The historical development of fortification architecture
The Norman presence
Molise preserves historical evidence of the Norman presence, consisting of
archive documents as well as remains of sacred and, more especially, fortification architecture. The latter often appears deformed by subsequent modifications,
but can nonetheless contribute to outline part of the history of the Norman presence in Europe with a fair degree of accuracy.
It is impossible, at this stage of the research, to compile a catalogue of fortifications that can be ascribed with absolute certainty to Norman construction,
given the insufficiency of archive documents and the scarcity of “on site” studies conducted up to this time. For the time being, we hypothesise that the
following buildings are Norman: the Mennella keep (a donjon with escarped base, served by a cistern, rising inside a wide enclosure that preserves
architectural remains referable to various ages) ; the Riporse castle in Longano (enclosed by a wall reinforced by an escarpment and defended by circular corner
towers) ; the Roccamandolfi fortress (organised around the stronghold, with an enceinte built on an outcrop of rock and equipped with projecting turrets); the
enclosed Pesche castle (a small donjon rising from an escarped base, protected on the mountain side by a moat and a long enclosing wall) ; the
Roccapipirozzi castle (an enceinte encircles the cylindrical keep) ; the Oratino tower (isolated by an escarpment on a rocky ridge, the entrance is raised to
the first floor); the Tufara castle (the Normans probably enhanced an older building, which was previously protected by a palisade) ; the Termoli tower
(square-based keep incorporated in more recent structures).