Sezione Archeologica (Il Medioevo) – Sala VIII – Vetrina 13

Kiln of the post-medieval age


The top shelf shows fragments belonging to a kiln that was discovered during the excavation Workcamp organized and promoted in the summer of 2012 by the Departments of Social Politics and Culture of the Town Council of Cetraro, in collaboration with the Archaeological Heritage Superintendency of Calabria. The excavation was carried out in the area called Istraco, located at the top of the hills of Cetraro, behind the Sanctuary of Monte Serra (650 m approx.). This area is characterized by mixed forests, springs, small streams and clay soils. The excavation operations carried out by the volunteers of the Service Civil International (SCI) and coordinated by Prof. Fabrizio Mollo, archaeologist and professor of Ancient Topography and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces at the Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, allowed for the recovery of a kiln, used in particular to make roofing tiles. The circular structure of the kiln had been heavily damaged by landslides caused by the fragility of the soil and reforestation works made by the State Forestry Corps. The cooking and firing chambers, in fact, were completely buried and filled with fragments of roof tiles and bent tiles of various sizes, and also by refractory material derived largely from the total collapse of the roof. This type of kiln was among the most common in medieval and modern times, composed by a pre-kiln, a firing chamber, a double cooking floor supported by pillars and a dome cover. Due to the proximity to supply sources (i.e. wood, water and clay) the brickmaking kilns were often built in rural areas and used occasionally or for short periods. A recent survey work carried out in the areas adjacent to Istraco revealed a number of underground kilns structurally similar to the one that was excavated, as well as fragments of pottery and remains of structures protruding from the ground, reporting of man-made actions that took place at various times. For which concerns the dating, some logistical and historical reasons led us to think that these kilns were built and used concurrently with the foundation of the nearby village of Sant’Angelo, occurred in the first half of XVI century. According to local historians, in fact, some wealthy families of the centre, in order to escape and protect their assets from the continuous Turkish incursions, were forced to move in the inland of Cetraro, thus giving rise to a new rural settlement that at the end of XVIII century was populated by one thousand people. It is therefore likely that the kilns were built to meet the industrial demand for bricks coming from local construction sites, for the urgent construction of new dwellings, agricultural facilities and workshops in the village.  Once the hamlet of Sant’Angelo was finally built, the kilns and the clay pits were totally abandoned, as this was the norm in the past for the brickyards that were concentrated in rural areas.


fornace loc. l'Istraco - Cetraro

structural remains of the kiln

frammento piano di cottura



fragment of the cooking floor                                                  fragments of tiles with curved profile