The European Archaeological Park of Bliesbruck-Reinheim (French: Parc archéologique européen de Bliesbruck-Reinheim) is an archaeological park stretching on both sides of the German-French border between the towns of Reinheim (Saarland) and Bliesbruck (Moselle). This cross-border project was created in 1989 and combines excavations and reconstructions of Celtic and Roman finds over an area of more than 70 ha. with exhibition and educational facilities. The grave of the famous Reinheim Celtic Princess was found here and visitors can see an impressive walk-in reconstruction of the burial. On the German side are the foundations of what was once an ornate Roman villa and partially reconstructed outhouses. On the French side are the remains of the small Gallo-Roman town and the partially reconstructed public baths.
The first excavations on the site took place between 1806 and 1809, then in 1879 in the area of the Roman Villa of Reinheim. In 1954 the tomb of the Celtic Princess of Reinheim was discovered in a sand pit and was excavated. Further investigations in 1956 and 1957 revealed that there had originally been three large burial mounds (tumuli) dating from the 4th century BC, of which the princess’ tomb was just the smallest with a diameter of 20 metres. The other two mounds had diameters of 22 metres and 36.5 metres respectively. All three mounds were surrounded by circular ditches of 0.6 metres and 1.2 metres.
The grave of the Princess of Reinheim is dated to the early La Tène Iron Age period, at the beginning of the 4th century BC. The tomb was filled with exceptionally rich funerary objects: a bronze mirror in figurine form, a complete dinner service consisting of two simple bronze plates, a fine bronze jug and two openwork gold cuffs. The princess wore a gold torque around her neck and a gold bangle on her right wrist, two gold rings on her fingers and three rings of gold and glass around her left forearm. The reconstruction of the Princess of Reiheim’s tomb is approximately 100 metres west of the original burial site. Inside the mound are copies of the artifacts exhibited (the originals are in the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory in Saarbrücken).
In the Summer of 1987, systematic excavations work provided evidence of a Roman villa complex consisting of a large palatial residence (pars urbana) and an economic area (pars rustica). This complex was constructed in the 2nd half of the 1st century AD and reached its greatest size during the 1st half of the 3rd century AD. The main building of the pars urbana measured 80 metres from east to west and 62 metres from north to south. It had a rectangular middle section with a wing on either side. One portion of the building in the north end of the west wing was the villa’s private thermal baths with an under-floor heating (hypocaust). The pars urbana was a large courtyard enclosing an area 300 metres long and 135 metres wide and surrounded by a wall. Rectangular buildings which served as workshops stood on either side of the courtyard.
In 2000 an equestrian iron mask with bronze plating was found at the rear of one of the courtyard’s buildings. Used in ceremonial or sporting events, this hinged-visor was attached to a cavalryman’s helmet.
Within 250 metres of the Gallo-Roman villa are the remains of a small settlement or ‘vicus‘ of approximately 20 hectares dating from the middle of the 1st century AD. The excavations revealed that the vicus consisted of a craftsmen’s quarter of 14 terraced-buildings stretching along both sides of a secondary road and used for manufacturing and trade. Here people cooked, baked and produced iron and bronze. The dominant feature of this small city was the monumental public bathhouse complex which has been partially reconstructed and is sheltered by a roof. An eastern artisanal quarter and forum area have yet to be fully excavated. At its peak, the city had more than 100 houses and more than 1,000 inhabitants.
The Saarland and Moselle Valley’s ancient Roman heritage has a lot to offer to tourists and scholars alike. More than 120 antique sights along the Moselle and the Saar rivers, the Saarland and Luxembourg are testament to the Gallo-Roman era north of the Alps (further information here).
Visiting the Archaeological Park of Bliesbruck-Reinheim: The park is open daily from 15th March to 31st October from 10am to 6pm.
The Schwarzenacker Roman Museum (German: Römermuseum Schwarzenacker) is an archaeological open-air museum in Schwarzenacker in Saarland (Germany) with several partly-recreated structures. The museum was constructed by archaeologist Alfonso Kolling who also led the archaeological excavations at the site. The site shows the remains of a Gallo-Roman settlement (the ancient name of which is lost) which existed from the beginning of the 1st century AD until its destruction by the Alemanni in 275 AD. Today visitors can walk among the ruins and replicas of the buildings.
Around 2,000 people inhabited the settlement which covered an area of approximately 25-30 hectares. The inhabitants benefited from the nearby Roman military and trade routes leading from Augusta Treverorum (Trier) to Argentoratum (Strasbourg) and from Divodurum (Metz) to Augusta Vangionum (Worms). This gave rise to a highly prestigious residential, commercial and administrative centre.
The urban planning of the settlement showed a clear Roman influence with streets intersecting at right angles. The main streets were flanked by large drainage channels while covered walkways led to the shop counters and workshops. Fresh water, pumped from deep wells, was supplied by pipelines of clay and wood. A stone relief with Venus, Cupid, and the Three Graces was found in one of the wells. The half-timbered houses of varying sizes were sometimes decorated with high-quality frescoes and ceiling paintings. One house differed from the standard types; it had a hall with a large cellar with a row of five columns running along the centre to support the wooden ceiling of the cellar (two of them were table columns with round stone slabs). Life-size figures were represented on one of the walls of the house. Six bronze statuettes were also found in the cellar: a Genius populi Romani; a seated Mercury with wild boar, a rooster; a standing Mercury; an Apollo, a seated Neptune; and a Victory. The house was probably the seat of a cult.
In the adjoining 18th century Baroque villa, important finds from Roman everyday life are exhibited (although the most important ones are in the Museum of Pre- and Early History in Saarbrücken). In front of the Baroque Edelhaus stand life-size replicas of two unfinished Roman equestrian sculptures which were discovered in 1887 in a Roman quarry at Breitfurt. They weight about 5000 kg each and are considered to be the largest Roman statues found north of the Alps.
The site is open daily from 9am to 5pm from April to October and from 10am to 4pm from November to March. It is closed in December and January.