Basel, Münsterhügel, Murus Gallicus. Foto/Photo: TES.

The Murus Gallicus of Basilia

More than 2000 years ago, the Celts (the tribe of Rauraci) built the first fortification of Basilia, the Murus Gallicus.

Around 80 B.C., the Celtic population sought shelter behind fortified buildings, probably because Germanic tribes appeared. Along the Rhine, fortified centres were built at strategic points, such as on the Münsterhügel.

The settlement was surrounded by a rampart. Trade, crafts and rule were concentrated within this rampart. The settlement was small by the standards of the time. Protection was more important than direct access to water and traffic routes.

A Murus Gallicus, a Celtic rampart, consisted of an earthen wall reinforced on the inside by a framework of wooden beams. A dry stone wall rose up in front.

The Murus Gallicus was about 6 m high and 12 m thick; the moat in front of it at a distance of 6 m was 30 m wide and 8 m deep. The inhabitants crossed the moat over a wooden bridge at the location of today’s Rittergasse.

With the conquest of Gaul (52 B.C.) by Julius Caesar, the defeat of the Celts, including the Rauraci, in 58 B.C. at Bibracte (near Autun, France) and the foundation of Augusta Raurica (Augst) in 44 B.C., Basilia came under Roman control.

The Celtic Wall was demolished in Roman times. Over the last 2 000 years, the inhabitants dumped two-metre-thick layers of building rubble and other waste on the ruins. The moat, however, remained open until the Middle Ages, when it was also filled with rubble and partially overbuilt.

The site is a small archaeological park today. The windows show the remains of the Celtic wall.

Further information: Historical Museum on Barfüsserplatz, Museum of Antiquities and the Ludwig Collection (Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig).