The Excavations

Initial research

In 1988 a local academic, Alfio Martinelli, curious about the name “castle” attributed since time began to the hill to the north of Tremona, began his own research into the site, abandoned long before and completely overgrown with woods. Martinelli immediately identified numerous mounds of stones which, though half hidden by vegetation, were to be found in abundance. Their distribution did not seem to be random. In fact, quite the opposite. Initial surveys confirmed the hypothesis that the hill was hiding a real treasure, uncovering shards of pottery, flint tools and metal objects including bronze fibulae, arrowheads and fragments of iron that could be dated to between the Neolithic period and medieval times. From the summit of the hill in Tremona, after centuries of silence, history re-emerged.

The excavations begin

The first real excavations began in 1991 with the permission of the Council of State, leading to a find of numerous medieval coins. The structures that began to emerge were photographically documented. In 1999 the Associazione Ricerche Archeologiche del Mendrisiotto (ARAM) was created with the aim of systematising the work and enabling the various partners to contribute to the restoration of the site. Research continued through the years involving organisations of all kinds: public and private, Swiss, Italian and European, museums and university departments, and laboratories specialising in archaeobiology. From 2002, even trainees from the centre for professional development of the Società Svizzera Impresari Costruttori (SSIC), were involved in the work to reinforce and preserve the structures that had once again come to light.

The settlement rediscovered

The second phase of the excavations began in 2000, revealing the secrets long-guarded by the hill of Tremona. The digs focused on the lower terracing of the hill, where 27 buildings re-emerged from the past, all built of local stone quarried from a small cave on the north-east of the settlement. A model was developed which evolved over time, and the daily life of the castrum’s inhabitants was rediscovered. From the end of 2008 the excavations were extended to the other terraces, bringing to light 24 more buildings. The research has been financed by members of ARAM and by several generous private donors.

The creation of the archaeological park

With such significant discoveries at Tremona-Castello, the various institutions involved - cantonal, local and patrician - were keen to share the excavation findings fully. This led to the creation of the archaeological park, with a two-day inauguration on the 3rd and 4th of September 2016 marked by a historical reenactment of village life. The next milestone is the creation of an Antiquarium, an exhibition space where the finds from the castrum can be conserved and which will provide a setting for the park’s educational and promotional initiatives.