In our research on Roman workbenches and holdfasts, Suzanne Ellison has turned up some images I’ve not seen before that are a remarkable reminder that our tools, mouldings and hardware haven’t changed all that much in 2,000 years.
Of particular interest has been the Roman fort Saalburg, which was built along the Roman frontier and later abandoned. The fort has been reconstructed and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site – check out the fort’s site here.
Saalburg has become a center of research into Roman material culture and houses many artifacts and volumes or research. Several of the artifacts have become the basis for the planing stop that blacksmith Peter Ross has made for my early Roman workbench.
One of the real gems that Suzanne has turned up is a two-volume set of 1897 books called “Das Römerkastell Saalburg” (The Saalburg Romans), which documents the excavation and artifacts found at the fort.
You can download the volumes for yourself. Volume 1 is an overview of Saalburg and a discussion of the architecture and artifacts. The second volume contains supplementary material, including all of the detailed drawings shown here.
I’ve been staring at these for the last couple days and fairly transfixed by the tools, mouldings and hardware in particular. If you’re into planes, definitely check out Vol. 1, which shows planes found at the bottom of a well.
And check out the nails….
— Christopher Schwarz