Aquis Querquennis

Aquis Architecture (II): Main quarters, hospital and granary. - AquisQuerquennis 3D

Aquis3D 15 May, 2020 No Comments

The previous article explained how the construction was carried out, the materials used and what features the Aquis Querquennis Roman camp had. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here.

We will continue commenting briefly on what the architecture and the various components were like that make up the Aquis Querquennis archaeological complex.

The principia or main quarters

In the classic arrangement of a permanent military fortification, the principia occupied a central position since the main administrative activities of the unit were carried out in this building, and it had to have direct visual connection with the military compound front door.

Following the norm of military settlements of this type, the Bande principia occupies a central position within the fort. It was a completely free-standing building, framed by the layout of the uiae principalis and quintana, as well as 17 m-wide spaces separating them from the buildings located on its sides. As with the other structures documented in the site, its walls, erected using the opus uncertainum technique (irregular rigging) would have been practically destroyed.

The entrance to the principia was in the centre of the outside wall of the lobby, and would have had a width of 3.5 m and be marked by the use of granite ashlars in the opening. A stone wall would mark the limits of the courtyard on three of its sides, and serve as a support for colonnades that would hold the covers of many other porticos. Altogether this porticoed courtyard would occupy about half of the central rectangle of the building.

Following this, a new area of significant dimensions was identified that would have had full roofing. In this basilica, 7 rooms of unequal size (officinae) were documented attached to the south-western closing wall of the building.

The paving, of gravel, sand and earth, would not have differed much from that found in the other rooms, with the exception that here it rises 60 cm above the level of the flooring used.

In other rooms, wooden floors would have been installed in accordance with the marks detected on the ground.

Aquis Querquennis Camp – Main quarters (Principia)
Aquis Querquennis Camp – Main quarters (Principia)

The valetudinarium or military hospital

One of the aspects that best reflects the professionalism of the Roman army is the development of military medicine. Thus, the valetudinaria had the task of caring for and isolating the wounded and sick soldiers, preventing them from sharing accommodation with the rest of the troop. They were quadrangular or rectangular floor buildings, arranged around an open and porticoed central courtyard. Usually, a set of rooms would be built around this inverted U-shaped area. Most of these would be rooms for soldiers and could be divided by partitions or screens. However, some of these rooms could have been used as accommodation for health personnel or as a pharmacy.

In Bande, the valetudinarium occupies the eastern vertex of the compact west sector of the rear division. The floor plan was rectangular and almost quadrangular in shape and its internal distribution was very simple: up to 12 small rooms (of various measurements between 2.80 and 4 m on each side) and clay or tread floors arranged around a central porticoed courtyard whose ambulatory was bounded by a narrow wall and open in the area opposite the building entrance.

The horrea or granaries

Feeding the Roman military units required a significant logistical effort. To facilitate this, Roman forts had a horrea, a type of building with a rectangular ground plan, architecturally characterised by its wide walls, the presence of buttresses on the outside and raised floors. This was due to the fact that these constructions were designed as grain storage spaces, so it was necessary to compensate for the excessive force from the volume of merchandise on the side walls while at the same time preventing excessive humidity or the entry of rodents,

The horrea or granaries were in the southern vertex of the western sector of the rear area. This unit consists of two rectangular buildings arranged in parallel and separated by a narrow space. The latter would be used for the construction of both the buttresses of the granaries and a small channel for the collection of rainwater.

As regards the area itself, they were not twin buildings, as their overall dimensions and the width of their walls were different.

Likewise, both have five rows of pyramidal stone trunk pillars inside which would allow the floor to be raised about 60 cm above the ground in the case of the eastern horreum and 80 cm in the west. As regards the construction technique, most of the walls were erected in granite opus incertum. The walls of the eastern horreum would be about 55 cm wide with the exception of that located to the west, which was narrower (46 cm). In the westernmost example, the front and rear walls were 55 cm wide by 80 cm at the sides.

Aquis Querquennis Camp - Floor areas
Aquis Querquennis Camp – Floor areas

Ovens and Toilets


Opposite the barracks access, there were circular structures made of stone about 2 m in diameter.

In accordance with other configurations found in various European and peninsular military fortifications, these would have been the foundations of the oven for making bread. In theory, each of the barracks would have had its own oven.

Following these same configurations, it is not difficult to reconstruct the original form of this type of structure. Thus, a uniform bed of tiles or stone slabs would have been placed on the aforementioned foundations. Next, a small circular wall of stones and local clay would be built to form a vault as courses converged. This would have a door or opening in its front part that had to be covered with some type of fireproof covering.

The way of use was equally simple: first, a fire was started inside the oven which heated the walls of the oven evenly. Next, the coals and ashes were removed to introduce the food to be cooked, and the opening closed to prevent a drop in temperature.


Around the perimeter of military enclosures, other important constructions were arranged for health reasons: the Toilets (latrinae) were a series of areas with wooden or stone seats with a hole in their centre. They were frequently distributed around a central area where water basins and tools for hygiene and cleaning could be found.

For the drainage of waste matter, there would be a complicated system of cisterns and pipes that ejected it outside the fortified enclosure or was dumped into septic tanks that had to be emptied frequently.

During the 2014 campaign, toilets were also located in Bande near the southern corner. This is a quadrangular building that would have had pipes made with brick-like material. However, other aspects related to this construction have not yet been made public.

Aquis Querquennis Camp - Toilets
Aquis Querquennis Camp – Toilets

The next and final articles will include this analysis again for the other camp areas which have not yet been investigated, before finally completing the map.

Other important parts of the complex:

  • Soldiers’ barracks
  • Workshops and storehouses
  • Commander’s Residence
  • Other barracks and stables
  • Area outside the walls
  • Via Nova