Manching in Roman Times
Manching – Celtic Oppidum, Roman Civilian Settlement and Late Roman Military Post
During the 3rd–1st century BC one of Central Europe’s largest Celtic settlements was located near the confluence of the River Paar with the Danube. The settlement, which was situated on the former southern bank of the Danube directly east of a crossing-point over the Paar, was favourably sited for traffic communications at the crossroads of important long-distant routes. The east-west road running along the south bank of the Danube, which led through the middle of the oppidum, was upgraded in Roman times to the Danube south-bank road.
Monumental witnesses of the oppidum are the surviving remains of an almost circular settlement-wall constructed from timber, earth and stone, which today appear in parts as an impressive embankment and which enclosed an area of ca. 380 ha (figs 1–2). Erected around 130 BC in the fashion of a murus gallicus, it was renewed towards the end of the 2nd century BC by the forward-placing of a wall using slot-and-beams. Following a second renewal of the wall, the settlement declined from ca. 80/70 BC, so that between 50 and 30 BC the area of the oppidum was largely abandoned.
The extensive abandonment of the settlement may be responsible for the pre-Roman name of the oppidum not having been handed down.
According to the coin-sequence, which began in the Early Imperial period, one can assume a Roman presence in the enclosed area of the oppidum during the first half of the 1st century AD. In 2002 a Roman well was discovered near the rampart, which had been filled in the first third of the 2nd century and, therefore, could have belonged to a farm already existing in the 1st century. Moreover, several lime-kilns have been located in the ruins of the rampart, of which one investigated in 2003 had already been established around the birth of Christ. At the spot where a road into the Limes region may have branched off the Danube south-bank road a rural settlement or a roadside station (mansio) of the Middle Imperial period can be assumed. Apart from scanty building remains, several important finds are associated with this settlement of the 2nd/3rd century. Beside the silver dish decorated with reliefs (fig. 3), which was found by ploughing before 1848, we shall only mention here the famous treasure-hoard of silver tableware (fig. 4), which came to light in 1955. Because of its situation within the rampart ruins, the Middle Imperial settlement is usually identified with the roadside station of Vallatum listed in the Itinerarium Antonini of the 3rd century.
The continual coin-sequence within the oppidum stops with issues of Severus Alexander and no Late Roman finds are known from the area of the Middle Imperial period. However, in the grubbed out wall of the oppidum’s eastern gate a crossbow brooch of AD 350–380 was found. In the Notitia Dignitatum a Vallato appears as the garrison of a prefect of a section of the 3rd Legion Italica and a prefect of a cavalry unit, but it has hitherto not been able to locate the corresponding military base. However, a site in the immediate proximity of the crossing-point over the Paar near to the modern-day parish church of St. Peter, which lies upon slightly elevated ground, seems conceivable, not only in the light of several Late Roman burial finds.
1417 first naming of the ring wall as “the pile” and regarded as Roman for a long time after
1892/3 first excavations around the gates by J. Fink on behalf of the “Commission for Researching the Prehistory of Bavaria at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences”
1903 Letter from P. Reinecke to J. Déchelette: the ring wall of Manching encloses a Celtic oppidum
1936–8 considerable destruction of the archaeological substance during the construction of the military airfield
1937–8 investigations of the wall by H. Beck and K. H. Wagner (RGK)
1956–2015 scientific direction of the excavation by the RGK (W. Krämer, F. Schuber, F. Maier, S. Sievers) in co-operation with the BLfD and the ASM
2006 opening of the Celts and Romans Museum Manching as an off-shoot of the ASM
Concise Information on the Site
Settlement traces of the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Urn-field Period, Hallstatt and early La Tène Period. The most researched oppidum of Central Europe; from the 3rd–1st century BC: ring wall 7.3 km long, diameter 2.2–2.3 km, ca. 380 ha; abandonment around 50–30 BC. Roman use of the area from the early 1st century onwards; Middle Imperial period in the centre of the enclosure wall, perhaps the roadside station Vallatum of the Itinerarium Antonini. The Late Roman fort of Vallato named in the Notitia Dignitatum is conjectured to be either near the crossing-point over the Paar at St. Peter’s, or rather the fortified hill-top of “Schlössl”, or in the north of the oppidum at the Danube crossing.
Well-preserved remains of the ring wall in the south and east of the oppidum with two inturned gateways (south and east gate); Celtic harbour connected to the Danube “Dürren Au”; traffic route of the Roman Danube south-bank road on an east-west axis through the oppidum (Geisenfelder Straße); fortified hill-top “Schlössl”; Celts and Romans Museum with important finds from the oppidum and Roman fort at Oberstimm, including the wrecks of two river patrol-boats of the Trajanic period.