The modest hill of Mountain Castello, immediately behind the Procchio bay, overlooks the northern coast of the Elba Island and occupies a strategic position for the control of the opposite inlets, dominating the plain of Marina di Campo to the south.
Mountain Castello and the mighty walls
On the top of the hill an imposing wall in granite blocks, in addition to fulfilling a defensive function, served as a terrace to expand the flat space. The walls, built in blocks of medium and large dimensions, were set on a laying surface in carefully prepared and connected slabs. The excavation survey was concentrated in the western wing and brought to light a large central room, in communication with a courtyard and with two side rooms close to the boundary wall. The excavation, conducted inside (Saggi II and III) and outside (Saggio l)
of a large rectangular room, revealed the existence of an elevated floor with earthenware floor. On the lower floor, the presence of large dolia containing grain, set on a beaten earth floor, made it possible to interpret the compartment as a warehouse for the storage of foodstuffs. Built on a stone base, the elevation was made of tile bricks and wooden beams ensured the roof. Layers of collapse and traces of combustion preserve the memory of a traumatic event: a destruction followed by a fire, which the most recent research in the field allows to fix at the first decades of the third century BC The connection proposed up to now with the initial events of the First Punic War (263-241 BC)
The Birth of the Fortress
The fortress of Monte Castello was born at the end of the fifth century BC, acquires great importance in the fourth century, when the exploitation and processing of Elban ore experienced a strong increase, to cease to be a “bulwark in defense of iron” towards the middle of the III century BC
If Castiglione di S. Martino survives its destruction and is rebuilt and inhabited throughout the 2nd century BC, Mountain Castello di Procchio does not seem to share the same fate. The reoccupation of the hill did not have to be neither important nor long-lasting and could perhaps be associated with the troubled period of civil wars, given that the moment of definitive abandonment can in all probability be placed at the end of the 1st century BC.
Mountain Castello di Procchio (mid 5th – mid 3rd century BC)
The fortress stands on the top of a hill overlooking the Procchio bay to the north and the plain that extends towards Marina di Campo to the south, in a strategically very important position for controlling the opposite inlets. The top of the hill is completely enclosed by an imposing wall, well preserved and visible, which in the southwestern area could reach four meters in height. The walls, built with large blocks of granite, also performed a terracing function, to expand a space that the steep slope makes in itself very limited. A series of excavation campaigns, begun in 1977, has brought to light various environments that have returned materials dating back to between the end of the fifth and the middle of the third century. BC More ancient finds, consisting of scant fragments of Attic pottery, document a presence from the mid-fifth century. on; the discovery of a miniaturistic votive kyathos (cup with a vertical handle) and a terracotta male head suggest the existence of a cult area. During the IV century, and especially between the second half of the IV and the first decades of the III, the abundance and the remarkable quality of the material (plates of Genucilia and overpainted ceramics of Etruscan factory, cups of the Atelier des Petites Estampilles, Punic amphorae and Greco-Italic) are proof of considerable economic prosperity. At the end of this period, probably due to the advance of the Roman conquest, Monte Castello was destroyed around the middle of the III (perhaps in 259 BC). The material presented here is all dated between the end of the 4th and the first half of the 3rd century. B.C; it comes from a single environment used largely as a warehouse for foodstuffs, stored in large doli and amphorae; among these, the Punic were found still full of wheat, charred in the fire that marked the destruction of the fortress. The remaining complex of the excavation, which illustrates its entire life span, is exhibited at the Marciana Museum.