An Archaeological Highlight
The first sections were excavated on a parcel of land named »Oberesch.« Almost the entire site is covered by Plaggen soil, i.e. by pieces of sod (so-called »Plaggen«), which were put there as fertilizer during the Middle Ages and in early modern times. Yet many Roman coins and military artifacts were found in their original positions on today’s earth surface, besides a few individual, partially relocated artifacts underneath the Esch.
A long section cut shed light on the reasons for this pattern of finds. Apart from Roman artifacts (among them the impressive facial mask of a Roman cavalrist), a meaningful discovery was made: an earthen wall which indeed proved to be what archaeologists had suspected: It was a man-made fortification, as analyses by soil scientists confirmed. While the rampart was first interpreted as a Roman construct, it is now safe to assume that this fortification was built by Germanic people to create an ambush for Roman troops. This assumption is backed up by the actual finds, the layout of the wall and the construction method used for the rampart.
It is believed that the rampart had been planned carefully, but erected shortly before the arrival of the Romans. The composition of the artifacts as well as the type of their fragmentation and damage indicate that Roman troops were successfully attacked and beaten here. The fact that the finds have been dated to the time around Christ’s birth, plus the high number of coins from the years 7 to 9 AD, make it more than likely that these finds are to be placed in the context of the Varus battle.