Story of a discovery
Antonio Rodríguez Colmenero
Story of the evolution of the scientific project in the Roman fort told by Antonio Rodríguez Colmenero, Professor of Ancient History, initiator and coordinator of the research project at Aquis Querquennis.
Discovery and excavation of the camp
The first surveys were carried out by Florentino López Cuevillas in the 1920s, after visiting the premises on June 5, 1921 with Ramón Otero Pedrayo, Vicente Risco and the lawyer of Bande Farruco Pena2. In 1949 it was flooded under the Las Conchas reservoir in Fenosa. This company authorized the excavations from 1975, under the direction of Antonio Rodríguez Colmenero for twenty years, focusing especially on the northwest quadrant. Today they continue under the hand of Santiago Ferrer Sierra.
The camp, which occupied an area of 2.5 hectares, was surrounded by a rectangular wall and rounded corners. In the same square quadrangular defensive towers stood out between the doors and in the corners. The wall was built with small granite perpians, attached to bone (embedded without cement), was 3.20 m wide and about 5 m high, and was topped by semi-cylindrical battlements. The defensive system also had a V-shaped outer pit, 5 meters wide and approximately 3 meters deep. It had four monumental doors, from which the Principalis Sinistra (main door on the left side) and the Decumana, on the west side were excavated. The Principalis had two holes, one entry and one exit. The Decumana was similar, but with a single opening. The defensive system is completed with the 11 m wide interval, a safety space without constructions between the wall and the first line of buildings.
Five barracks for a troop or strigia were excavated, consisting of facing alignments around a central courtyard, with a cistern to collect rainwater. The rooms or contubernia were of clay, were divided into two parts: sleeping space and homes. In each one eight soldiers could live. At the entrance of the barracks are circular bases, which would be the bottom of community ovens. There are also two horrea or rectangular barns in the camp, which would rise above stone pillar lines and were bounded by thick walls with external buttresses. An almost square-plan building was also found, which would be the hospital or valetudinarium, consisting of several square rooms around a central courtyard or compluvium. It is possible that this courtyard had a peristyle of wooden columns seated on a low stone wall. A channel also appeared that would lead the compluvium waters to the outside of the building.
The central building, which would be the headquarters or principia, has a rectangular floor plan. In it we find a hall flanked by covered walkways and open to the facade. Then there are two small rooms on both sides, which are the possible armaments, where they would keep the weapons for non-daily use. Then there is a large rectangular patio with peristils on three sides, known as the forum. Then there is a basilica which is accessed by a large central entrance and two narrower sides. In the background would be the sacred-administrative area, with an official temple or aedes surrounded by five rooms, two from the north and three from the south, which could be the tabularium or archive.
Latrines were also excavated, a rectangular building attached to the wall. In them there is a drainage channel, a central sewer, and, a space in which some wooden benches or toilets would be located, not preserved because they were originally made of wood.
Outside the wall, in the southernmost area we find two circular bases paved with tegula, probably they were ceramic furnace bases. There were also vestiges of a house. In this place a vicus or cannaba would settle, which would be a small contemporary town to the camp3.
It is believed that the military unit occupied by Aquis Querquennis was cohort III, which depended on Legio VII Gemina, whose base was in León, due to the appearance of ceramic marks on tegula confirming this. It would be a unit with 600 infantry and cavalry soldiers.
FUNDACIÓN AQUAE QUERQUENNAE VIA NOVA
Se compone de diversos edificios, construídos en datas sucesivas, en la actualidad pertenecientes todos ellos a la Fundación Aquae Querquennae Via Nova.
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