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Coriovallum (Heerlen)

Coriovallum, modern Heerlen in the Netherlands, was a village near a stopping-place on the road between Tongeren and Cologne. There were also roads to Trier and Xanten.

Reconstruction of the Heerlen baths
Reconstruction of the Heerlen baths
Coriovallum is well-known for the baths (or thermae), built during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, and at the moment splendidly exhibited in the Thermenmuseum. (The largest visible ruin in the Netherlands.) The baths have been rebuilt at the Archeon (in Alphen aan den Rijn). The design is almost identical to that of the baths in Xanten; the difference is that the thermae of Xanten are four times larger.

More than pubs and caf├ęs in our own age, the bathhouse was the place to meet friends. Visitors were able to train their bodies on a field near the building or in the swimming pool, or could use the cold, tepid, and warm baths, or enjoy the sauna, the restaurant or the library. The combination of bathhouse, library and restaurant may surprise us, but the Romans were accustomed to it. If they wanted to say that someone was illiterate, they said he could not swim.

Tombstone of Marcus Julius, soldier of V Alaudae (CIL 13.8711)
Tombstone of Marcus Julius, soldier of V Alaudae (CIL 13.8711)
The bathhouse was connected to an aqueduct and a sewer system. It is difficult to evaluate their effects. The presence of clean water and the washing down of dirt were no doubt very positive, but on the other hand, the thermae were visited by both healthy and ill people at the same time. These buildings must have been sources of illness. In Rome, we know of various kinds of infections, and the situation in Germania Inferior can not have been very different.

The walls of Heerlen's Sint-Pancratiuskerk contain ancient Roman stones. Forty-six kilns have been identified; the town must have been an important center for the production of pottery, which can be explained from the presence of useful, white clay.

This page was created in 2003; last modified on 21 October 2014.