The area in which Montereale Valcellina stands has been inhabited for at least three thousand years: the oldest evidence of human settlements dates back to the 14th century B.C., the so-called Bronze Age. Some swords that have re-emerged from the gravel of the Cellina date back to this period, perhaps of a votive nature, linked to the cult of the torrent or of a deity linked to water.
Several excavation campaigns, starting from the 1980s, have brought to light finds that are now collected in the Archaeological Museum, in the seventeenth-century setting of Palazzo Toffoli. The inhabitants of Montereale, thanks above all to the interest of Aldo Colonnello, teacher and librarian, the Menocchio Cultural Circle and the Chei del Talpa group, have followed with participation and amazement the discovery and study of elements of the past by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The Archaeological Museum was opened in 2011.
The remains of the oldest village (14th – 12th century B.C.) have been found on the slopes and on the Colle di Grizzo, Monte Spia and Colle del Castello. From these heights, the entrance to the Valcellina, the ford and the plain can be seen.
In the following centuries, thanks to its strategic position along the piedmont route of passage and trade, the centre experienced periods of great prosperity. The climax was the 5th century B.C., when Etruscan influences from the Po Valley arrived. The ‘House of the dolii’ represents the complexity of several buildings of the period, developed on two levels, one of which is underground. The dolii are the earthenware pots found in this house and containing clues that allow us to reconstruct aspects of everyday life at the time.
Even in the first centuries of Romanisation, the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, the settlement on the slopes along the right bank of the Cellina retained its importance as a place of transit. It is perhaps here that Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia places the mythical Caelina, a flourishing town that had already disappeared at the time the Latin author wrote. The location is not certain, but the assonance with the Cellina river makes one think of today’s Montereale.
With the foundation of Iulia Concordia, towards the middle of the 1st century B.C., the axis of traffic shifted and left the territory of Montereale in a decentralised position. In the Middle Ages, the Lombards arrived, traces of whom remain in the tombs with bone combs and small knives. Between the 11th and 12th centuries, the piedmont road regained importance. Castles and spaces enclosed by walls were built to demarcate the properties of the feudal lords. The Castle on the Hill was built during this period and has also been the subject of archaeological excavations.
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