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The German Frontier

In much of Europe the Roman Frontier followed the Rhine and the Danube rivers. To shorten communications and to control some areas rich in agricultural resources the Romans created a land frontier over 500 km long with some 900 watchtowers and 120 forts between the upper reaches of the Rhine and the Danube.  Begun under the orders of the emperor Hadrian in the second century, by the middle of the 3rd century the frontier had been largely overrun by barbarian tribes.

In Upper Germany a palisade fence was constructed in a mathematically straight and unbroken line which even today often forms an important and defining element in the landscape.  In what is now Bavaria, along the Raetian Limes, a palisade was erected later then replaced in the early 3rd century AD by a stone wall.

More a guarded border line than a military defence system, the Limes enabled traffic to be managed, movement of people controlled and goods traded and taxed. Increasing pressure caused by barbarian tribal movements from the east and internal conflicts within the Empire led to the collapse of this part of the frontier in the late third century AD.

To find out more about the German Limes visit and

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