Molise in the norman period

The historical development of fortification architecture

Molise may be considered a “land of passage”, a region that, in the course of history, has been repeatedly involved in historical events that have deeply affected it; a region that, partly because of this, has always shown a marked vocation to be a “land of castles”. Towers, enclosing walls and castles are always associated with the territory in a number of ways : they control and subject it, but at the same time they depend upon it.  
Fortifications represent one of the most frequent classes of architectural “finds”. Their specificity lies in the fact that they have very high levels of survival and thresholds of vulnerability, since they were designed, built and constantly adapted to new situations precisely for the purpose of resisting as long as possible. The bad condition of some fortifications is not so much due to wars or natural cataclysms, but rather to the fact that castles, once they became useless from a purely military point of view, were often quarried for materials used for new constructions and were subsequently abandoned. From this point of view, Molise has the singularity, often connected with its poverty, of witnessing the constant re-utilisation of ancient buildings, with adaptations which were at times extreme but which were frequently dictated by the simple rule of necessity.  

The presence of fortifications in Molise is a constant feature throughout its history: enclosures from the Samnite age ; fortified camps and walled cities from Roman times; Longobard, Norman, Swabian and Angevin settlements, installations and defensive works; fortified buildings dating back to the Aragonese period. Molisian toponymy is full of place names that refer to fortifications : la Torretta (the Small Tower), la Guardiana (the Guardian), la Rocca (the Fortress), Tre Torrette (Three Towers), la Torre (the Tower), etc... The castle, under these conditions, takes on the role of a primary element for the interpretation of the territory’s history.

The Norman presence