Brisighella (Ravenna) - The castle of Rontana

Partial view of the excavation area

Archaeological mission coordinator/director

Enrico Cirelli, Debora Ferreri

Research Area and ERC Panels

Activation date of the campaign and duration

  • Starting date: 2007
  • Duration: two months


The castle of Rontana is a medieval settlement located in the Parco della Vena del Gesso Romagnola, on the heights that dominate the Lamone valley, a few kilometers from Brisighella. The site was frequented in the proto-historic period between the 9th and 8th centuries. B.C. and later abandoned. Excavations have shown that the heights were occupied successively at the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th century, perhaps with a Byzantine military fort of which new evidences are being documented and subsequently by a cemetery area, which has given at the moment beyond 60 burials, associated with a high ground church documented for the first time at the end of the 9th century and of which traces of the architectural elements have been found (capitals in Proconnesian marble, columns in Red Verona marble).

As early as the 10th century, the site is protected by a wooden fortification and a centralized population resides there. The summit area, on which the parish church of S. Maria is also located, is now protected by a wide ditch cut in the rock (gypsum). In the following centuries the site was protected by several stone walls and different types of dwellings were built, both cut in the rocky bank and built with mixed techniques characterized by stone bases and timber walls, organized around a system of road typical of contemporary fortified villages. A significant renovation was carried out at the end of the 13th century, with the construction of a powerful fortress on the highest elevation of the site and with new articulated defences with walkway built over large stone arches and three different fortification lines. At the centre of the castle there is also an open area with productive functions related to an iron tools workshop, bone objects, glass and an oven for the production of bread for community use.

Other adaptations are made in the 15th century, with the strengthening of the defensive walls through brick curtains and with the construction of ogival towers the corners of the fortress and arquebusier posts suitable for new siege techniques. The castle was destroyed in AD 1591 and later definitively abandoned.


The ruins of the Rontana castle