For my final project, I used Sketchup to create a virtual Roman marching camp. These camps were remarkably well organized, and could be erected with truly astounding efficiency.
The camp is divided into a couple of main areas. This large, central is the Praetorium, the general’s tent. Around the Praetorium are a number of roads. Leading into the Praetorium from the main gate is the Via Praetoria, which turns into the Via Quaestorium on the other side and runs to the other main gate. There are two more roads, perpendicular to the other two, known as the Via Principalis and the Via Quintana. The Via Principalis connects to the Via Praetoria, and likewise the Via Quintana connects to the Via Quaestorium. These two roads allowed easy access to the other four gates, which were the only other means of entry into the camp.
Surrounding the camp was a ditch and a rampart. The exact size of the ditch varied quite a bit. It could be anywhere from 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep to 17 feet wide by 9 feet deep. While the ditch is mostly triangular in shape, there was a small square slot at the bottom of it. The exact reason for this slot is debated. It could’ve been a waste drainage slot or an ankle breaker defensive measure, but most likely it was used as a base for fencing of some kind. The rampart wasn’t really anything major, it was just made from the soil excavated to make the ditch. To allow access into the camp, two different types of gates were used. When the camp wasn’t in an area particularly threatening, the gates would be simple breaks in ditch and rampart. However, when the threat of an attack was larger, the ditch and rampart would be constructed in a way that was semi-circular. The idea behind this was that any attackers trying to invade through them would expose their right side, the side that held the weapon, not the shield, to archers on the inside. This space between the rampart and the interior of the camp was known as the Intervallum, and is probably where the camp followers stayed.
There is significantly more information available about these camps, but to chronicle it all here would take an unreasonable amount of space. For more information, I would recommend looking at some of the attached sources. Trajan’s Column has a depiction of a camp located on it, which provides for some interesting viewing. Brueggeman provides a formula that allows the approximate size of a camp to be calculated and helps to show just how large they were. Kaye did quite a lot of research into the logistics of camps, particularly how they provided enough water for all the troops. Matyszak is a good book for a general introduction into Roman life. Finally, Roman Scotland has a more detailed explanation of the layout of the camps.
Attached you will find the file that I created for this project. Feel free to download it and explore. Please, enjoy!
Barrette, P., Beckmann, M., George, M., Rich, S., Rockwell, G., Umholtz, G., & Rockwell, P. (1999). Trajan’s Column. Retrieved from The McMasters Column of Trajan Project: http://www.stoa.org/trajan/index.html
Brueggeman, G. (2003). Camp Size. Retrieved from The Roman Army: http://garyb.0catch.com/camp3_dimensions/camp_dimensions.html
Kaye, S. (2013). Roman Marching Camps. Retrieved from Banda Arc Geophysics: http://www.bandaarcgeophysics.co.uk/arch/roman_marching_camps_uk.html
Matyszak, P. (2009). Legionary: The Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual. London: Thames & Hudson.
Roman Marching Camps. (2008, March). Retrieved from Roman Scotland: http://www.romanscotland.org.uk/pages/infrastructure/marchcamps.asp