San Vincenzo al Volturno , Molise

San Vincenzo Volturno, March 1999 – March 2000

Castel San Vincenzo (Molise)

Atrium wall and eastworks of the church of San Vincenzo Maggiore

The medieval monastic centre of San Vincenzo al Volturno is located on the Rocchetta plain overlooking the deep gorge cut by the River Volturno, on the edge of the Abbruzzo mountains, some 190km south-east of Rome.

The San Vincenzo Project began in 1980 as a collaboration with the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Molise. Its focus was the small frescoed crypt of ‘San Lorenzo’ (later known as the Crypt Church) that was in urgent need of conservation. Over the following 18 years, a large multi-disciplinary project was undertaken on the wider monastic complex involving archaeologists, historians and art historians. In March 2000, a resistivity survey was commissioned by the director of the San Vincenzo project Dott. Federico Marazzi, over an area related to the 8th and 9th century monastic buildings at the site; San Vincenzo Minore and the basilica of San Vincenzo Maggiore.

Extensive excavations had already been undertaken on these structures. Work in the 1980’s concentrated on the site of San Vincenzo Minore, and from 1992 excavations took place on San Vincenzo Maggiore. However little work was carried out on the area directly between these sites. A resistivity survey had been conducted in 1993 that suggested archaeological remains were present to the south of San Vincenzo Minore (Jordan 1993), but this survey was primarily concentrated elsewhere.

A more complete evaluation of the area was thus required, principally to allow the location of trenches for excavation work in the 2000 season. The survey aimed to produce a plan of the sub-surface archaeological features relating to the churches of San Vincenzo Minore and San Vincenzo Maggiore.


Survey being undertaken using an RM15 resistance meter at San Vincenzo al Volturno

The results of the survey clearly indicate the nature and form of archaeological material associated with the excavated structures. They illustrate the substantial nature of the monastic complex to the west of the Volturno River, suggesting an elaborate eastwork and entrance to the basilica of San Vincenzo Maggiore, and a substantial structure enclosing the area between this basilica and San Vincenzo Minore. Within this enclosed space, a number of interesting structures were recognised, including a circular building and other structures that relate to the eastwork of the basilica.

Further Reading

Delogu, P. (1996) Per lo studio di San Vincenzo al Volturno: stato dei problemi. In Marazzi, F. (Ed.) (1996) San Vincenzo al Volturno: Cultura, Istituzione, Economia. Abbazia di Montecassino.

Hodges, R. (1997) Light in the Dark Ages: The Rise and Fall of San Vincenzo al Volturno. London; Duckworth.

Jordan, D. (1993) Geophysical Survey at San Vincenzo, Molise, Italy. (Unpublished).

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