Fortifications and castles


Lowland fortifications

Military installations in the lowlands were less frequent. The models referred to were the castrum and the quadriburgium, though they were freely re-interpreted. The first fortifications were constructed by Guiscard and his brother Roger (the first Norman castra are Scribla and later St. Mark in Calabria). Built on the outside of towns or villages, their function was to provide lodging for the troops assigned to policing the area. The term castellum identified both a strong point outside a settlement and light installations erected against the doors of a besieged castrum (after the city was taken, they could be dismantled or transformed into a new strong point); or, at a later date, a real citadel built within the castral burghs. The fortified lowland settlements often played the role of military barracks for troops entrusted with the military organisation of the territory, and later its control. This model, often abandoned in Western Europe, was rediscovered (and integrated with routes exposed to the defenders’ fire, avant-corps, moats and embankments) after the campaigns overseas where it continued to be used.
Four-sided buildings with corner towers (square or circular in shape) were almost always transformed in more recent periods; this is what happened to the palace of Larino, which incorporated the older Norman castle. In Cercepiccola, on the other hand, the castle is still perfectly recognisable. The same models were not uncommonly reused for buildings (noblemen’s palaces) and architectural complexes (often associated with agricultural activities) dating back to the Aragonese or even more recent periods.

In most cases the original enceinte became the nucleus around which towns and villages developed, especially in Lower Molise, such as in Portocannone or S.Croce di Magliano (“Terra cinta di mura con due Porte”, Tria, 1744, divided into two parts, one assigned to the Christians and the other to the Greeks).

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