Caltavuturo would appear to be another Byzantine fortress, possibly of
the early ninth century. In 851/852 the Muslims raided the
district around Caltavuturo and took the fortress.
This seems to have led to their submission of the locals for in 860 the
people of Caltavuturo were said to have broken their pact with the
Muslims when they revolted on the arrival of a new Byzantine army in
the district. As a consequence they were again subdued after the
army was destroyed. In
881/2 the Byzantines annihilated a Muslim army near here, but the
status of the castle is not recorded, although the implication is that
it was Muslim held as it was described as Qal'at Abi Tawr. This has been translated as the castle
of Abu Tawr, though it is possible that Tawr/turo is merely tower. Abut Tawr is said to an Aghlabid commander. In
later fighting in 938-939, Caltavuturo was taken in the course of the
repression of the anti-Fatimid revolt. In c.970 Caltavuturo
was mentioned in the list of Sicilian cities made by Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Al-maqdisi, otherwise known as Al-muqaddasi.
With the Norman invasion of Sicily Roger
Hauteville (d.1101) won a skirmish near Calatabuturum in 1063, but probably did
not take the castle until the fall of Palermo in 1072, if the unmentioned castle was actually defensible at all. By
1081 it was included among the appurtenances of the diocese of
Troina and in 1084 was given to Count Roger's
daughter, Matilda (d.1132+) and her husband, Count Rainulf of Alife and
Avellino (d.1139). On their deaths the castle returned to the
royal demesne, although it was given to Roger Aquila in 1177.
In the Book of Roger (1154), Caltavuturo is described as hisn, a strong
castle. The fortress was one of only 4 that held out for King William III against the Emperor Henry VI (d.1197) in December 1194. With this the fortress passes into obscurity, although
in 1283 it was recorded amongst the places taxed by King
Peter (d.1285). It was still recorded as a fortified land in 1308 and in c.1355
when it was called Calatabuturum cum castro.
During this period the castle passed from the control of Frederick
Manna who died before 1330 to that of the families of Spadafora,
then to Moncada, then Rosso and finally to Luna in the fifteenth
century. An inventory drawn up early in the fifteenth century
mentions stables, armories, kitchens, chambers, bedrooms, barns and
cellars. There was also a mill. King Martin of
Aragon (d.1409) and Queen Maria of Sicily (d.1402) later granted the
fortress to Count Anthony Ventimiglia.
Presumably it fell out of use soon after this and by 1500 the town had
moved in a southerly direction outside the walls. The new
village was called Terranova, while the old town of Terravecchia was
left totally abandoned by 1750.
There would seem to be the remains of 3 separate structures on the crag
which occupies the highest point at the southeast end of the 2,300'
plateau of the Terravecchia. The main castle is not on the
highest point of the crag, but lies to the northeast. It consists
a rhomboid enclosure about 110' by 100' and has a cluster of irregular
buildings to the southeast, which includes a projecting D shaped tower
to the southwest. This commands a hole in the wall gate.
the cluster is what looks in plan like an internal Roman fort
To the northeast is a small, backless projecting turret, while
the west wall are the remnants of a rectangular tower keep with a
cistern in the basement. The southwest part of the fort is badly
ruined. Elsewhere some of the walls are up to 33' high and are
5-6' thick. The whole is rubble built with some fine quoining.
At the summit of the crag to the northwest is a battleship shaped flat area
which may mark the site of an early Byzantine fortress, similar to those listed under Aci.
Beneath this to the south are the foundations of a large building,
probably the church of SS Salvatore. West of this are a
series of rectangular chambers.
Why not join me at other Sicilian
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry