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Carvium (Herwen)


Detail of map of Germania Inferior. Design Jona Lendering.
The location of Carvium (number 22)
Germania inferior: small province of the Roman empire, situated along the Lower Rhine. This webpage is part of a series of short descriptions of villages in Germania inferior. An overview can be found here.

The remains of this auxiliary fort at Carvium can probably be found somewhere in the meanders of the Rhine (go here for a satellite photo of the area).

Stray finds suggest that the military settlement was occupied between the second quarter of the first century and the fourth century. This suggests that it was a normal fort: built during the reign of Caligula (37-41) or during Corbulo's command of the army of Germania Inferior in 47, restored after the Batavian revolt (69-70), rebuilt after Hadrian's visit to the Low Countries in 121, again rebuilt during the reign of the Severan emperors, destroyed in 275, and reoccupied in the fourth century. There is no evidence for this reconstruction, but it is the normal history of a Roman fort on the south bank of the Lower Rhine.

An inscription mentions the presence of the Cohors II civium Romanorum equitata pia fidelis in Carvium, probably in the second century.

Near Carvium was a large mole, which almost certainly served to regulate the flow of the Rhine and the Canal of Drusus. According to the Histories of the Roman historian Tacitus, it was destroyed during the Batavian revolt (in the summer of 70), but was probably restored. The exact location is not yet known, but an inscription that was dredged from the Rhine mentions the mole:

Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier (order; review)
Tombstone of Marcus Mallius, buried at Carvium. Museum Valkhof, Nijmegen (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Tombstone of M. Mallius, buried at Carvium (Valkhof, Nijmegen)
Marcvs  MALLIVS
Marci  Filivs  GALERia  tribv GENVA
MILELEGionis  I  RVSONi  centvria
ANNOrvm  XXXV  STIPendiorvm  XVI
CARVIO  AD  MOLEM
SEPVLTVS  EST  EX  TESTamentvm
HEREDES  DVO  FECervnt
Marcus Mallius,
son of Marcus, of the Galerian district, from Genua,
soldier of the first legion, century of Rusonus,
35 years old, has after 16 years of service
at Carvium near the mole
been buried. According to his will
his two inheritors erected (this tombstone).


The name Carvium survives as Herwen, the name of a modern town. On the site of what may have been the fort, there's now a marina. Here you can see it on a satellite photo.

At the moment, there are plans to reconstruct the ancient fort, which will be called Carvium Novum.





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