5.4 Ellingen

The auxiliary fort at Ellingen covered 0.7 hectares. A wood and earth fort was built here c. AD 120, and a building inscription indicates that this fort was replaced with a stone-built one in AD 182 (Zanier 1992, 157-62). The fort probably housed a garrison involved in the construction of the frontier fortifications, the Limes (Zanier 1992, 165-70). The date for the fort's final demise is unknown, but it appears to have been relatively rapid and was probably at the end of the 2nd or beginning of the 3rd century (Allison 2007, 438). This fort was excavated by open plan excavation in the 1980s and published by Werner Zanier in 1992.

Figure 8
Figure 8: Ellingen, distribution of gendered activities, according to activity. Key: A= Agriculture; CS = cutting and sharpening equipment; E = combat equipment; G = gaming items; SM = stone- and metal-working equipment; T = toilet items; W = writing equipment; WL = wood- and leather-working equipment.

The distribution of artefacts associated with gendered activities indicates concentrations of stone and metal-working equipment, with the next most prolific activity being cutting and sharpening (Figure 8). There seems to be a notable dearth of combat equipment in this fort, and only one artefact that was positively identifiable as combat dress. However, there is a scattering of artefacts associated with cloth production, notably in the north and south corner towers and around the porticoes of Building B.

Building C has the greatest concentration of all types of artefacts at this site. Zanier suggested (1992, 69-70) that this was rubbish, re-deposited in this building to make a foundation for a new floor, either c. AD 150 or AD 182. He surmised that this material must have been brought in from outside the fort because it contained infant skeletal remains and tubular tiles, of the type used for hypocaust heating and which he felt were unlikely to have been used in the buildings in this fort (Zanier 1992, 69, 72, 93).

Figure 9 Figure 10
Figure 9: Ellingen, distribution of infant and adult skeletal remains.
Figure 10: Ellingen, distribution of tubular tiles.

However, infant, or perinatal, skeletal remains (Figure 9) and tubular tiles (Figure 10) occur elsewhere within the fort. Many of the infant remains were found in pits and as partial skeletons, suggesting that they were in situ burials. Such fragile partial skeletal remains are most unlikely to have survived any re-deposition. It is more probable that infant burials were dug into re-deposited material in Building C and, therefore, that they are associated with the activities of this fort, and possibly with those of this building (for detailed discussion see Allison 2007, 408-412, 429-431).

Figure 11
Figure 11: Ellingen, distribution of artefacts associated with women and children, according to gender. Key: FE = female-related; ZFE = possibly female-related; ZFE_CH = possibly female- or child-related; CH = child-related.

The distribution plot for other female- and child-related artefacts at Ellingen bears this out, particularly definite female material in Well 4 and in the main street area outside Building C (Figure 11). It is difficult to assess how much of the material within Building C was re-deposited, but some, at least, of the female- and child-related artefacts were certainly found in levels above the proposed re-deposited material and so would have belonged to the later occupation of this building (compare Graph 2 with 3).

Other areas which had the main densities of women's and children's artefacts were the streets and gateways (e.g. in Well 1 in the central area which Zanier dated to Period 1 (1992, 97-8)), but also Building B. The workshop and administrative areas (e.g. Building D, Area G, and Buildings A and E), had a dearth of female-related material. Two possibly female-related artefacts were found in the upper levels of the latrine associated with this Building F (Shaft 6). Zanier identified this building as the commander's house during Period 2 (1992, 86). However, a greater density of female- and child-related material was found in Building B. The prominence of female-related material in Well 4 and the likelihood that infant burials were cut into the re-deposited material under the floor in Building C, suggests that women lived in this building, at least after AD 182.

Thus, the distribution of female- or child-related artefacts at Ellingen indicates that buildings identified as soldiers' barracks, Buildings B and C, had considerable quantities of such material, including most of the infant burials. This implies that women and families were living in this fort, probably with ordinary soldiers, very probably before Septimius Severus' marriage reforms of AD 197, and irrespective of the legitimacy of such families (for more detailed distribution plots for Ellingen, see Allison 2007).


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