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The Angevin Castle

a wall of stones
Fig.1 - terracing curtain facing the sea, Angevin period

From the sites investigated, many important indications of the original plan of Castel Nuovo have emerged. Imposing wall structures in Neapolitan yellow tuff have been discovered from the perimeter walls of the present-day building. They correspond to the curtain walls of the Angevin castle; they delimit and fortify a space occupied partly by the palace building and partly by orchards and gardens.

plant of the castle
Floor plan

Against the eastern curtain wall facing the sea (M), which carries traces of wind erosion, stands a structure (L) which is perhaps connected to one of the intermediate towers built on this side (Fig.1).

The eastern wall runs northward, probably linking up with the structure (S) reutilized as a foundation for the eastern boundary of Site 3. This joins up with another curtain wall in direction east-west (O-N), discovered in the northern sector of Sites 2 and 3. At right-angles to this, two wall structures (RQ) of similar building technique stretch towards the east and the west.

The clear plan of the northern area seems to confirm, as historical sources report, that access to the Angevin castle was from the northern side, which had defence structures such as battlements and barbicans. 

The perimeter of the courtyard of the original castle must have been similar to the present one; a stretch of the western wall (Z) can be recognized in the foundation below the present level, in line with the Palatine Chapel. To the east another large foundation structure (P) runs parallel to it. Both walls are connected to wall settings with a east-west orientation (U, V), and they probably divided rooms of the building.

To the east of this zone, where the residential nucleus must have been, there is an open area with walls (X-J-K) and post holes, perhaps where there were fences and wooden arcades. In the south-ast sectorthere are narrow channels (W) and a glazed clay pipe (Y) through which water flowed. Accumulations of black soil typical of medieval urban vegetable gardens occupy the north-east area. In connection with the eastern open spaces was the vaulted enclosure (T) used as the castle's rubbish dump.


The Angevin castle's rubbish dump

ancient stone ruins of the castle's walls
Fig.2 - View of the dump and the Angevin wall

In Site 2 an irregular rectangular structure (T) covered with a vault has been found. On this there lay a solid paving. It is a "dump", with an absorbent bottom perhaps, which was used as a waste-pit or rubblish dump (fig.2).

Two openings empty into this dump on the western and eastern sides for the draining of refluent water and solid refuse. Also, there is a narrow channel on the southern side sloping torwards the exterior, an "overfill" to facilitate the flow of liquids and avoid saturation. It was made by re-using Roman architectual material: sloping toward sthe outside, it carried the liuids away to the open area of the east, making use of an old surface of earthenware fragments. 
The tufo-block walls, sometimes regular and at times rough-hewn, are unplastered and 18-20 centimentres thick. They make a kind of lining against earth, with no structural function in that the cement barrel-vaulted ceiling weigh on the Roman structures below. The height of the vault conditions that of the floor above, causing a staggering of height compared with the set-off of the large northern structure (N-O).
The rubbish dump, which seems to have been included in the external eastern fascia, is closely connected to the Angevin wall (P) to the west, to which one of the waste pipes is connected. The last unloadings of waste in the area, which is brim-full of earth, were probably made in the mid-15th century, during the building of the new castle. It was at that time that a cut was madein the vaulted roof and the floor above. Although it has not been possible to establish a clear stratigraphy, the finding of 15th-century potteryin the upper levels of the dump is to be attributed to the last use of the structure. The filling, which is characterised by the presence of widespread ash, has brought down to us fine dining-hall and kitchen pottery, containers covered inside with fish scales, iron utensils for artisan use, pieces of locks and doors, a horseshoe, a short sword, personal objects of ornamentation, a considerable quantity of nails and a great many animal bones.

Overall, the archeological material in the dump is from the period between the end of the 13th and the first half of the 15th century. The findings lead us to think that the dump was related to service-areas of the Angevin castle, both those relating to kitchens and those to do with artisan work.

Bronze tankard
Bronze tankard

courtly style, and these are exceptional findings on an urban archeological site bcause of their rarity and completeness. The tankard was made with the "fusion technique": the beak and the handle were broken off, while in correspondence with the spout there are nine small holes, which may have acted as a filter to the drink. The itemhad a small lid (though this is missing) fixed to the handle by a small horizontal hinge which allowed it to be opened.

The jug, which has a tall cylindical neck and a tapered rounded body, is in beaten plate. Around the rim is a bronze strip which might have part of a repair. Both containers have a rather unusual shape for early medieval toreutics when one considers, by means of comparison, Italian iconographics of the same period, with their dining and birth scenes. This suggests that they were imported, but this hypothesis can be born out only by the research in progress.
On the other hand, the finding of a siliceous basin decorated in blue beneath an alkaline glaze, of the "Raqqa" type produced between the end of the 12th century and the mid-13th century in Syria and Egypt is evidence of contact with distant civilizations. Another two similar fragments from the excavations of Piazza\Dante and from a different strata of the Castel Nuovo confirm the existence of relations between Naples and the Islamic world and the possibility, judging from the work of the artisans, of cultural influences from very different countries having been received and developed.