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The Limes - Danger on the Roman Frontier

The Limes, Rome’s bulwark against the barbarians, was a massive structure including huge walls, palisades and ditches. All along it settlements sprang up, based on army camps and protected by the massed legions of the Empire. But how much of a threat were the barbarians in fact? To what extent were the towns and cities in danger, and what happened when the superpower of classical times showed weakness? How effectively did it deal with the "danger at the Limes"?