use of stone, before the end of the second century (2B, FIG.1). Again there were nine contubernia. The barrackswere demolished on the eve of Septimius Severus' British expedition, c. A.D. 208. Excavated 2000-1. Not yet published in detail. 3. South Shields: six buildings providing barrack accommodation in the east quadrantof the fort as extended and converted into a supply-base (3A, FIG.2). Their construction is closely dated to the period of the Severan campaigns in Scotland (Period 5B). Each separate building contains four contubernia and a fifth suite, in three cases separated from the contubernia by a stone partition (in contrastto the timber partitions generally used). These buildings have been interpretedas three complete barracks,each split into two halves. Their end-suites are of unequal size, suggesting that in each pairing the larger was for the centurion, the


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smaller for the presumed junior officers of the century, perhaps a signifer and optio.18 The only alternative to the 'bipartite' barrack interpretationwould be to see these as the barracks of six different centuriae, each possessing only four contubernia. This would fail to explain the differing sizes of the end-suites, and would be without any kind of parallel. If the centuries were all reduced
18 Valkenburg I (c. A.D. 40) provides a parallel for barracks split into two halves in this way. The excavators there coined the term 'bipartite barracks'(Glasbergen and Groenman-van Waateringe 1974, 8-12). At Valkenburgthe two halves of the pair face each other across a street. At South Shields there are two possible ways to interpret the 'pairings'. The most north-easterly building (VIII), nearest to the fort rampart, faces out towards the intervallum road. If its 'pair' was the adjacent Building IX, this would suggest that in contrast to Valkenburg the two halves of the South Shields barracks were placed back to back, facing away from each other, and that the pairs would therefore be VIII/IX, II/X, and III/I. However, it is equally possible that Building VIII was paired with Building I, which would allow the other two pairs to be formed by buildings facing each other across streets. It is true that the end-suites in II and X, one of which should be for a centurion and the other for junior officers, whichever reading is adopted, are of approximately equal size, but then scrutiny of the whole plan shows great variation in the sizes of all contubernia and officers' suites in these particular barracks. The large size of the end-suites of III and VIII compared with the small provision in I and IX remains the most striking characteristic.



to only four contubernia, would six centurions really have been retained to command the remaining men? It is also possible to see why the barracks may have been arranged in this unusual way. In theory in this quadrantof the fort it would have been possible to build three (or more) complete barracksper scamna (south-west/north-east), perpendicularto the via praetoria. But there seems to have been a reluctance to have streets opening directly on to the via praetoria, which, in the initial phase of building of this period, had been lined with elaborate kerbs, suggesting that it had a ceremonial significance. A stone building of unknown purpose, the only one to be built in this part of the fort in the aborted original plan of the supply-base, later converted into Barrack III, backed onto the via praetoria, its doorways giving no access to that road. When our six half barrackswere inserted into this quadrantit looks as if it was decided that the shell of Building III had to be retained (it had one of the barracksinserted into it), and that there should be no access from the barracksonto the via praetoria. Although full-length barrackscould in theory have been built running south-west/ barracksof over 40 m in length into north-east,it was impossible to fit north-west/south-east-running the space available, which was constrainedby the supply-base granariesto the north. Thus the only way to fit three complete barracksinto this quarterof the fort was to divide them into pairs. If this interpretationof the buildings as three barracks, each divided into pairs, is accepted, this gives eight ordinary contubernia in each pair of buildings or single barrack,or nine if the 'junior officers' suite' is included. The construction was part stone/parttimber, and the timber portions were rebuilt during the life of the barracks,which remained in use until c. A.D. 225-235 (Period 5B/6A). Between c. A.D. 210 and c. A.D. 225 (Period 6A) one of the buildings had to be demolished to make way for a new principia, and its accompanying 'half' was enlarged to accommodate the displaced troops (3B, FIG.3). Excavated 1986-1999. Not yet published in detail; for an interim report see Hodgson 2001. 4. South Shields: a series of barracks replacing those just described, not much later than c. A.D. 225-235 on the evidence of the pottery from their earliest occupation levels and the demolition levels of the preceding period. Their period of occupation witnessed several episodes of structural alteration (although not in general plan) and came to an end in the late third or early fourth century A.D. Complete plans of four barrackswere recovered; fragmentsof a fifth can be confidently restored on the basis of the others, and there were indications that a sixth may have occupied the south-east rampartarea (4, FIG.4). The most striking feature of these barracksis that each contains only five contubernia:on the other hand, their centurions' end-buildings are equally sized and well-appointed, so it is not possible to interpretthese as barrackssplit and arrangedinto paired halves. Excavated 1986-1999. One of this series of barracks was reconstructed in situ in 2000-1, using authentic materials, the design being based on the excavated evidence then available from South Shields and from comparable buildings in forts elsewhere in the Empire. The reconstruction is on permanent display at Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields (FIG.5). The excavations of these barracksare not yet published in detail; there is an interim account in Bidwell and Speak 1994, 25-6. 5. Vindolanda:part of a pair of barracks,arrangedback-to-back in the praetentura of Stone Fort 2 (5, FIG.6). The barrackscan be closely dated to c. A.D. 235. An officer's house and two contubernia of each barrackwere revealed. The space available for the unexcavated portion of the barracks is established (and confirmedby the excavation of the praetorium adjacent to the south in 1997-9819) and the buildings can therefore be restored with confidence as having had a total of five or six contubernia in each barrack.The possibility that these back-to-back buildings represent a single 'bipartite'barrackhousing one century can be excluded. The known garrison, cohors IV Gallorum, possessed six centuries and four turmae, but the whole fort only has space for four back-to-back

19 Birley et al. 1999.














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barracksof this kind plus four other single building plots. On the other hand, if each back-to-back pair of barrackshoused two centuries, the fort could have held six centuries and still have had the four building plots necessary to accommodate the turmae, and two plots left over for workshops or stores. In addition, at least one possible stable in the rampartspace is known at Vindolanda.20In the light of what is said below about cavalry mounts being housed in barracks, this was probably for pack animals. The excavated barracks remained in use, with various structuralmodifications but the same general layout, for the remainder of the third and fourth centuries A.D. Excavated 1980. Published in Bidwell 1985.
20 Bidwell 1985, 72-4.




The in-situ reconstructionof one of the barracksin example No. 4, South Shields.

6. Wallsend: barrackin left retentura, built in stone after A.D. 225 but not later than the mid-third 6). There are apparentlyfive contubernia. It is not certain how long the building centuryA.D.(6, FIG. retainedthis form; there were major changes in the fourth century, but, because of poor preservation of the latest levels, these remainobscure. This building was excavated by Charles Daniels in 1977-79 and interpretedas a 'chalet row'. The plan offered here takes into account discoveries made during the complete re-excavation of the remains in 1998. Published in Hodgson 2003. 7. Wallsend:pair of back-to-back barrackswith five contubernia in the right retentura, of the same date and structural history as No. 6 above (7, FIG.6). This also represents a revised version of remains originally planned by Charles Daniels in 1977-79, interpretedby him as two 'chalet rows'. For the same reasons discussed in the case of the back-to-back barrackat Vindolanda, this cannot be interpretedas a single 'bipartite'barrackwith ten contubernia. Re-excavated in 1998. Published in Hodgson 2003. 8. Wallsend:barrackof detached timber contubernia built immediately south of granaries,i.e. in the left partof the central range, facing onto the via quintana. Three contubernia survived at the eastern end. The rest of the complex was poorly preserved, but can plausibly be interpretedas two more contubernia and an officer's house, giving a total of five contubernia (8, FIG.6). There was probably a matching barracksouth of the commanding officer's house on the right side of the fort. Of about the same date as Nos 6-7, and demolished by the late third or early fourth century A.D. Formerly interpretedas 'strip-houses' of the late fourthcenturyA.D.;21recognised as a third-centurybarrackin the re-excavation of 1998. Published in Hodgson 2003.

Daniels 1989, 82-3.







FIG. 6.

5. Vindolanda:pair of barracksinpraetentura of Stone Fort 2, built c. A.D.235. 6. Wallsend:barrackin left retentura, built c. A.D. 225/35-250. 7. Wallsend:pair of barracksin right retentura, built c. A.D. 225/35-250. 8. Wallsend: barrackof detached timber contubernia built c. A.D. 225/35-250 in the left latus praetorii, facing onto the via quintana. Scale 1:500.



9. South Shields: in the east quadrant, a barrack built as part of the complete replanning of the fort in the late third or early fourth century A.D., and most probably between A.D. 286 and 318. It remained in use throughoutthe fourth century,with the plan as presented here (9, FIG.7) essentially unchanged until around A.D. 370. This is one of a complement of ten new barracks,each with five contubernia. Eight of these were inserted into the former granariesof the third-centuryA.D. supplybase, and, although none has been excavated as comprehensively as the east quadrantexample, the plans of several are extensively known and the overall arrangementof barracksin this period can be reconstructedwith confidence (10, FIG.7). Excavated 1986-88. Not yet published in detail. This amounts to some sixteen total excavations of individual barracksites, and that is not to count complete rebuildings (as in conversion from timber to stone, or later rebuilding from the foundations up to the same general plan, as happened at Vindolanda). 'Back-to back' arrangementshave been counted as a single example, as have the two elements of the 'bipartite'barracks.The information is drawnnot from a single fort, but from three, and the whole period of occupation on Hadrian'sWall is represented.It would be surprisingindeed if these additions to our hitherto small sample did not help us see certain aspects of barracksin a clearer light. The most importantof these revelations will now be considered in turn. First, there is the question of the organisation of cavalry barracksand stables; secondly, detailed aspects of planning and use; thirdly, construction techniques; and finally, changes to barracksin the later Roman period, the question of 'chalets', and the implications of these changes for the kinds of communities living in the barracks. In what follows, in the context of Wallsend, South Shields, and Vindolanda, 'stone construction' means construction of foundations (not necessarily the whole superstructure)with roughly dressed coursed rubble,predominantlysandstone. There is no detailed discussion of the plans of the officers' houses of any of these barracks, which in some cases are among the most complete auxiliary examples to be discovered: the findings relating to the accommodation of auxiliary centurions and decurions are held over and are intended to be the subject of a future paper.

At first sight it was only the presence of nine ratherthan ten contubernia that was unexpected in the second-centuryA.D.barracksin the retenturaat Wallsend. Otherwise they were arrangedas the textbooks would suggest, and as Daniels had reconstructedthem. But from 1998 the first area excavation of these buildings, and their counterpartsin the retenturaof the second-century fort at South Shields, revealed that each of the contubernia contained, in its front room, a centrally placed, elongated pit, some 3 m long and 0.80 m wide. Correspondingto each front room pit was a hearthin the rearroom, centrally placed and set up against the longitudinal partition(1-2, FIG.1). The pits were permanently constitutedwith stone linings and cover-slabs when the buildings were replaced in stone later in the second century. Observations at Wallsend suggest that all four barracks in the retentura possessed exactly similar arrangements,and this is now proved in the case of South Shields. Although not hitherto seen in stone, this disposition of features inside the rooms was immediately recognised as exactly resembling that found in certain Roman fort buildings on the Continent, most notably at Dormagen in Germania Inferior.22At Dormagen irrefutable environmental evidence showed that horses had been stabled there. Such pits were covered, first by boards (examples survive at the continental sites), later by stone slabs (surviving in situ at both South Shields and Wallsend), arrangedwith narrowgaps so that urine would collect in the pit below ratherthan accumulate on the stable floor. How often the pits were opened for cleaning or maintenance remains unknown, but lime was certainly used within these pits as an agent to neutralise the waste.
22 Muiller1979.



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FIG. 7. 9. South Shields:in the east quadrant, a barrack built as partof the complete replanningof the fort in the late thirdor early fourthcenturyA.D.,most probablybetween A.D.286 andA.D.312. Scale 1:500. 10. South Shields in periodc. A.D.286/312-c.350, with complementof ten new barracks(nine visible on this plan, the tenth representedby Building C18, observed in 1875).



Such buildings, only ever revealed fragmentarily,have usually been viewed as stables,23 with accommodation for grooms, or at best as some exceptional type of cavalry barrack. However, the buildings at Wallsend and South Shields are not stables, but, as the plans revealed in their entirety show, barracks of otherwise utterly conventional type, complete with end-buildings for officers, and taking up the whole accommodation space in the retentura. They demonstrate that cavalry mounts were accommodated in the same buildings as their riders. It ought to be stressed that it is not environmental evidence from the Tyneside sites that demonstrates their function, for the soil conditions were not suitable for the preservationof organic remains. But finds of military equipment, pieces of horse harness and cavalry gear in the buildings, and phosphate analysis at Wallsend, suggest the presence of both soldiers and horses. Above all the case rests on the exact analogy with other buildings unequivocally associated with stabling. Should we suspect these buildings of being anomalous? Not when they occur, unchanged over such a long period of time, at two Hadrian'sWall forts, and when no fewer than nine certain and ten possible parallels can be assembled from forts in the German provinces, Raetia, Pannonia, Dacia, that one day combined stables and Britain.24 Many of these were spotted by Sommer who predicted25 and barracksof this kind would turn out to be the standardform of accommodation for cavalry, and whose view has been vindicated by the plans obtained at Wallsend and South Shields. Sommer has coined the term 'Stallbaracken' ('stable-barracks')for this type. Most of the parallels are Flavian or later in date, but examples in late Tiberian or Claudian Augsburg, and at pre-Flavian Usk, suggest that the stable-barracktype was currentearlier in the first century A.D. Each of the front rooms (3.60 m, or twelve Roman feet, square in the Hadrian's Wall forts and several of the parallel sites) would have been able to accommodate three horses. This is cramped by modern standards,but perfectly possible: archaeozoological studies have shown horses used by the Roman military to be smaller (ranging from 12.7 to 14.9 hands) than their modern equivalents, and the resulting width of stabling space for a single horse - 1.20m - is paralleled in late Roman buildings (pilgrimage hostels?) at Thbessa, and at the Byzantine fort at Timgad, both in North Africa. Nor, except overnight or in the direst weather or emergencies, need the horses have been kept for long periods in these stalls: like the soldiers, they would have been out every day on duties, exercises, or operations. When they were inside the fort, they were by their rider and available for instant deployment, a military advantage that would be completely lost if the cavalry mounts were stabled or corralled elsewhere. In each rear room, therefore, slept three troopers, and it can immediately be seen that a text-book barrackwith ten contubernia would have neatly housed the strength of about 30 men and horses which an auxiliary troop or turma is known to have possessed. In fact the numberof stable-barracks in a fort corresponds directly with the number of turmae in garrison. With this realisation the view favoured since the 1940s, that mounts were kept in separate stables, and that the men of two turmae - 60 in all - would be accommodatedin a single barrack,must be abandoned,and we can suddenly understandwhy it has been so difficult to recognise a standardtype of stable in auxiliary forts. There had, of course, always been difficulties with the view that a barrack housed two turmae of men, with the horses elsewhere: the two decurions, for example, would have had to have shared a house. (Although Heidenheim is sometimes cited as an example of a barrackwith a decurion's house at either end, the plan of the remains actually gives no warrantfor this restoration.) This newly recognised type of stable-barrackdid not function in the way imagined by Peter Connolly in his reconstruction based on a building at Oberstimm.26There, a combined stable and
23 Dixon and Southern 1992, 191. 24 The parallels are listed, with a fully referenced study of the comparable ancient stabling arrangements referred to below, in Hodgson 2003. 25 Sommer 1995. 26 Connolly 1988, 16-17.



barrack is envisaged, but no communication between the two: to get to the horses a soldier would have to leave the building by the rear and go all the way round to the front. At both Wallsend and South Shields there is clear evidence of a door (it is explicitly known that one South Shields example was hung on a pivot) leading from the front (horses') to the rear (men's) room. Furthermore,in the several cases on the Continentwhere such stable-barracksare placed back to back (e.g. Heidenheim, Moos-Burgstall) there can only have been access to the building, for both men and horses, through the front door. At the Tyneside sites the two doors are always aligned and, by the time of the use of stone in the constructionof the barracks,linked by a paved walkway. This cannot have been separated from the horses' stall by any permanently emplaced wall, which would have made it impossible to get the animals in and out through the front door (and indeed there is never evidence for any such wall); but some temporary,bail-like arrangementmay have been used to close off the area of human passage from the stall. The surviving stone front wall at Wallsend seems to rule out a second door in the frontage giving direct access to the stall from the street. The most likely arrangementof the horses is for them to have been tethered to the wall opposite the side with the walkway, so that they would have stood perpendicularly to the urine-pit below the floor, with their front and rear legs standing to either side of the pit. The horses would have to have been backed out of the stall, but that is quite possible. FIG.8 offers a reconstructionof the whole arrangement. The Hadrianic garrison of Wallsend is unknown, but the fort was certainly occupied by a cohors quingenaria equitata at a time when this barrackplan was still currentin the later second and earlier thirdcenturies A.D.27 Such a unit possessed six centuries (or six barracks'worth) of infantry,precisely the allocation found in the praetentura at both Wallsend and South Shields. The patternof barracks in the retentura of each fort appears to confirm once and for all that a cohors quingenaria equitata possessed four turmae of cavalry. Moreover, it is interesting to note that at both Wallsend and South Shields the cavalry of the unit had its own area of the fort and was separatedfrom the infantry.28 Much can be gleaned from the details of the stable-barracksat Wallsend and South Shields. Their nine contubernia can have held a maximum of 27 troopersand mounts, yet literaryand papyrological evidence consistently suggests a greater strength,28-30, for the turma.29One solution is to suppose that at Wallsend and South Shields two or three junior officers (principales) - duplicarius, sesquiplicarius, and perhaps vexillarius - must have been accommodated with the decurion in the end-building, which was a multi-roomed apartmenthouse with its own elaborate stabling and drainagearrangementssuited to about four horses.30This would bring the strength of the turmato 30 plus the decurion, well-supported by the written evidence. But the key point is that this would be the maximumpossible number,so 32 (derived from Arrian31) must be rejected in favour of 30 (suggested by Hyginus) as the strength of a turma, at least in a cohors quingenaria equitata on Hadrian'sWall


RIB 1299.

28 At both forts an unusually wide (15 m at Wallsend, 12 m at South Shields) via quintana lies immediately north of the cavalry barracks: this was perhaps intended for the exercise of horses or the assembly of mounted troops. Thus the entire retentura may have been reserved for the accommodation and movement of the cavalry contingent of the cohort. 29 The papyrological evidence for turma size was collected by Tomlin (1998). See Hodgson (2003, 86-90) for a comprehensive citation of the ancient written evidence for turma strength, and a summary of modern discussion of the size of the turma. In summary, the indications of the literary sources are: 32 (Vegetius 2.14, for a turma of legionary cavalry); 32 (Arrian, Tactica 18, an ala quingenaria of 512 divided by 16 turmae); 30 (Hyginus 27, reconstructed as saying that 120 troopers in a cohors quingenaria equitata were divided into four turmae). 30 There is no necessary contradiction between this suggestion and the observation that it would have been awkward for two decurions to share one of these end-buildings. The principales would require less space than a decurion and their presence need not be obviously reflected in the plan of the house, whereas if it had been shared by two decurions of equal status we would expect this to be archaeologically reflected in the ground plan, or for there to have been two houses. It has been suggested that, in the case of ten-contubernium infantry barracks (e.g. Housesteads), the principales must have been accommodated in the centurion's end (Wilkes 1961, 282). 31 See note 29.



FIG. 8.

Suggested reconstructionof internal arrangementsof a timber cavalry-barrack(Nos 1A and 2A). (Drawn by GrahamHodgson, with acknowledgementof earlier drawings by R Connolly andJ. Sailer)

in the second century A.D. It might be objected that the nine-contuberniumbarrackswere designed for less than a full turma, one contubernium, for example, being permanently outposted on watch or duties elsewhere. There are many instances of troops being posted away from base.32But it is, in fact, hard to find a clear parallel for barracksbeing constituted to reflect a remaining partial strength over such a very long period of time, as through the timber and stone phases at Wallsend and South Shields, when one would expect the numbers required for duties away from base to have changed
32 See the discussion by Breeze (1974, 144-51).



from time to time.33 Finally it should be noted that nine-contubernium cavalry barracks are also attested at other forts.34This interpretationof the ground plan leaves no space for the calones, or servants, which at least some cavalrymen, including those of the cohortes equitatae, are known to have possessed. The process of elimination would place them in the roof space (as suggested on FIG. 8). A furtherelement may prove to be part of the standardplan of the stable-barracks,or at least the earlier, timber-built examples. A regular series of pits, each square in shape and between 1.50 and 2 m across, lay outside the front of the South Shields barracksin the timber phase. In one case one pit lay in front of each contubernium, and a larger pit outside the decurion's house (2A, FIG.1). These were probably covered over with boards, and perhaps acted as soakaways for urine. They only operated during the earlier part of the barracks'life. Similar external pits have recently been found in excavations at Heidenheim (abandoned in the A.D. 150s). Such features suggest the tethering of horses outside the frontage of the barrack.The street areas at Wallsend were not excavated, so it is not certain whether they are present there. At South Shields the external pits were probably superseded by a stone drain running down the centre of the street, similar to the large one visible today between the exposed barracksat Chesters. This suggests that in some cases the provision of the external pits may have been a short-lived practice superseded by other arrangementswith the advent of stone construction. It will be interesting to see whether the external pits persisted as a feature of cavalry barrackson the German-Raetianfrontier, where it seems that barrackstended to remain in timber for much longer than on Hadrian'sWall. The 'stable-barrack'type apparently continued to be the standard form for the accommodation of cavalrymen and mounts during the third century A.D., as we see from examples at Wallsend and Halton Chesters discussed below.

A great benefit of this clearer understandingof cavalry accommodation is that, given sufficiently extensive excavation, it is now possible to distinguish between infantry and cavalry barracks. The vast majority of complete barracks excavated at South Shields, specifically Nos 3, 4 and 9 in the list above, of third- and fourth-centuryA.D. date do not possess the pits and hearths of the 'stable-barrack'arrangement,and this alone would now suggest that they are all infantry barracks. In addition, their internal partitions are arranged in a way that would have made it impossible to manoeuvre and accommodate horses.
33 The Scottish Antonine forts of Crawford and Birrens have too few barracks for their supposed garrisons, leading to the suggestion that this reflects the outposting of troops to the fortlets of south-west Scotland (Breeze 1977, 459). Unequivocal archaeological evidence for the absence of individual contubernia (as opposed to whole centuriae or turmae) is much harder to find. In the same review article Breeze suggested that the barracks at Birrens could not have contained more than eight contubernia and an officer's house. On this basis he asks: 'Is it possible that in addition to perhaps two or four centuries outposted, two contubernia from each remaining century were also on detachment duty?' But nothing is known of the internal partitions or exact number of contubernia in these barracks. A perceived shortfall in the number of contubernia in the barracks of Flavian Strageath has been explained by suggesting that the 'missing' troops were manning the Gask Ridge watch-towers (Frere and Wilkes 1989, 121-2). However here also the barrack plans are heavily reconstructed from observations in narrow excavation trenches and it is by no means certain what kind of troops they accommodated. In the High Empire the evidence, as it stands, for barracks with fewer contubernia than 'normal' does not seem strong enough to warrantthe conclusion that barracks were often built with a shortfall of contubernia to reflect the absence of detached men. In the case of cavalry barracks, where the allotment of three men to a contubernium has only recently been understood, there is of course no 'norm' from which a nine-contubernium barrack could be seen as deviating. Finally, why should the detachment of troops on duty be reflected in the number of contubernia at Wallsend and South Shields, when it evidently was not in some barrack plans from other Hadrian's Wall forts (Chesters, probably ten
contubernia; Housesteads, ten contubernia)?

34 As well as occurring at South Shields, Wallsend, and Benwell, examples with this number can be found at Oberstimm and the auxiliary fort at Carnuntum(Schtnberger 1978, 110-15, Abb. 53; Stiglitz 1997, 24, Planbeilage 1).



A corridoror passage running from the front door of each contubernium, and along one side of the front room (arma), was a characteristic noted and discussed by Bidwell in his excavations of the third-centuryA.D. barrack at Vindolanda in 1980.35 These side-passages, usually 1 m wide, are a consistent feature of all of the third- and fourth-centuryA.D. barracksexcavated at South Shields.36 The purpose of the passage is to allow access to the rearpapilio without going through the front

FIG. 9. One of the entrance passageways into No. 9, one of the fourth-centuryA.D. barracksat South Shields, looking in from street and showing the typical arrangementof threshold slabs in the three doors leading onto the passage. Front door in foreground, door of arma to left, door of papilio at end of passage. 1 m scale.

35 Bidwell 1985, 81-3. 36 For Richmond (1934, 96-7) the 1 m wide spaces suggested latrines or wash-rooms in suites of rooms for junior officers inserted into the granaries in the fourth century A.D. at South Shields; these 'suites' are now seen as perfectly normal contubernia, with side-passages.





0 25m

FIG. 10. 11. Fragmentaryplan of barrackat Lorch, on the outer limes of Upper Germany; in use at some time in the period c. A.D. 160-260 (after Stork 1988). 12. Late third- or early fourth-centuryA.D. barrackat Housesteads. 12A: as published in Wilkes 1961. 12B: as reconstructedin Bidwell 1991. Scale 1:500.

room: once the threshold of the front door is crossed, the passage leads to two more doors. One, immediately inside, leads left or right into the front room; the second, at the end of the passage, leads into the larger rear room. Bidwell found parallels for this arrangementat the legionary fortresses of Lauriacum(late second or early third century A.D.) and Lambaesis (second century A.D.), as well as at fourth-centurySouth Shields. Such side-passages had also been noted at Castellum I at Valkenburg (c. A.D. 40)37 and the Neronian legionary fortress at Exeter.38In addition we may cite instances at Oberstimm in Raetia,39in recently excavated barracksat the legionary fortress of Caerleon (second century A.D.),40at Lorch (11, FIG.10) on the outer frontier of Upper Germany (apparently second
37 38 39 40 Glasbergen and Groenman-van Waateringe 1974, fig. 3, Buildings 7 and 9. Salvatore and Simpson n.d., 16. Phase la/b, c. A.D. 40: Schdnberger 1978. Evans and Metcalf 1992, fig. 15.



century A.D.),41 and at the fortress of Carnuntum(late third or early fourth century A.D.).42 These examples show that the side-passages should not be thought of as a late development: they were present in legionary and auxiliary barracksby the mid-first century A.D. and may well have been the normal arrangement.Their absence from apparentlycomplete barrackplans may be accounted for, in earlier excavations, by difficulties in recognising timber walls, and in more recently recovered plans (Elginhaugh, for example) by slighter construction of the side-passage walls which may not have left a subsoil trace. At South Shields the two interior openings off the passage were definitely hung with doors in all periods. This is indicated by the presence of upright thresholds for the doors to close against, either of timber or of slabs of stone set deeply into the ground (FIG.9), while iron hook-and-bandhinges and pivot-stones are variously found in association with the doorways. The surface of the passage itself is usually of flagstones or compacted gravel and pebbles. Sometimes this is all that survives, the inner side wall leaving no trace. It is easy to confuse the flagged floors of true side-passages with the paved walkways described above, which ran, in rather similar fashion, along one side of the front stall of the stable-barracks.Paved strips in isolation should not be taken as evidence of sidehas been ruled out. Paving is visible running in from the front doors passages unless a stable-barrack of one of the displayed barracksat Chesters on Hadrian'sWall. Here, in what is probably a stablebarrack(because, with the exception of a few brief episodes, the fort was garrisonedby an ala), open One peculiarity at South Shields, confined walkways ratherthan passages are probablyrepresented.43 to one of the periods of barrackslisted above (3B, Period 5B/6A but not shown on the plan), remains to be noted: the presence beneath almost every passage-surface (in only certain of the barracks) of a stone-lined channel or drain, running out to join a street drain parallel to the barrackfrontage. These are not to be confused with the stone-lined 'urine pits' of the stable-barracks. At South Shields these drainsoccur unequivocally within the enclosed side-passages. Unlike the urine-pits they never occur in the centre of the contubernium,and in general are much narrowerand shallower. They were perhaps simply a device to counter a localised problem with surface water running into the barrack. Underfloordrainsalso occurred in two contubernia of one of the Vindolandabarracks,reconstructed in the later third century A.D.44 Finally, it should be noted that there are instances in Period 6A at South Shields where double-width passages are provided (in Barracks I and IX, 3B, FIG.3), which are 'shared' by the contubernia to either side: at the end of the 2 m wide passage were two separate doors opening to the left and right rearrooms, while doors immediately inside the front door opened into the front rooms in the usual way. An instance ratherlike this, where the two passages are still separated,but placed adjacent to one another, is seen in the two contubernia next to the centurion's house in the barrackat Lorch (11, FIG.10). The greatestvalue of the discovery of side-passages is that (if clearly distinguished from the paved walkways of the stable-barracks) they appearto provide a way of identifying infantrybarracks,for in the types of passage recognised to date it would not have been possible to move horses through the doors and into the front room; the passages have never occurred in combination with the urine-pits. It is still unclear what furthersignificance to read into the widespread or even general use of sidepassages in infantrybarracks.It is conceivable that, like other aspects of the barrack-plan,its origins lie in the arrangementsof the temporarycamp. Space must regularly have been left to allow passage past the equipment (arma) stacked in front of the contuberniumtent (papilio) and the pack animals (iumenta) tetheredbeyond the arma. Actual separationby a doorway might also imply that the front rooms were occupied, or accommodated special activities, ratherthan simply being used for storage, and there is furthernew evidence from South Shields which sheds light on these possibilities.
41 42 43 44 Stork 1988, 92-5. Kastler 2002, 606, Abb. 2. contra Bidwell (1997, 60) who illustrates this paving at p. 59, fig. 37. Bidwell 1985, 66-8.




There is evidence for the position of hearths in almost all of the barrackplans presented here. In Davison's words: 'The classic position for the hearth or fireplace, whether legionary or auxiliary, is in the papilio built up against the middle of the partition wall between papilio and arma '.45As we have seen, this is the almost invariableposition for the hearths of cavalry barracks.The semicircular plans of certain of the hearths in this position in the stable-barracksof Wallsend and South Shields but there is nothing suggest that they may have had some form of domed clay hood or superstructure, surviving to suggest that there was a chimney going up the wall (at Dormagen one of the hearths in this position actually still possessed the lower partof a flue or chimney lined with roofing tiles going up the wall).46 Indeed one of the semicircular hearths at Wallsend seemed quite detached from the partition. On the other hand, the Tyneside sites in general confirm that there was never any reticence about building hearths or fireplaces against walls of timber or wattle-and-daubconstruction. In the infantry barracksat South Shields there is more variation: while some occur in the classic central position, there is a tendency in the third-centuryA.D. barracks for the rear-room hearth to occur on the partition between front and rear immediately adjacent to the door leading from the passage, as if leaving room for something arrangedalong the remainderof the length of the wall. Nor were they invariablyplaced against walls: in a fourth-centuryA.D.barrackthere was a clear example of a stone-built hearth sitting at the centre of the rear room. At South Shields the infantry barracksof Period 6B, beginning c. A.D. 225-235 (4, FIG.4), consistently possessed hearthsor fireplaces in their front rooms, built by means of a semi-circularrecess cut into the masonry at the centre of the front wall. These were in addition to hearths of the usual flat stone emplacement type in the rear rooms. There has been some speculation that the recessed features in the front rooms may represent small enclosed bread ovens, but the intrusion into the wall implies the presence of a flue or chimney. The distinction is perhaps a subtle one: a fireplace intended to provide heat can also be used for cooking. Fragmentsof chimney pots or roof ventilators recovered from subsequent levels on this part of the site may possibly have come from the tops of the flues. South Shields is not the only instance of an infantrybarrackwith front-room hearths:they occur in exactly the same position (though up against a timber front wall) at Lorch (11, FIG.10).47 Although such regularprovision of front-roomhearthshas not been noted in the earlier third-century and fourth-century barracks at South Shields (individual instances do occur), these conspicuous front-roomfire-places, evidently used over a long period of time, do seem to establish one thing: that in these particularbarracksthe front rooms were not used merely, or even mainly, for the storage of equipment. At Lorch the excavator suggested that additional troops were housed in these rooms; at South Shields the finds (milling stones, a pestle and mortar set, bone-working residue) suggest that they were used for food preparationand other processes, but of course this reflects the situation when the Period 6B barracks were destroyed and does not rule out the possibility that the rooms were originally intended for accommodation. The possibility that in certain circumstances the front room was used by some kind of contuberniumleader should also be borne in mind, although such a post is wholly unattested in the Principate (but cf. the post of (h)exarchus, discussed below). In short, the discovery and study of furtherwell-preserved barracksuites should allow much more to be said about the use of space in these buildings than has been possible through the interpretationof a restrictedrange of plans exclusively in the light of the writings of Hyginus.
45 Davison 1989, 231. Miller 1979, 28. 47 Stork 1988.

work may bring to light new evidence, at present the barracks




considered here have little to offer on this difficult question. It ought to be emphasised that no really clear evidence has ever been recovered for furniturein barracksor the way that furniturewas arranged.Bunk-beds are often postulated on the basis of a number of small post-holes in a papilioroom at Heidenheim, defining areas of some 2 m by 0.80 m, 'probably the remains for bunk beds which originally lay opposite the fire-place and along the side walls'.48 However, bunk-beds may be an expectation based on modern preconceptions, and the evidence from Heidenheim is open to other interpretationsand too slight to warrantthe confident reconstructionof bunks. In any case, now that it is clear that such a room in a cavalry barrackwill have housed three, not six or eight, troopers (as explained above), there would have been no reason to have bunk-beds. A clue to the way in which the Heidenheim observations might be reinterpretedwas provided by one of the contubernia of the second-century A.D. cavalry barracksat South Shields. Here in the papilio there were slight traces of three raised stone-revetted platforms, about 1 m wide, running along the sides and the back wall. Could they possibly represent sitting or bedding areas for the three troopers, arranged (triclinium fashion) around the fireplace set up against the medial partition? Otherwise, despite clues offered by the positions of hearths, we remain very much in the dark about how the troops actually used the internalspace for living or sleeping.

Here the evidence of the Tyneside barracksis clear: the houses of the centurions and decurions were A number of pots were found set into often provided with latrines, the ordinarycontubernia never.49 the floor surfaces (often, but not exclusively, in the side-passage) of the contubernia of the third- and fourth-centuryA.D. barracksat South Shields. But these are too small to have functioned as urinals and would have been impossible to lift out for emptying. Some examples are closed with stone lids, and one pot contained a small beaker which suggested that it may have held drinking-water.The latrines in the officers' houses are not considered in detail here, but they are of various kinds, from a cut-down amphora in a late second- or early third-centuryA.D. decurion's house at Wallsend, to a stone chute leading out of the stone wall of the centurion's house of one of the barracks of c. A.D. 225-235 onwards at South Shields. An elongated pit in the centurion's house of one of the South Shields barracksof the preceding period was packed with lime, still containing the impression of the base of a pottery vessel that had been placed to collect waste. Often in the officers' houses at South Shields, where preservation is otherwise poor, the ground below floor level is riddled by drainage channels recut on many occasions: such features rarely occur in the contubernia. In some of the centurions' houses of the infantrybarracksof c. A.D. 225/235-c. 300 certain very large stone-lined features, filled with green silt and linked to channels running from the buildings, indeed resembling the stable-drain arrangements of the decurions' houses at Wallsend, may represent facilities for horses or people, and there is no way at present of telling which. Although Davison suggested the widespread use of latrines in barracks,50the majority of his examples were drawn from officers' ends: the cited examples of latrine pits in auxiliary contubernia could now be reinterpretedas horse-urine pits of cavalry barracks. at the Lunt and at Carrawburgh So the absence of latrine facilities in the contubernia at South Shields and Wallsend does not conflict with the evidence from other sites. At South Shields and Vindolandathe groups of third-centuryA.D. barracksdiscussed here were each accompanied by a communal latrine set into the fort rampart.So

48 e.g. Johnson 1983, 171. For the Heidenheim evidence see Cichy 1971, 27-8. 49 The smaller end-buildings in the Period 5B/6A barracksat South Shields (3A/3B), attributedhere to junior officers, also had latrines. Latrines were also provided in Barracks II and III of South Shields Period 6B (4), at the ends away from the centurions' houses, although not in the primary phase of construction. These suggest the possibility that as time went on these end-rooms came to be used by the principales of the centuries. 50 Davison 1989, 233-6.



unequivocal is the evidence that it seems likely that a regulation forbade the provision of permanent latrine facilities in the contubernia, certainly for the period before the fourth century A.D.

The plans of the cohors quingenaria equitata forts at South Shields and Wallsend, already discussed, as well as a numberof other well-known auxiliary fort and legionary fortressplans, make it clear that there were certainly occasions when bases were designed and built specifically to house the whole paper strength of a single unit. Nevertheless, it is now customary, on two grounds, to question the traditionalassociation of individual forts with whole unit garrisons. Firstly, even if a fort was built for a particularunit, it is thought that for most of the time all or part of it would be absent on active service. Much has been made of the description in the Vindolanda tablets of the fort at Vindolanda as 'winter quarters'.51Secondly, and also illustrated by the Vindolanda documents, parts of units could be detached to other places and changing patterns of detachments of several units might be accommodated at a single fort. Units could also have been maintainedbelow their paper strength. In the face of these facts, to what extent are barracksreally a reflection of everyday life? Were they in fact rarely or seasonally used, and did they stand empty for long periods? In the barrackslisted in this article finds and activities generally suggested otherwise. The stablebarrackswere actually used as such, as shown by the occurrence of lime in the urine-pits, the loss of horse-harness and cavalry equipment, and the careful maintenance of the facilities. In the thirdcentury A.D. infantry barracks at South Shields the emplacement of querns and storage vessels, the number of finds, and even occasional infant burials, suggested long-term occupation by settled groups permanently associated with each of the contubernia. A number of flagged floors were extremely worn. In one case a step leading from the side-passage into the front room had been worn hollow by the repeated action of stepping in and out of the room (this in a building probably used for a maximum of about 75 years). Such observations are of course subjective, and they do not rule out seasonal interruptions,or even periods when the unit may have been completely absent. The evidence from the Tyneside forts is in no way incompatible with the suggestion that milites and equites were permanentlyassociated with a given barrackroom and responsible for its upkeep, although it cannot prove that they were. As these forts (all second-century A.D. or later in date) held, like so many others, the garrisons of a permanentfrontier system, as opposed to belonging to an active and fluid period of campaigning, this should perhaps come as no surprise. The barracks of Periods 5B/6A (Nos 3A and 3B, FIGS 2-3) at South Shields offer an example of the complexities involved. These barracksare the only ones that we might associate with a period of active warfare, in A.D. 208-211. Interestingly, they may only provide accommodation for half of cohors V Gallorum. After being intensively occupied for about 20 years (although of course we cannot say whether continuously), and experiencing at least one general rebuildingepisode, the barrackswere demolished and replaced, apparently with accommodation for the whole unit, although with centuries of reduced size. But before this rebuilding one at least of the earlier barrackswas empty of troops for an unknown period, as part of it was being used for bronze-working on the eve of their demolition.

At both Wallsend (Hadrianic)and South Shields (mid-Antonine) the earliest barrackswere wholly of timber, with stone construction being introducedat a later date. The stone walls of the third-century A.D. barracks at both sites were largely of clay-bonded construction, and at South Shields in the

e.g. James 2002, 45, citing Tab. Vindol. II.225.



fourth century A.D. the barracks were entirely of mortared stone. This apparently straightforward development from timber to mortaredstone disguises the fact that, after their initial construction, at any given period the archaeological plan of a set of barrackscan take on a disordered appearance, with an untidy variety of constructiontechniques being used in the same set of buildings. Thus at both sites, the second-centuryA.D.cavalry barrackswere only partially replaced in stone: at South Shields the two barracksin the left retenturaalways kept frontages of timber,whereas their two counterparts in the right retentura were (from what has been seen to date) reconstructedwith all walls in stone. At Wallsend it was the other way round, with BarrackIX in the left retenturareceiving a stone front wall in contrastto BarrackXII where the front was always of timber (IB, FIG. 1). Variationslike this have been noticed before, but explained in a different way: at Slack a pair of stone barracksand a pair of wooden barrackssat side by side. The excavators assumed that a general reconstruction of the barracksin stone was in progress at the moment when the fort was abandoned.52 The evidence of South Shields and Wallsend suggests that not all of the barracksin a given fort need have had the same building history. The Severan barracksat South Shields (3A, FIG.3 and 3B, FIG. 4) display a mixture of construction techniques which surprises the eye accustomed to text-book barrack plans. Clay-bonded stone foundations are mixed with timber post-trench and beam-slot construction.The overriding principle seems to be that the rearwalls and end walls of the barracksshould be of stone construction, and the frontage and internal partitions of timber. But this is not rigorously adhered to: Barracks IX and X have timber end walls and the method of partitioningthe end-buildings from the contubernia is not uniform. The difference between stone and timber walls here could reflect the difference between the centurions' houses and those of the lesser principales, but the house built as a separate unit in Barrack I is surely just a random variation. Despite the variety of construction techniques, these barrackshave a clear sense of overall planning by an authority above the level of the individual contubernia. This is seen in the adoption of double-width shared passages in the rebuild of Barrack IX. The succeeding barracksof Period 6B at South Shields are more uniform in their construction techniques. In the best preserved cases it was noticeable, however, that the masonry of the front wall was in a separate style in each contubernium, each stretch of different style being separated from its neighbour by a door-opening. This could suggest that, once the foundation of the rear wall had been laid and the overall plan markedout, the individual contubernia were built by the soldiers who were to inhabit them. It may be significant that it is these front wall sections which contained a large numberof stones inscribedwith phalli - placed, for good luck, in individualcontubernia by builders who knew that they were to inhabit these rooms? A task allotment of this kind might also explain why the Period 5B/6A barracksat South Shields have stone rearand end walls and then an infilling of timber construction.An alternativeexplanation would be that the barracksof these periods at South Shields contained much re-used stone, readily available from the demolition of the previous period. Without a new quarrybeing opened, timber construction would be introduced when the supply of second-hand stone was exhausted. Whatever the reason, these examples show that excavators of barracksshould not expect construction technique and style to be consistent throughout. It is also salutory to note that, although their life was no longer than 20-30 years, the plan and phasing of the Period 5B/6A barracksat South Shields would have been impossible to reconstruct from selective trenching, even if they had existed in chronological isolation on a single-period site. Nowhere is inconsistency in construction technique more apparentthan in the third-centuryA.D. barracksat Vindolandaand Wallsend.At Vindolanda, from the small sample seen, the barrackswere originally built uniformly with clay-bonded stone exterior walls (and the party-wall shared with the adjacentbarrack)and internaltimberpartitions (5, FIG.6). Here, because two barracksare combined in a back-to-back arrangement,overall planning is evident, but interestingly the same variations

Dodd and Woodward 1920.



in construction style were evident from part to part.53In the second half of the third century A.D., however, random variations were introduced so that the frontages were of stone in places, timber in others. In BarrackIX at Wallsend (6, FIG.6), probably constructed by the mid-third century A.D., timber and stone construction seem to be indiscriminately mixed, and opposite this barrack is one of the same date (8, FIG.6) entirely of timber 'post-in-pit' construction. In the right retentura the contemporarybarracks(7, FIG. 6) are of different layout and constructedof clay-bonded stone. This is far from the picture of neat uniformity that most investigators would still expect of Roman barracks. It is also dangerous to place chronological significance on the choice of timber or stone in barrack construction. In Britain first-centuryA.D. barrackswere of timber, and there was an increasing use of stone in the second century. Nevertheless, at Ravenglass barrackswere reconstructedwholly in timber throughoutthe second, third, and fourth centuries A.D.54 Potter saw a distinctive use of postin-pit construction in the later fourth-century barracks at Ravenglass as characteristic of barrack construction at a late period, citing other examples from Maryport, Ribchester, and Chester. But at Wallsend (8, FIG.6) this technique occurs at a significantly earlier date than that ascribed to Potter's examples. There are, in fact, much earlier examples of post-in-pit construction in barracksat other sites; it was common in Antonine Scotland, and occurs in conjunction with stone building in some alterations to barracksof the Severan period (3B, Building I, FIG.3) at South Shields. Conversely, stone remained the predominantbuilding material for barracksat Vindolanda and South Shields in the third and fourth centuries A.D., whatever use was made of timber at some other sites. Again, the local availability of building stone for reuse, ratherthan any chronological trend, may be the key.

If walls were carried up from stone foundations in timber and wattle-and-daub construction, this might account for the seeming lack of consistency in using stone or timber, for above foundation level the walls would have the same external appearanceanyway. However, an importantdiscovery at South Shields casts doubt on the belief that stone walls in barracks in Britain and North-West Europe were almost always sills to carry a timber superstructure.55 Part of the front wall of one of the barracks constructed c. A.D. 225-235 at South Shields (4, Building II, FIG. 4) was found to have collapsed. The collapse had survived due to incorporationinto a subsequent street make-up. The surviving portion (FIG.11) represented at least 2 m of elevation - fourteen courses - and strongly suggests that the external walls of the barrackstood to full height in stone. The barracks in question were of clay-bonded construction, so the use of clay or mortar as bonding material in the foundations cannot be used as an indicator of whether a building stood to full height in stone. Indeed in the same period at South Shields the principia possessed walls of In the subsequent, fourth-centurybarracksat South Shields the stone clay-bonded coursed rubble.56 walls were mortared throughout and it seems highly probable that these too stood to full height in stone. For the earlier barracksat South Shields (2B, FIG.1) the sheer depth of clay and cobble foundations beneath the actual coursed rubble of the surviving stone walls suggests that here too the walls were carriedup in stone, even though the building frontage was timber.There is no reason why the second-century A.D. stone barracksat Wallsend (1B, FIG.1) may not have been entirely of stone. In the third- and fourth-centuryexamples at Wallsend (6-7, FIG.6) the mixture of stone foundations and timber post construction at foundation level may imply that the superstructurewas mainly of timber.57
53 Bidwell 1985, 58.

54 Potter 1979, 29-45. 55 See, e.g., Wilson 1980, 18; Davison 1989, 77. 56 For this see Bidwell and Speak 1994, 25. 57 In his report on Vindolanda Bidwell gave various reasons why a timber superstructureseemed more probable there (Bidwell 1985, 58-60).



FIG. 1.

Collapsed wall of one of No. 4 barracks,South Shields. The foundation of the collapsed wall is in the foreground, while the wall of the barrackon the opposite side of the street is visible at the top. 1 m scales.


In all periods of the South Shields barracks, the distribution of internal wall-plaster fragments, generally either plain white or painted red, is usually confined to the officer's end. No fragmentswith more elaborateor with figurative decoration have been recovered to date from the end-buildings. No wall-plaster comes from the contubernia, where surviving fragments of wall-lining suggest that the interiorswere given a plain lime whitewash, directly on top of a lining of clay (daub), whether the wall face was of stone or timber. As for external rendering, the only direct evidence was for the South Shields barracksof c. A.D. 225-235 (which were probably built to full height in stone). On the exterior of the front wall of one of these a covering of mud plaster was found in situ; this had been whitewashed. This sole instance should not be taken to mean that the use of mud plaster and whitewash rendering was uncommon, ratherthat it does not often survive and has rarely been archaeologically observed and recorded.

The stone walls of the second-century A.D. barracksat South Shields and Wallsend were generally constructed on foundations of clay and cobble or sandstone fragments in trenches up to 0.35 m deep. But a striking characteristicof the Severan (3A, FIG.2) and following (4, FIG.4) barracks at South Shields was the tendency to build the coursed sandstone rubble walls without any foundation directly on top of the construction dump or demolition level of the previous phase. In practice the lowest course or courses of these walls were often below the finished ground level, so that they acted themselves as a foundation;sometimes, however, contemporaryfloor surfaces and streets were



encountered with only a gap where once the lowest course of a stone wall would have rested.58The importance of this observation is not what it implies about the superstructureof the buildings; the collapsed wall of Period 6B at South Shields shows that such walls could have been built to full height in stone. It is ratherthat these walls show that entire plans of stone building could easily be robbed or destroyed and completely escape detection on even the most carefully investigated of archaeological sites. This could be an obvious problem with a limited evaluation trench, which might just happen to strike part of the building where no stone survives in situ. And what of sites where stone phases seem to be missing altogether, such as the (third-centuryA.D.) forts on the outer limes of Upper Germany and Raetia? Surprise has been expressed that the barracks in these forts seem That might well be the case, a product, say, of shortage of good local always to have been of timber.59 building stone. But it should be considered whether it is possible that a stone phase of the sort seen at South Shields (which would leave no foundation trenches penetratingthe timber levels) could have been removed by post-Roman ploughing.

If barrackshad commonly possessed an upperstorey which housed troops, all previous interpretations relating their plans to the size of the units that supposedly fitted into them would be invalidated. The completely recovered plans at the Tyneside sites provide no support whatsoever for this idea. In the contubernia there is absolutely no trace in any example of stairs providing access to an upper floor. The clearest refutationcomes from the discovery of the stable-barracksof second-century A.D. South Shields and Wallsend. Here an upper floor with the same arrangementas the lower is a stark impossibility. Rememberinghow neatly the structureof the cohors quingenaria equitata is reflected in the barracks- four for the turmae, six for the centuries - the conclusion is inescapable that in these circumstances the infantrybarrackswere also of single storey. The single-storey arrangement of contubernia would therefore seem to have been standard throughoutmost investigated Roman forts. There are of course exceptions. Mackensen has shown60 thatthere are good groundsfor thinkingthat the barracksin the late Romanfortificationat Eining were of two storeys. The situation here is quite different from the forts of the Principate,however, with the barracksbuilt against the strong defensive walls of this small enclosure and shortage of space in the interior demanding the exploitation of as much elevation as possible. There are also examples in the eastern provinces where barracksare provided with stairs. Again these occur in small, late castella where the barracksare built against the defensive wall, as at Qasr Bshir (Jordan). In the fortress of Lejjun (Jordan), free-standing barracksof the late fourth century A.D. were provided with external staircases, but these were probably for access to and maintenance of a flat roof which soldiers would have used for sleeping in the hot summer months.61There are also well-built staircases in the barracksof Qasr Qarun(Dionysias) in Egypt. In this ala fort there is the additional complication that horses may have occupied the lower-floor rooms and the men the upper.Again all but two of the barracksare built up against the outer wall of the fort. In short, where there is evidence of access to an upper floor in barracks,it is of the late Roman period and connected either with small, late kinds of fortification or with climatic conditions which did not pertain in Europe.62
58 Professor L.J.F. Keppie has pointed out to us that stone barrack walls in the Antonine fort at Birrens were built without any foundation courses (Robertson 1975, 33). 59 Sommer 1999, 190. 60 Mackensen 1994. 61 See Groot 1987, 285-6 for discussion and references to other eastern examples of staircases in barracks. 62 A further exception is the Castra Praetoria in Rome. Here multi-storey barracks, modelled on the urban insulae, seem to have been used, but were perhaps only provided as the Praetorian Guard and other inhabitants steadily increased in numbers while still having to be accommodated within the walls of the castra founded under Tiberius (Coulston 2000,




This does not mean that in the North-Westernprovinces use was not made of the roof space - this is the only possible place for the calones or grooms which in cavalry barrackswould have to live close by the troopers and their mounts, and in all types of barracksit would provide useful storage. Presumably it was reached via removable ladders, perhaps from outside the building. In one of the decurions' houses of the second-century cavalry barracks at South Shields there was a narrow corridor-likespace at ground level in the rear part of the house that appearedto lead nowhere. This would have been suitable for a fixed wooden stair leading to a roof space. It has been suggested that a narrow corridor-likeroom that appearsin some stable-barrack plans (e.g. Augsburg, Moos) between the officer's house and the contubernia may have housed steps providing access to the roof space.63 Care must obviously be taken to distinguish between this kind of use of an upper floor (for extra accommodation and storage) and a replication of the ground-floor contubernia, for which there is absolutely no evidence from the forts of the Principate.

When first discovered in 1977-79 the buildings at Wallsendillustratedhere (Nos 6 and 7, FIG. 6) were not interpretedas barracksin the normally understoodsense, but as rows of'chalets'. Theirexcavator, Charles Daniels, in a well-known paper,64associated the 'chalets' at Wallsend with similarly detached structuresmaking up rows at Housesteads, Greatchesters,High Rochester and elsewhere. The defining characteristicwas seen as a number,often five or six, of detached accommodation units, in a row, with a degree of irregularplanning, but also often a largerblock where formerly an officer's house might have been expected.65Daniels assigned a Diocletianic date to this new barracktype and proposed a connection with the abandonmentof the vici and the movement of soldiers' families into the forts, with consequent reduction in unit strength (there being, it was suggested, only one soldier and family per chalet) and decline in military order and discipline. This interpretation relied fundamentallyon the belief that the individual 'chalets' were crudely and haphazardlyconstructed,betrayinga decline in communal action undera single overall authorityand the growth of autonomy and individuality in the building and domestic arrangementsof individual contubernia. This view has been, and remains, deeply persuasive for a numberof writers, both on the question of late Roman unit size (see below) and of the style of life in late Roman forts.66

63 Sommer 1995, 164. 64 Daniels 1980. 65 Daniels (1980, 181) also postulated a type with a larger block at each end, of which Barrack IX at Wallsend was claimed as an example; the recent re-examination of the remains does not bear out this interpretation. 66 For the long-standing influence of this view see, e.g., James 1984, 165; Esmonde Cleary 1989, 58-9. The 'chalet' idea is decisively dismissed in more recent writing by Esmonde Cleary (2000, 89), responding to Bidwell 1991. Not all authorities accepted Daniels' thesis uncritically: for Breeze and Dobson (1987, 218), 'Unfortunately there is no clear evidence either to prove or disprove this proposal [that each chalet was occupied by a single family unit]'. Frere (1987, 334) was similarly lukewarm. Following the excavation of the barracks at Vindolanda (5, FIG.6 and FIG. 12) in 1980, Bidwell concluded (1985, 54) that 'Excavation may eventually show that other chalet rows are of earlier date than hitherto suspected, and that their irregularplans result from a series of alterations carried out over many decades of occupation': a conclusion entirely borne out by the material presented here. All the points made in the present article regarding the identification of 'chalets' as regular barracks of a type that emerged in the earlier third century A.D. were first made by Bidwell (1991). Amongst northern frontier specialists the idea of family units occupying barracks of the earlier fourth century A.D. is no longer widely held. Crow (1995, 88) has maintained that 'chalet barracks' where the individual contubernia have separate histories of maintenance and rebuilding occur in the Wall forts rather than at 'hinterland' sites like Vindolanda and South Shields, and reflect units of lower status. However, this view relies on the occurrence of such irregular 'chalets' at Wallsend, and these structures (Nos 6 and 7 here) are now known to be barracks of third-century A.D. date laid out to an overall design.



The barrackplans collected here do give actual examples of fourth-centuryA.D. barracks which were of course not available when Daniels wrote his 'chalets' paper. At South Shields (10, FIG.7) the picture is particularly clear: ten new barracks, each possessing a hypocausted officer's house, a workshop, five contubernia, and an unidentified room at the end away from the officer.67The contubernia are all provided with side-passages. Most of these barracks were converted from the redundant granaries of the third-century A.D. supply-base, but one example which had to be constructed de novo has been completely excavated (9, FIG.7). It was built as a continuous block to exactly the same dimensions as the granary examples, with mortaredexterior walls and internal partitions of clay-bonded stone. At Vindolanda the barrackexcavated in 1980 (5, FIG.6), although originating in the first half of the third century A.D., saw rebuildings, to much the same general plan, throughto the later fourthcentury.In the plan currentaroundthe A.D.330s, for example, contubernia in one barrackwere still divided front and back, with hearths in the classic position in the rear room. Two contubernia in the neighbouring barrack retained the side-passages as well as the front-rear division.68At both of these sites the number of contubernia is fewer (five or six) than in barracksof the first and second centuries A.D. However, it is clear that these were barracksplanned by a central authority,with contubernia of traditionalplan. Of great interest is the fact that several traits in the planning of these fourth-centuryA.D. barracks are paralleled both in the so-called 'chalets' and in barracks of earlier third-century date. At Vindolanda, the back-to-back pair of barracks(5, FIG.6) built c. A.D. 235 are constructedwith each of the six pairs of contubernia as a free-standing block. The detached form of the contubernia gives the Vindolandabuildings the appearanceof 'chalets', and in places they appearlike open-ended strip buildings that must have been closed off by timber screens, as at Housesteads. But at the same time the units are divided into front and rear rooms in the manner of contubernia, and the front rooms are 4) the salient bypassed by side-passages. In the barracksof c. A.D.225-235 at South Shields (4, FIG. feature is the possession of only five contubernia. As at Vindolanda, each contuberniumis divided into two rooms and a side-passage. At Wallsend the barracks now understood to originate in the period c. A.D. 225-250 provide a furtherexample. The re-examination carried out in 1998 showed Buildings XI and XII to a be pair of five-contubernium barracks sharing a common spine wall (7, FIG.6), while Building IX can be interpretedas a series of five contubernia divided by a spine wall into front and rear rooms, with an officer's house at the rampartend (6, FIG.6). At Wallsend the reconstructedplan of BarracksXI and XII finds its closest parallel at Vindolanda (5, FIG.6). The width of the barracksis identical (at 18 m: the contubernia at Wallsend are 9 m deep from frontage to centre of the principal spine wall). The length of the Wallsend barrackwas some 28 m for the five contubernia plus probably 14 m for the officer's quartersand the adjacent alley. At Vindolanda, five contubernia would have given an identical length of 28 m (although, as previously noted, the exact length of the barracks is as yet unknown) and the end-buildings for officers were 10 m long. In the Wallsend building plots, once imbued with much significance for understandingof changed conditions in the early fourth century A.D., it is now known that most of the fourth-centurylevels had been lost even before the 1970s. All these discoveries show that there is a type of building in the earlier third century A.D., which appears as a formally arrangedbarrackbut at the same time exhibits one or both of the principal features used to define 'chalets': a row of detached units (Vindolanda, Wallsend), five or six in number (Vindolanda, Wallsend, and South Shields). Whether or not the contubernia are built as separate units seems to be a matter of local exigency, without any profound meaning for the level

67 The hypocausts in the officers' houses are identified with certainty; there is no question of the stone-lined channels being drains. They were fired from furnaces in the adjacent workshops. They seem without parallel outside legionary fortresses, where some examples of hypocausts in officers' quarters are known (Davison 1989, 232).



1985, fig. 32.6.



of military organisation or discipline: 'The term "chalet" now seems redundant, for it refers not to a separate building type, distinguished functionally by its series of detached blocks, but to a variant method of construction which has no necessary connection with the use of the building'.69 Indeed even the Severan barracks at South Shields display elements that would have been seen as characteristicof 'chalets', especially Barrack I in Period 6A, with eavesdrip alleys between its constituentblocks, timber frontages, and a reduced number of contubernia (3B, FIG.3). The irregularityof planning in the so-called 'chalet' rows may in fact have been illusory: this is certainly the case with Wallsend where (with the benefit of hindsight) coherent overall plans of the barracksin the retentura can be understood. At Housesteads it is possible that the rather irregular plans are the result of the extant remains representing several building phases at the same level.70 Most other 'chalet' plans are in old excavation reports on sites which were not dug stratigraphically. The barracksexcavated at Vindolanda in 1980 had been reconstructed to the same general plan on a number of occasions, a sequence which would have been difficult to untangle (and which first appearedas a chaotic superimposition of walls) but for a repeated raising of the building level to counteractsubsidence into soft ground.A plan (FIG.12) showing the walls of all phases superimposed does in fact resemble the irregularlooking jumbles which have been classified as 'chalet rows'.


FIG. 12. The various phases of the Vindolanda barrack,No. 5, FIG.6, superimposed. Scale 1:500.

Although it might be argued that the term 'chalet' continues to serve a purpose as a concise technical description of a contuberniumdetached from its neighbours, the third- and fourth-century A.D.barrackblocks considered here show that constructionof contubernia as detached stripbuildings is not in itself of any historical significance. In any case, the term is rarely used with such precision. Instead, it still signifies an expectation of fourth-centuryirregularity.The word has recently been used indiscriminately in site reports and geophysical surveys to label any late barrackwhose plan cannot be understood or which deviates from the classic first- and second-century A.D. model. The continued use of the term hinders a general appreciation of innovations that were being made in
69 Bidwell 1991, 11. 70 Bidwell 1991 and 1997, 62-3 for an attempt to reconstruct a sequence of development from the published plans of 10 as reconstructed one of the Housesteads barracks. 12A, FIG.10 here shows the barrackas published by Wilkes, 12B, FIG. by Bidwell.



barrack design from the Severan period. These developments, although of doubtless historical significance, did not always involve the building of contubernia as free-standing units. Furthermore, true irregularityin barracks,when it did make an appearance,may have been a phenomenon of the later fourth century A.D. (see below) ratherthan the Tetrarchicperiod.

In the 1960s, following the discovery of the later style barracks at Housesteads, both Wilkes and Birley suggested71 that the reduction in the number of contubernia meant that there had been a correspondingreduction in the size of the century in the later third century A.D., a view revived by Bidwell but for the earlier third century.72The five-contubernium barracks of c. A.D. 225-235 at South Shields and Vindolanda, all of which contained side-passages and therefore almost certainly housed infantrymen, imply centuries of half of the notional second-century strength of 80, now numbering 40 or fewer. Barracks of five to seven contubernia may be discerned in a very few late Roman forts outside Britain, such as Eining (Raetia)73and Dionysias (Egypt).74But none of these is as early in date as the first half of the third century A.D. In fact, it has to be admitted that we do not know what barracksof the A.D. 220s or 230s elsewhere looked like, for, surprising though it may seem, hardly any complete plans of this ubiquitous building type have been recovered for that period using modem excavation techniques.75The evidence of the one unit of this period whose structure we know of in some detail from its archive found at Dura Europos - cohors XX Palmyrenorum - is at variance with that from Britain. In A.D. 219 at Dura, a strategically vital outpost on a frontier where war was threatening, centuries were double, ratherthan half, the second-century A.D. norm. Unfortunatelynothing is known of the accommodation of this unit. Why infantry centuries in Britain were of such reduced size by the A.D. 220s or 230s, and whether or not the newly-built barracksof about this time were a recognition of a state of affairs that had been developing for some time, are questions which cannot be answered at present.76It may be noted that in this period there is abundantepigraphic evidence of the stationing of irregular(often Germanic) units alongside auxiliaries in northernBritain; but it is not certain whether this should be connected with the reduction in size of auxiliary centuries, for example as a deliberate means of maintaining overall numbers of troops even though there were only half as many regular auxiliaries as before. At Wallsend an irregular-lookingcavalry barrackof post-pit construction (8, FIG.6) was inserted in the third century A.D. as an addition to the regularcomplement of barracksfor a cohors quingenaria equitata. This was probably one of a pair. It has been suggested that these additional barrackswere for an irregularunit of the type so widely attested on inscriptions from other northernforts.77

The third-centuryA.D. buildings in the retentura at Wallsend, formerly described as chalets, may now be interpretedas barracks.However, these were almost certainly not infantry barracks. Stone71 Wilkes 1966, 130; Birley 1967, 6-7. 72 Bidwell 1991, 14. 73 Mackensen 1994. 74 Schwartz and Wild 1950; Schwartz et al. 1969. 75 Possible exceptions are the timber barracks revealed on the outer limes of Upper Germany and Raetia, at Lorch, Heidenheim, and Buch. If these are the latest barrackson the sites, and stone replacements have not been lost to the plough, they suggest that full-size (i.e. around ten contubernia) barracks stayed in use until the end of these forts in c. A.D. 260. 76 If the fort at Newcastle, founded in the late second century A.D. or the Severan period, accommodated the six centuries of the quingenary unit attested there, it would only have had room for small barracks of the 'new' type. This has been taken to suggest that barracksmay have been built for reduced centuries by the Severan period or earlier (Bidwell and Snape 2002, 271-3). This interpretationassumes that the fort was the base for a whole unit and not a detachment. 77 Hodgson 2003, 148-52.



lined drains survived in at least three of the front rooms of contubernia facing the via quintana in BarrackIX, in two of the front rooms of BarrackXII, and were also recorded by Daniels in two of what can now be reconstructedas the front rooms of the south-facing BarrackXI (6 and 7, FIG.6). These, along with the elaborate drainage system preserved in the officer's house of BarrackXII (not illustratedhere), and the retentionof the second-centuryA.D.officer's drainagesystem as a soakaway in BarrackIX, suggest most strongly that the third-centuryA.D.barracksalso accommodated horses, with the stone drains or channels serving a similar function to the urine-pits in the second-century stable-barracks. The arrangementof the contubernia was thus broadly similar to that of their second-century A.D. predecessors: a front-room stable with an underfloor soakaway channel, and a rear room for the accommodation of the troopers. But the internal organisation of the turma was strikingly different, with only five contubernia. Each of the front-room stables was probably capable of holding six animals: compare the area of the rooms, at an average of 21 m2 with the 13 m2 area of the earlier stabling rooms. In BarrackIX (6, FIG.6), the rear rooms were twice the size of their second-century counterparts,at 24 m2; those in BarrackXII (7, FIG.6) were, however, the same as before, at some 12.50 m2. If each contuberniumcontinued to hold three riders and their mounts, the turmae would have been fifteen strong (plus the officer(s)). But this would fail to account for the enlargement of the stabling areas, and it is more likely that each contubernium now held six horses, and that six riders were accommodated in the rear space. In BarrackXII this would mean that the troopers were less generously provided with space than in the second century A.D., but there is no problem about fitting six in. Comparethe rearrooms of the fourth-centuryA.D. contubernia at South Shields, surely 7). Six is preferredto occupied by at least six soldiers, and often 10 m2 or less in area (9 and 10, FIG. five for the strength of the contubernium:this would have allowed the traditionalturma strength of 30 to be maintained, while the (h)exarchus, evidently a junior officer in charge of a sub-division of six men, is an attested rank in the late Roman cavalry.78 On this evidence a turma of cohors IVLingonum, the known garrison of Wallsend in the period c. A.D.225-c. 250, would have been 30 strong, organised into five contubernia of six. The maintenance of the overall strength of the turmae at a time when centuries were being reduced may reflect the minimum size of an effective operationalunit of cavalry. The ala fort of Halton Chesters on Hadrian's Wall furnishes a close parallel for this new style of third-century A.D. cavalry barrack. Here in the east praetentura Richmond identified two principal building-periods.79 Over what were identified as Hadrianic stables (almost certainly, of course, stable-barracks)was found 'a series of five small rooms from which the flooring had been removed, leaving only the remains of an open drain running on the east-to-west axis of each room ...This vanished floor was doubtless flagged, since nothing else but flags would be worth removal. The rooms may therefore be interpretedas flagged stables, carefully drained, but divided into compartmentsby stone walls. Each room, 26 by 11 feet internally, would amply contain the horses of eight men ...'. Richmond dated the remains to the third century A.D. and furtheridentified this building as a back-to-back one, the fragmentary stubs of walling at the west side of the cells containing the drains being the remains of a central spine wall. If this building is reconstructedas a ratherthan simply a stable, it will be noted that the drains all fall back-to-backpair of stable-barracks within the front half of the cells (FIG.13). What has gone unobserved is the wall dividing the front and rearrooms of the cells, which we can now interpretas contubernia; this was probably supplied in timber. Rather than containing eight horses, then, each of these spaces would have contained a room for somewhat fewer riders - 4 to 6 - and a stall for their horses. The size of the contubernia

78 Grosse 1920,109-10 ; ILS 2528, 2629, 2792, 2793, 9207; in addition R.S.O. Tomlin has kindly drawn our attention to AE 1916, 7-8; 1937, 35 (explicitly a 'contubernalis'); AE 1938, 98. 79 Simpson and Richmond 1937, 164-7 and fig. 5.





-------=-i II II It II

II l ii I 11 ,. , I ItI ,I




iICTTIiii " 11 III til it I I Ii II it


lii II II = II II II

o l

,il ST1 !',

T ^



IIII( S.ii











FIG. 13.


1: Plan of third-centuryA.D. 'stables' at Halton Chesters (in Simpson and Richmond 1937). 2: The same remains reconstructedas a back-to-back pair of late Roman stable-barracks.



is only slightly less than in BarrackXI/XII at Wallsend. Perhaps fewer horses in each room and a greaternumberof rooms than at Wallsend were used to make up the turmatotal: there may have been more than the five contubernia identified by Richmond. It is unclear how much space the officers' houses took up, and it looks as if the buildings extended far enough south to join on to the principia forehall. But seven or eight contubernia seems to be the maximum possible number, certainly a shortfall on the second-century norm. A striking confirmation of the back-to-back arrangement of contubernia at Halton Chesters is provided by the geophysical survey of the fort by Berry and In conclusion, although many details of the Halton Chesters later Roman cavalry barrack Taylor.80 remain in need of elucidation, it strongly suggests that the third-centuryA.D.arrangementwith fewer but larger contubernia, and horses stabled in the front rooms as in the second century, is not unique to Wallsend, and may in fact be a standardlater Roman type.

Whatever the nature of, and reasons for, the earlier third-century A.D. reduction in the size of centuries in Britain, it is generally accepted that by the fourth century units throughoutthe Empire were of a reduced size. Just how reduced they had typically become has been the subject of much discussion and debate. In the fort constructed between c. A.D. 286 and c. A.D. 318 at South Shields the plan of a minimumcomplement of ten barrackscan now be reconstructedwith confidence (10, FIG.7). These fourth-centuryA.D.barrackscontained five regularly-sized contubernia, each capable of accommodating the traditional eight men. Let us say for the sake of argument that by now they held only six men (there is, as we have seen, some evidence for sub-units of six in the late Roman army). This would allow the intended strength of the late Roman unit to be calculated as at the very least 300, divided into ten parts (we do not know whether these were termed 'centuries'). This exercise must be of great interest given currentuncertaintyabout unit sizes in the late Roman army. It gives a frontier unit, in this case either newly-raised or newly-arrived at South Shields, of fairly considerable size, a far cry from the drastically reduced units that were once suggested on the basis of one soldier and family per 'chalet'. Now that it is reasonable to assume that barrack-plotsin the other Wall-forts of the first half of the fourth century A.D. were occupied not by 'chalets' but by barracksfor reduced centuries of at least 30, and cavalry turmae of 30, we can see that the Wallforts will have been capable of holding units of the same order of size as at South Shields. A cohors quingenaria equitata of six centuries and four turmae, for example, would have a minimum strength of 300 (180 infantry, 120 cavalry), at least in theory.

The fact that the new five-contuberniumbarracksbegan to appearwhen the vici were still operating invalidates the link that was once made between the introduction of 'chalets' and the movement of civilians into the forts following the late third- or early fourth-centuryA.D. abandonmentof the extra-muralvici.81 In any case, with their formal arrangementof contubernia with side-passages, accommodation for officers, and regularly-positioned hearths, there is nothing informal or unmilitary about the barracks described here, at least up to the mid-fourth century. There were no signs of occupation of the barracksby families at South Shields, Wallsend, or Vindolanda.This does not prove that civilians were not accommodated alongside the soldiers in the barracks;all that can be said is that in the later third and early fourth century A.D. there is no more evidence that this was

Berry and Taylor 1997. 81 For the date of the abandonment of the military vici of northern Britain, see Bidwell 1991, 14; Bidwell 1999, 29-30.



the case than there is for the second and earlier third centuries.82There is no systematic study of the incidence over time of artefactswith female or infant associations from Roman barracksin general, or in any particulargeographical area. In part this must be a reflection of the shortage of stratified finds assemblages from modern barrackexcavations, revealing once again that these structureshave not been as thoroughly investigated in the past as is sometimes imagined. The Tyneside barracks may shed more light on the question of female, infant, and civilian presence when post-excavation analysis is complete. In the barracks at South Shields and Vindolanda there is an evident horizon of change where the internal arrangementsof the buildings became less regular.Around c. A.D. 370 the barracks at Vindolanda were reconstructed with the same overall plan as before. But in the two contubernia within the investigated area where deposits of this late date had survived ploughing, there was no longer any sign of internal partitions or regularly-placed hearths.83At South Shields most of the latest levels in the fourth-centuryA.D. barrackshave been removed by earlier excavators, but there was much survival of late Roman material in the block in the east quadrantthat was completely excavated in 1986-89. Here, as at Vindolanda, several of the contubernia had had their internal partitions removed and paving spread throughouttheir interiors. In two cases out of five the backfrontpartitionwas retaineduntil the end, but all of the side-passages disappeared.Unfortunatelythese changes cannot be closely dated at South Shields. However, the paved street surface accompanying the barrackin this final phase, and the late flagged floors within the barrack,were similar to surfaces in the adjacent commanding-officer's house which can be dated by coins to the period after c. A.D. 370. By this time the hypocausts in the officers' houses found in all of the South Shields barrackshad been filled in and the praefurnium and industrial installations in the adjacent workshops were filled and flagged over. At Wallsend none of the recently re-excavated deposits in the barracksextended far into the fourth century A.D.,and it is now known that the fourth-centurybuildings were generally removed by modern agricultureand industrialactivity even before the 1975-84 excavations. The abandonmentof regular arrangementsinside the barracksthat occurred at South Shields and Vindolandaaroundor after c. A.D.370 is a genuine phenomenon which must have some significance. It occurs alongside other changed patternsof occupation from this time. The late Romanpraetorium at South Shields, for example, ceased to function as accommodation for a high-status household in this period, undergoing alterationand partial demolition. We suspect that in barracksin general the sort of rupturewith the traditionalcontuberniumarrangements,once associated with 'chalets' and dated to the early fourth century A.D., actually occurred in the years after c. A.D. 370. It is possible that families were occupying the barracks by this time, although there is no direct evidence. There were female finds - hairpins- concentratedin one room of the wholly excavated fourth-centuryA.D. barrackat South Shields. At South Shields the incidence of infant burial in the barracksincreases in the fourth century A.D. There are single isolated instances in each of the thirdcentury A.D. periods, but in the barracksof Periods 7 and 8, spanning the fourth century (9 and 10, FIG.7), more than half a dozen infant burials have been found in the limited areas of those buildings that have been excavated using modern techniques. Generally speaking they cannot be dated closely, althoughone in the completely excavated barrackwas sealed by a passage side-wall and was therefore probably inserted in the first half of the fourth century A.D. Given the increased incidence of infant burial in the later Roman period in general, it is difficult to know what significance to read into the practice as attested at fourth-centuryA.D. South Shields. It is possible but by no means certain that most of the infant burials relate to the changed conditions in the barracksafter c. A.D. 370.

82 It has been claimed that: 'The analysis of the small finds, however, shows that female artefacts appear in forts along Hadrian's Wall with some regularity in the second and early-third centuries but tail off in the fourth ... The chalets ... show few traces of female occupation ...' (Allason-Jones 1989, 60-1). 83 Bidwell 1985, 70; figs 31 and 32.7.



The study of the barracks of the Roman army holds forth the tantalising prospect of gains in knowledge in two important,poorly understood areas. First, it offers a key to understandinghow the army, as an institution and a society, changed over time, and how its transformationrelated to more general social and political change in the ancient world. Secondly, the evidence of the barracksholds the potential to take us into the everyday world of the Roman soldier and those of his civilian companions who lived inside the fort. As a concrete example, we have seen how different the experience of membership of a cavalry contuberniumof three troopers, with horses and slaves in close and constant attendance, must have been from the modernising picture of separate barrack and stable life envisaged for most of the twentieth century.This informationhas been derived solely from the recent excavation of barracksand shows the potential of the structuralevidence to unlock aspects of the lived experience of these modest military communities which surviving textual evidence denies us. Yet for anyone who takes more than a superficial look at the topic, the surprising thing is simply how few big excavations, using modern techniques, there have been on barracks, anywhere in the Roman world. That the programme of work described in this article can add so much to the traditionalpicture bears starktestimony to the limited scale of investigation of barracksover the last half century. It also disproves the idea that all that could be found out was found out many years ago, and shows up the fatuity of the belief that there has been a surfeit of excavations on Roman barracks.It is also importantto note how many questions remain unanswered despite the amount of informationprovided by the recent work on Hadrian'sWall. We still do not understandthe context of and meaning of the changes to the size and style of centuries and their barracksin the first half of the third century A.D. (another aspect, by the way, that was formerly unsuspected). We still do not know for sure when in the fourth century A.D. in Britain civilians moved into fort barracks,or why. Detailed knowledge of plans of well-preserved stone barracksoutside Britain is very poor indeed. On basic questions, such as whether there was a standardway of furnishing barracks,and how the members of the contuberniumwere disposed for sleeping, we still have no firm evidence whatsoever from anywhere in the Empire. Yet experience suggests that further discoveries, when properly understood,will one day guide us closer to the truth.Gains in knowledge will only accrue as a result of careful study of structuralevidence which is often slight, difficult to recognise, and ambiguous in its implications. The informationharvested from the Tyneside forts takes us a few paces forward on a journey which has really only just begun.

have all been prepared The finalversionsof the plansfromSouthShieldsandWallsend by DavidWhitworth have drawn staff of TyneandWearMuseums but manyotherprofessional of the authors, underthe direction over a long period.Foremostamongthese are:Gary to theirdevelopment versionsof them and contributed McKelvey,Roger Oram,and GraemeStobbs.The authorsare Brogan,Glen Foley, TerryFrain,Jonathan anddiscussions andforvaluedcomments the remains to thesecolleagues fortheirworkon interpreting grateful The sourcesof plansfromothersites aregivenin the text or two decadesof excavation overnearly campaigns. areparticularly The authors arebasedon drawings those fromVindolanda by AnnieGibson-Ankers. captions; to ProfessorD.J. Breeze and ProfessorL.J.F.Keppiefor valuablecommentand discussion.Many indebted of the Earthwatch in this paperwere madepossibleby the generoussponsorship described of the excavations Institute. Tyneand WearMuseums Thispaper is published with the aid of a grant from Tyneand WearMuseums



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