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' high rocky plateau of the Terravecchia.  The main castle is not on the highest point of the crag, but lies to the northeast.  It consists of 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.  Amongst the cluster is what looks in plan like an internal Roman fort tower!  To the northeast is a small, backless projecting turret, while centrally in 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 mostly 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 Sojourns.


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