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High Tech Engineering: The Roman Rhine Bridge

Re-construction of anoaken-support, 1882.The Romans had erected a bridgehead on the east bank of the Rhine directly across from Mainz proper in the section called Castellum. During the first years of the offensive against the Germanic tribes to the north and east, they first built a pontoon bridge. This was replaced around the year 27 A.D. with a permanent structure. It consisted of at least 21 stone-piling supports 18-meters (about 58.5-feet) long and seven meters (22.75-feet) wide which supported a 12-meter/39-foot wide, multi-lane thoroughfare.

This very large undertaking was no mean feat. It was proof of the Romans’ extremely high level of engineering. The supporting pilings were made of large blocks of stone which were then inserted in so-called iron-shoes, metal caissons enveloping the pylons driven into oaken-supports on the river’s bed.

The remains of this Roman bridge still can be seen downstream, just to the north of the Theodor-Heuss-Bridge linking Mainz with Mainz-Kastel as Castellum is now called.

Presentation of the first, permanent bridge across the Rhine can only be seen in the form of a bronze relief plaque on the Theodor-Heuss-Bridge which is about 100-meters, or 325-feet upstream from where it stood.


The Banks of the Rhine, the Theodor-Heuss-Bridge