Between the late Roman age and the first centuries of the Middle Ages
Most of the farms in the Montescudaio territory and surrounding areas were abandoned following the crisis that swept the Roman world in the III century AD. Rare traces of frequentation dating from the IV-V centuries AD have been identified on the hill reliefs of the Scornabecchi woods and not far from Monte Bono, whereas to date there is no known archaeological evidence traceable to the Lombard and Carolingian periods (VII-IX centuries AD).
However, the study of names of places reveals the presence of localities whose name is derived from terms of Germanic origin, such as Bandello and Guardistallo (from ward/a=guard) and Poggio Gagliardo (from gahagium= reserved land, composed with ward).
The ecclesiastical settlement in the Montescudaio territory
Various ecclesiastical foundations likewise date back to a period prior to the year 1000, as evidenced both by the agio-toponyms, i.e. the names of saints they are dedicated to, and by the written sources. In the Montescudaio territory, seemingly quite old is the construction of the Santa Perpetua church in the locality of the same name, attested by archival sources as early as 1022 but in a state of neglect in the sixteenth century until its disappearance before the nineteenth century. Between the 11th and 12th centuries, moreover, other religious buildings were built, such as the parish church of S. Giovanni (St. John) in Castelgiustri and the countryside churches of S. Lucia (St. Lucy) and S. Maria (St. Mary).
The Church of Santa Maria (Saint Mary): origin and first uses
A church dedicated to St. Mary, situated just outside the Montescudaio residential area, has been mentioned in documents since 1004. The archaeological excavations have confirmed the presence of a small early medieval church and an enclosed residential building in the site where, at the end of the 11th century, a female Benedictine monastery with the same name, currently brought back to light in the locality of Badia, was founded.
Archaeological investigations have highlighted not only the existence of buildings and structures we can date back to the 10th and 11th centuries, but also the presence of some burial sites around the old church at least at the end of this period and of kitchen and tableware used by those who had to frequent the adjacent ‘rectory’, as shown in the display case.
Full list of showcases of the Archaeology and History Documentation Centre of Montescudaio (CeDiAS).
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