Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-2 (April 2013)Laura I. Kooistra; Marieke van Dinter; Monica K. Dütting; Pauline van Rijn; Chiara Cavallo: Could the local population of the Lower Rhine delta supply the Roman army? Part 1: The archaeological and historical framework
3. The Roman army in the Rhine delta

3.2 Timber for vici structures

It is likely that a camp village, or vicus, was located near each of the forts. Their remains have been found near the forts at Vechten (Vos 1997), Utrecht (Montforts 1995), De Meern (Langeveld in prep.), Woerden (Blom & Vos 2007), Zwammerdam (Haalebos 1977; Ploegaert 2006), Alphen aan den Rijn (Kok 1999), Leiden Roomburg (Brandenburgh 2006; Hazenberg 2000) and Valkenburg (De Hingh & Vos 2005; Vos & Lanzing 2000). However, our knowledge is fragmented, so that we know little about the size and chronology of the vici. Most of the vicus features, however, date from after circa A.D. 70 and from the second century A.D. (e.g. Blom & Vos 2007, 73, 414; Kemmers 2008).

Until now, traces of vici dating to the early or middle of the first century have only been found near the forts of Vechten and De Meern. A vicus seems to have been present at the fort of Vechten from the start (Hessing et al. 1997). The early vicus at the fort of De Meern seems to date to the middle of the first century. The structures consist of houses that have been built adjacent to one another, with yards at the back. The houses were inhabited for a maximum of ten years or so, and then abandoned (Langeveld in prep.). The absence of first-century vici near the other forts may be the result of lack of research or the many disturbances in the soil, which may have wiped out the oldest features. It is also possible that there were no permanent vici in the period from A.D. 40 until the end of the century, when the forts only served to protect shipping, with the exception of the large fort at Vechten (see below). Because only small sections of the vici have been excavated, their size is unknown. The inhabited area around the forts is estimated at several to several tens of hectares.

Unlike the forts, nothing is known about the use of wood in the buildings in the vici in the Rhine delta. Considering the wood use in the fort constructions, however, it seems likely that the buildings in the vicus were also mainly built with local wood. Wood for the early vici at De Meern and Vechten may have come from woodland on the alluvial ridges, although botanical research has shown that these were already largely deforested in the Late Iron Age (Groot & Kooistra 2009). Perhaps this is why alder from woodlands in the flood basins and fen woodlands was widely used in the first century, and oak -- being a far better building wood -- in a more restricted way.