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Trajan’s Wall

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Trajan’s embankment on the Moldovan stamp.
Na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa - Na tych samych warunkach 3.0.

Trajan’s Wall (Valul lui Traian) is a term used for several strings of earth fortifications (valla) discovered in eastern Europe in Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Interestingly, this system of fortifications was not built by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Trajan. It is possible that scholars of the 19th century gave these fortifications such a name. They probably did so to awaken the people there and encourage them to fight for independence.

There are three valla in Romania. The oldest and smallest vallum is 61 kilometers long and stretches from Cetatea Pătulului on the Danube to today’s city of Constanta on the Black Sea. Completely made of earth, it had no defensive structures; however, it had a moat in the southern part. According to scientists, the purpose of this rampart was to protect the people living in the north from the enemy from the south. The second vallum is 54 kilometers long and covers the smaller shaft on some sections. It starts on the Danube and ends in Palas, west of the city of Constanta. The average shaft height is 3.5 meters. There were moats on both sides. 63 fortifications were built on the embankment: 35 larger (castra) and 28 smaller (castella). The average distance between fortifications is 1 km. The last vallum was also built from earth, but there was a stone wall on the ridge of the embankment. The embankment was 59 kilometers long and stretched from the south of the city of Axiopolis (today Cernavodă) to the Black Sea coast. The rampart (agger) was 1.5 meters high when the wall at the top was 2 meters high. The embankment had a moat in the northern part and 26 fortifications. The distance between them was from 1 to 4 kilometers.

In Moldova, there are remains of earth embankments and palisades. Two large fragments of limes have survived in these lands: the upper wall of Trajan and the lower wall of Trajan. The bottom wall is dated to the 3rd century CE and was built by Antharyk, king of the Terwings. The embankment extends between the banks of the Gerasius (current Prut) and the Danube river to the land of Taifali (current Oltenia). It is likely that this shaft replaced the old limesLimes Transalutanus. The upper wall, in turn, was to be built in the 4th century CE commissioned by the Goths to protect the borders against the Huns. Its length is 120 kilometers from the Dniester River to the Prut River.

In Ukraine, the Trajan wall is located in Podolia and extends from the current Kamianets-Podilskyi, through Novaya Ushitsa, to the city of Khmelnytskyi.

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