Barracks of legionary fortresses

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Barracks of legionary fortresses

The barracks of legionary fortresses were arranged in blocks of six, each block housing the six centuries of a cohort. They were placed close to the edges of the fortress so that the soldiers could man the defences quickly if attacked. The more vulnerable buildings - baths, hospital, etc - lay at the centre of the fortress.

Each barrack had a framework of stout upright timbers whose feet were embedded in trenches. Above ground the walls must have been formed of clay over a framework of timber laths, no doubt covered by plaster, but at Exeter the walls were demolished entirely upon the departure of the legion c. AD 75. Upon excavation only the trenches in which the wall timbers were bedded (within which are soft silty patches marking the former positions of posts) and the clay floors of the rooms are the only traces of these buildings. They require skilled excavation. The legionaries would spend the winter in barracks within the fortress. In summer they would be out on campaign, living in tents in temporary camps.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum

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