The barrier of Roccamurata


A little further downstream from the town of Roccamurata, a large black rock, an offshoot of the imposing Groppo di Gorro above, stands in the way of the waters of the Taro, which thus find themselves facing a very tenacious intruder. The waters, not at all intimidated, have smoothed and sculpted these rocks, until they are smooth as glass, managing not only to get around them, but creating beautiful, deep natural pools of emerald green waters around them.

A very particular and very suggestive environment has been created, unfortunately disturbed by the annoying noises that come from the highway above and by the specimens of homo graticulus who love to hide in this area, dedicating themselves to activities typical of this species, such as grilling dubious skewers and chops. origin and drink beers of the lowest quality, then leaving their deplorable traces everywhere.

These rocks that obstruct the river create a real lock, a bottleneck, which in ancient times was used as a place of control and garrison, being an obligatory passage for the communication routes that rose from the swamps and the Po Valley cities to head towards the land of Luni . Here there was most likely a Byzantine border and the place preserves traces of probable ancient fortifications which are difficult to date.

On the hydrographic left, above a steep rocky wall, there is a plateau, now wooded, where the land appears artificially leveled and along whose edge runs a wall, or rather a double ring of walls, along which there are two bases squares, perhaps foundations of lost towers. In the 1930s, some burials were found in this area, covered by stone slabs, where funerary objects with some weapons were found. According to the story of some elderly local inhabitants, this plateau was the scene of battle. According to scholars, it could be the remains of Byzantine fortifications, indeed in this very place the limes, the border, between the dominions of the Byzantines and the Lombards could have run.

Again according to some local "legends", all the stones with which these walls were built were collected by a peasant woman named Betta who once lived in this area, near the current town of Castoglia, a name that has a vague assonance with the Byzantine Kastron Kampsas, that is, a Byzantine castle which, according to some scholars, must have been located in an unspecified location along the Taro valley.

The Betta, who lived an unknown number of generations ago, and who none of those who tell this story have ever met, would have collected the stones to clear the plateau and make it cultivable, hence the designation of the place as "the Betta's plans". Of course, it is quite unlikely that a single peasant woman found so many stones as to build a double wall on average one meter high, two meters wide and about 180 meters long, equipped with two square bases and some openings, similar to access gates.

Naturally all this is left abandoned to its fate, and there is no longer any trace of the funerary objects.

In the next few days I plan to do a reconnaissance with the drone and a visit to the woods, to look for some traces of this ancient and mysterious past.


Angelo Ghiretti - Archeologia e incastellamento altomedievale nell'appennino parmense - ediz. Centro Studi Val Ceno - 1990