|Pre-norman fortifications and settlements|
Settlements in the longobard period
The migratory movements of populations that in the Middle Ages moved south in search of new land to settle had a strong impact on Molise, a naturally weak region, which left signs that are still quite evident today (the name “Ripabottoni”, for instance, is said to originate from Ripaghotorum, while “Macchiagodena” originates from Maccla-Godini).
After the Byzantines, the region was occupied by the Longobards and incorporated in the Duchy of Benevento; later the Duchy was broken up, and around the year 1000 it was divided into 34 counties, six of which had their seat in Molisian centres (Boiano, Venafro, Isernia, Trivento, Larino and Termoli). Many Molisian castles, such as Campobasso, Roccamandolfi (the Longobard rocca Maginulfi), Termoli, Lucito, Colletorto, Guardialfiera, Castelgiudice, Civitacampomarano and S.Maritino in Pensilis are believed to date back to the Longobard era. The castles of Colli al Volturno, Cerro al Volturno, Scapoli, S.Maria Oliveto and others were built at the beginning of the 10th century in the area of the Terra Sancti Vincentii. The villages were characterised by houses and vegetable gardens protected by a palisade and tower, while all around new land was cleared of trees and put under cultivation. The Longobard fortifications are difficult to recognise because of the numerous transformations that occurred in later periods.
The Longobard presence is sometimes indicated by the survival of significant toponyms, such as the name “fara” (village, family).
During the Longobard period Molise suffered several assaults by the Saracens. Their presence is testified by toponyms such as Macchia Saracena, Torrente Saraceno, Ripa Saracena...