The excavations concentrated on the south-western area of the site. The south part of the curtain wall, with new rooms attached, was exposed. Trenches were opened on the north curtain wall and on the structures in the central area. The cellar of room G was partially emptied. Two test trenches on the south-western part of the hill confirmed the presence of an archaeological deposit.
The data acquired from three excavation campaigns suggests a number of hypotheses regarding the structures present in the three main identified periods and their spatial distribution.
Period 1 (12th-13th century): foundation and occupation of the first castle of the Cadolingi
The stratigraphy relating to this period had been removed by subsequent restructuring, however a careful analysis of the walls provided enough data for a reconstruction of how the site probably would have looked.
The construction technique of the northern curtain wall, in squared limestone blocks with worked surfaces, is the earliest, but it is not known how far it extended or whether it completely surrounded the hill. It is certain that a large stone structure stood at the centre of the site and the towers A and B probably already existed. The four silos at the centre of the hill probably date to this phase; they were subsequently destroyed by fire during the 14th century. Therefore, the first castle of the Cadolingi, mentioned in medieval documents, probably only originally consisted of a quadrangular stone fortification, to which two stone towers and the silos were added soon afterwards (end of the 12th-13th century?).
Period 2 (14th-first half of the 18th century): refoundation of the castle
Almost all of the structures found date to this period. The new curtain wall had a rectangular plan (circa 15 × 25 m) with a small, square tower in the north-eastern corner. To the east and west the new brick-built wall rested on the foundations of the two large towers. Inside the fortification there were six quadrangular rooms, some with small square structures (well?, storage for dry foodstuffs?). Rooms B and G had cellars accessed by brick-built stairs. The main entrance, in the south curtain wall, opened onto a corridor with a short staircase leading to an open space (room A), delimited by Tower A and Room C, whose upper floor was reached by a staircase. The curtain wall, compromised by land slippage or collapses, was rebuilt during several interventions and reinforced with new facings.
This new structure can be dated to between the end of the 13th and the first half of the 14th century, when Catignano was part of the contado of Florence. The Florentines probably undertook the work of rebuilding the castle, which included the excavation of the central part of the hill with the loss of the floors and walls of the earlier castle.
Period 3 (second half of the 15th-16th century):farm structure and abandonment
Following the destruction of the 14th century castle, which had lost its defensive function, the site was gradually transformed into a farm, exploiting the 14th century rooms but changing their function and organisation. A brick threshold in room H functioned as the entrance to the farm. Some rooms were paved with mezzana tiles. The remains of a stone hearth came to light in room B. The cellars below rooms G and B were reused. The finds from the collapses consisted of the domestic equipment in use on the farm in the 16th century. The structure’s final abandonment was probably caused by a natural disaster, clear evidence of which is visible in the southern part of the site: land slippage, or the earthquake which occurred in the mid 18th century. Subsequently the site was sporadically occupied.
- Sabrina Bartali - Associazione Archeologica Valdelsa Fiorentina
- Marja Mendera - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Marco Valenti - Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti
- Carlo Tronti - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Università degli Studi di Siena
- Associazione Archeologica della Valdelsa Fiorentina
- Comune di Gambassi Terme
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