Chapter 2:
The Survival of the Ancient Landscape

This chapter begins with a brief survey of whole cities which
were more or less abandoned, the structures of which survived.
It then focusses closer, dealing with inhabited towns which
retain some of their monuments, and concludes with descriptions
of those surviving antique features which contributed to the
complexion of the mediaeval landscape.


Abandoned antique cities

Admiration for the abandoned splendours of antique civilisation
is a frequent topos throughout the Middle Ages, from the
eighth-century Anglo-Saxon The Ruin (Crossley-Holland
1982, 55f.) to the wonder reflected in epic literature. Some
inhabitants felt pride in the antique attainments of their city,
as we know from the episode in the anonymous Life of S.
(4.viii) when the city reeve showed him the well and
the walls of Carlisle, `built in a wonderful manner by the
Romans'. The same story appears in Bede's Life (27). Even
in low-key accounts, wonder is a predominant theme: John the
Deacon, supervising the uncovering of the remains of S. Sosius
at Misenum in 906, looked out of the church window `and I
wondered to myself not only at its situation ... but at the
enormous industry of the ancients' MGH Script. rer. Lang.,
461) - although the industry he admires seems to relate mainly
to the thoroughness with which they entombed the saint! The
topos is often used to contrast present decadence with antique
splendour, as in the thirteenth-century Emperor Theodore II
Lascaris' letter describing a visit he made to the ruins of
Pergamon: `The city is full of theatres, grown old and decrepit
with age, showing us as through a glass their former splendour
and the nobility of those who built them ... Such things does
the city show unto us, the descendants, reproaching us with the
greatness of ancestral glory. Awesome are these compared to the
buildings of today ... The works of the dead are more beautiful
than those of the living' (cited from Mango 1963, 69).

In Italy, there were plenty of abandoned cities available to
the Middle Ages (survey in Schmiedt 1974); outside Italy and
Gaul, indeed, abandoned antique cities and villas awaited their
discoverers for centuries, for there was insufficient population
to inhabit them all. Thus to judge by Buondelmonti's description
of Crete in the early fifteenth century, large quantities of
sculptures, sarcophagi and architectural members were visible;
at Delos, he even helped in an unsuccessful attempt to set the
colossal archaic statue of Apollo (now fragmentary) back on its
pedestal (Weiss 1969, 136f.).

Suasa Senorum and Carsulae

In Italy, many abandoned cities may have survived the earlier
Middle Ages only to have much of their stone robbed out in the
later Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Sites such as Suasa,
halfway between Ancona and Urbino, cannot have been rare.
Supposedly destroyed by Alaric, and then deserted, its
antiquities decorate the buildings of the surrounding
countryside (Giorgi 1953, 12ff.); even in the 1870s one could
pick up there `pieces of tessellated pavement in sufficient
quantity to make a new one' (Not. Scavi 1878, 61) - and we know
that the site had already been explored in the sixteenth
century. Carsulae is similar, with many of its stones being used
to build nearby San Gemini and Cesi, and centres further afield
such as Orvieto (Schmiedt 1974, 596f.; Ciotti 1976, 45f.).


Robbing also destroyed parts of Paestum which, contrary to
received opinion, was well known to the Neapolitan antiquaries
of the Renaissance. One of these, Pietro Sumonte, wrote as
follows to Marcantonio Michiel in 1524: `In Paestum or
Poseidonia, a ruined city, the walls are complete, for the most
part with their towers, and inside are three temples ... Not far
from Paestum may be seen the ancient city of Velia where there
are still many ruins' (Laveglia 1971, 194; 196ff. for other
sixteenth-century accounts). Why had Paestum been largely
abandoned (but cf. the thirteenth and fourteenth-century
pottery, coins and glass from the site in the museum)? The
reasons are not clear, but probably include an encroaching sea
line and associated drainage difficulties, and the Saracen
depredations (ibid., 185ff.).


A similar case is that of ancient Aecae, destroyed in the
seventh century, from which Troia was founded in 1019, and the
ruins of which provided not only inspiration for the masons of
the new cathedral, but material as well. De Santis (1967,
Appendix 1, 181ff.) reprints excerpts from the Historia
inventionis corporis S. Secundini
, of before 1063, wherein it
is stated that the ruins of the old city were visible in
`monuments or heaps of rubble ... even to this day they are
decorated with valuable ornament, or with marble. May they so
shine that it be granted to everyone to understand that they
belonged to noble and mighty inhabitants'. Therefore the
citizens wishing to build the new cathedral began `to search
around hither and thither so that they might find rubble
and squared stones as building material'. Tombs were
clearly a good source of building stone, and the account seems
to suggest that the finding of Secundinus' remains was
fortuitous, as they were able to `seek out mausoleums amongst
the ancient stones and, at length, hard by the church of Saint
Mark, which was located there, they found plenty of tombs' -
amongst them that of the saint. Presumably the spolia in San
Basilio, Troia, also come from Aecae, as Vergara (1981B, 59)


Smaller populations, the abandonment of trading routes, or
changed routes, meant that some communities died out completely
in the course of the Middle Ages. One such was the Republican
city of Cosa, on the coast about 70 miles north of Rome, which
began to decline even before the Empire. Another was Luni, which
was badly affected by the decline of the marble trade from the
nearby quarries - its main source of income in earlier days. It
is difficult to assess the relative importance of a whole
catalogue of ills for the decline of the city - bad sanitation,
poor drainage (which would affect both sanitation and crops) and
an incipient malarial swamp vie with demographic changes as
likely explanations: perhaps Luni was, as Hodges suggests (1983,
30ff.), a paradigm for the fate of classical cities elsewhere.
In the eyes of Dante this site (and that of Urbisaglia)
encouraged the well-worn theme of the mortality of all things
human; he focusses (Paradiso 16, 73-8) not on the
monuments of the site - some of which were surely still standing
- but on two old houses, which indicates the nature of his
interest (Bracco 1965, 292). Dante's is a common theme,
heightened by the propensity to believe not only in `an
indissoluble connection between Graeco-Roman civlisation and the
urban milieu', but also that any imposing set of ruins marked
the ruins of a town (Harmand 1961, 22f.); such a deduction is
logical, for how else might one explain the existence of baths
in the middle of the countryside?

Luni, indeed, is one of the few sites where modern
investigations (cf. Ward-Perkins 1978) have shown the post-Roman
history of a classical site. Excavations in the Capitolium area
have shown the disuse of the public buildings from about the end
of the fourth century (Capitolium itself, and Great Temple), and
the transfer of life to the Forum, but this in its turn was
abandoned by the sixth century or earlier. Part of the portico
east of the Great Temple was apparently put to commercial use;
and a suite of late antique baths, too small to be anything
other than those of a private villa, have walls with material
from the Capitolium (including its paving) in the foundations,
dated to the fourth or fifth century, and luxurious enough to
include a garden. Perhaps both garden and baths belonged to the
adjacent Casa dei Mosaici to the west, which has a circus
mosaic, probably of the fourth century. The despoliation of the
Capitolium, however, did not entail its abandonment; for as late
as the eighth century it was occupied, although simply as
foundations for wooden houses. Much the same happened to the
Forum from which, by the mid-sixth century, paving and steps had
been systematically robbed out. At about the same date, the
great Christian basilica was built - proving both the will and
the ability to build, albeit at the expense of the public
monuments which clearly suffered from the rise of Christianity.
Burials were also made within what was left of the city: graves
datable to c. 640-700 have been found around the theatre;
there are several under the portico of the Great Temple (Luni
1977, 664ff.), and more on the Forum, including one directly on its
marble paving, and others under slabs of paving. All such tombs
are certainly Christian.

As Ward-Perkins remarks (1978, 43), this serious change from
public-spiritedness to private interests must reflect the
decline in local political power at the expense of that of the
Imperial civil service. Parallels can be drawn with Corinth
(Scranton 1957, 27ff.), and with Ostia, where private
construction also becomes the rule (Becatti 1949, 44f., where the
main reason for the decline of that city from the end of the
third century is presented as a commercial one). And in Ostia,
as at Luni, the actual level of the ground rose (Calza 1953,
162; deliberately at Luni, especially over the Basilica and
portico: Ward-Perkins 1978, 38; on Ostia in the Middle Ages cf.
Tomassetti vol 5, 332ff.).

Luni was probably much visited throughout the Middle Ages
because it was on the road between Genoa and points south.
Donatello and his generation turned over some of its soil in the
hunt for antiquities (Greenhalgh 1982, 11f.), but the earliest
reference that there seems to be to a viewing of its antiquities
is of 1386, when it was visited by Domenico di Bandino of Arezzo
on his way between Florence and Genoa (nor was this the only
visit there by Domenico: Hankey 1957, 121 and  n. 50).

Capua Antica

Other abandoned antique cities played a much more `constructive'
role in later history - such as Capua Antica, the stones of which
were not left in peace after its death in the Second Punic War,
but rather used to build the new town, practically a Longobard
fortress. According to tradition, the stones of the Roman city
were used to build the cathedral of Capua and its Campanile, as
well as the tower of the Marzano family. Indeed, spolia are
encountered everywhere in the city.


It was several hundred years before Luni was itself used as the
raw material for the city of Sarzana, and a fruitful ground for
Florentines in search of antiquities. Other cities had a role as
fruitful if more fanciful to fulfil. The city of Rome was, of
course, the main focus of interest in antique grandeur, and in
associated political prestige, but there were smaller sites such
as the city of Angera on Lake Maggiore, which came into the
Milanese sphere of influence as early as the ninth century.
Stefanardo da Vimercate praises its antique grandeur in part of
a poem (written between 1277 and his death in 1297), and evokes
the ruins scattered throughout the fields. It was from those
ruins that fourteenth-century authors built up a much more noble
history for Angera than it had ever in fact possessed: it was
said to have been founded from Troy, by Anglus, thereby neatly
bypassing Rome herself and - the main object of the exercise -
giving a splendid genealogy to the Visconti (Ratti 1967-8,
265ff.). The fifteenth century continued the fables, more or
less bolstered by the antiquities which came to light (Ratti,
1969-70). Alciati, writing in 1523, describes the surviving
splendours of the city, `whose antiquity can still be
demonstrated by its many Roman monuments. There are extant in it
statues, tombs, temples finely constructed, and marbles, in
which the hand of the ancients is easily recognised' (Ratti
1972-3, 12, n. 3). Some of these may have been amongst the
antiquities collected by Carlo Borromeo (died 1537), who was
Governor General of the region. In other words, they certainly
existed, and were not merely a figment of Alciati's imagination
and eloquence (or not entirely: cf. Ratti 1972-3, 24, n. 49);
and the account of Nicola Pacediano (ibid., 24, n. 47) confirms
this: `now indeed Villa is completely deserted, and full
of brambles. The solid foundations of buildings for two miles
around still rise above the thorns and bushes. Shining fragments
of marble, half eaten away, and with practically obliterated
inscriptions, are strewn all around and liable to make
travellers stumble'.

The Longevity of Roman Monuments

That many towns of Roman origin have not retained their ancient
monuments is evident; some, like Milan ( Mompellio Mondini
1943), probably began to lose them in the early centuries of the
Middle Ages. Others, like Arles, have kept them to our own day:
there, the columns of the forum were standing in the fifth
century, and the circus, theatre and amphitheatre still in use
(Benoit 1951, 34); two columns of the forum, and sections of
pediment, still survive. Yet others, like Aquileia, were
deliberately razed: `What once was a noble city is now - alas! -
a cave for rustics' (MGH Poet. lat. aev. Carol. 1, 142ff.,
attrib. Paulinus of Aquileia). But are generalisations
possible, which will serve for Italy and Gaul and maybe Britain?
Perhaps, if we omit those cases where the grid pattern has been
overlaid by irregular streets, which surely must betoken as
little regard for the old monuments as it does for the old
pattern. In northern Gaul, few towns are believed to show the
Roman grid, except for Autun, Limoges and Senlis; the pattern
can, perhaps, also be made out in the cases of Rouen, Orleans
and Bourges (Pinon 1978, 390); although in Provence and Italy
there are many more examples. Naturally, those monuments which
survived did so because a use could be found for them (Schmiedt
1978, 90f.).

But deciding when and how cities lost those monuments is
usually difficult - as difficult as assessing the longevity of
Roman concepts about urban life (Mengozzi 1931, 141ff. for
Italy). Town walls are vulnerable during periods of expanding
population. Monumental buildings sometimes take on a renewed
life, and even temples are converted. Not unnaturally the forum,
as the centre of civic life in a Roman town, tended to survive
as the market place in the Middle Ages, even if the surrounding
buildings did not (Mengozzi 1931, 236ff. gives 14 examples); the
place was often enshrined simply in the survival of the name, as
perhaps at Lucca, in a document of 845 (AIMA 1.405A).

Before looking at the survival of monuments in towns, , we
shall examine some indications of survival in the countryside.

The survival of Roman roads

The practicalities of the Roman road system were inescapable in
the Middle Ages, as perhaps the Tabula Peutingeriana (late
twelfth or early thirteenth century) indicates. Even scholars
like Petrarch, more concerned with accounts in ancient authors
than with the evidence on the ground, were impressed (Luttrell
1976). Not only do we find milestones frequently mentioned in
Gregory of Tours (e.g. HF 2.37; 6.45), but we find
road-building material re-used in mediaeval building projects,
because it was too valuable to be neglected: at Tuscania, for
example, blocks from the Roman road were incorporated in
haphazard fashion into a later road (Garzella 1980, figs 1, 10),
while at Ferrara they were ripped up for use in the seventh- or
eighth-century castrum and, when this became obsolete, probably
used again in later mediaeval buildings (Uggeri-Patitucci 1974,
135f, and  figs 10, 14). At Milan and Verona, we know that the
Roman paving survived in place until at least c. 739 and
c. 800 respectively (Ward-Perkins 1984, 185).

In the countryside, in both Italy and Gaul, many of the old
roads were still in use (e. g. Belli Barsali 1973, 468ff. for
Lucca intra and extra muros; Quilici 1983, 410 for the Duchy of
Spoleto). They still are, of course; and in several cases they
are still lined with the remains of once imposing funerary
monuments (e.g. via Amerina: Frederiksen 1957; or `La
Sarrasinière' (Ardèche), on what is now the RN 86: Burnand
1979); large quantities of like stelai and monuments were
available to the Middle Ages, for the practice of placing
cemeteries by roads was maintained (for example by the
Merovingians: e.g. Gallia 31, 1973, 394ff.); and even when the
ancient cemeteries were abandoned, the roads remained (as at
Trinquetaille, Arles: Gallia 32, 1974, 509). Bridges -
frequently called `marble bridges' also served them (Allodi
1885, 28 anno 998, in the Regesto Sublacense). For other roads,
their `Romanitas' is remembered in their names, as Palestra
(1980) shows in his study of the area of Milan, and Pellegrini
(1974, 465ff.) in his study of names for materials - `selce' and
`calceata', both meaning paved and therefore Roman roads.

If the account given by the South Etruria Survey of what
happened in the early mediaeval centuries is basically correct,
then survival of roads and road furniture (the stones
themselves, milestones, and funerary monuments) is only to be
expected. For Crozet, as we have seen, the French landscape in
Romanesque times was very like that in antiquity, with roads
lined with milestones and cemeteries. The survival of at least
the memory of antiquities is, of course, a commonplace of
toponymy everywhere (Adhémar 1939, 46f. for France). Palestra
(1980, 10), finds `il pilastrello', meaning a milestone, a
common toponym around Milan, and reminds us that a Roman
milestone must have been the inspiration for the apparition of
the Virgin to S. James on his way to Compostela as the Virgen
del Pilar. Toponyms can refer to whole towns: Vendittelli (1979,
165) argues that the `Civitas Vetus' at Tivoli `was born of the
direct observation of antique remains still visible ... an area
where these ruins perhaps survived in a number so great as to
make one think it was an ancient civitas'. The earliest he can
trace is in the Farfa documents, for 1003; and he suggests the
ruins thereafter disappeared slowly until the great upheavals
caused by the building of the Villa d'Este.

Milestones were certainly in use throughout the Middle Ages
as land markers - witness the gifts made by the Emperor
Charlemagne to Pope Hadrian (AIMA 5.827ff.; and see
immediately below). Such roads, with their imposing remains,
feature in a whole series of later mediaeval epics (Bédier 1914,
364ff.). And, along with funerary monuments and perhaps an
idealised Roman villa, they appear in a vision related in the
Life of Vulfram, a seventh-century bishop of Sens; on a road
near that city, an apparition in human form offered to show them
a house prepared for the bishop's companion, Prince Rathardus:
`proceeding through places long unknown until, entering on a
very broad street, they see the house embellished with different
kinds of marble in polished blocks. From afar they see the
golden house and reach the square before it, itself paved with
gold and jewels' (composed by AD 811: MGH Script. rer. Merov.
5, 670).

Antiquities as land markers

In some areas, such as Gallia Narbonensis (König 1970),
Roman milestones are so frequent even today that the path of the
roads themselves can often be mapped out by following the
plotted positions of extant milestones; and in Gaul also, the
etymology of many roads reflects their Roman origin (Adhémar
1939, 68f.). Of course, Roman roads were recognised as such in
the Middle Ages, even when found under earth: compare Lambert's
account of the discovery near Ardres c. 1060 of `a hard
stone road, well made (calcata), from the marsh to the wood'
(Mortet 1911, 181).

Documentary proof is available for the use in the Middle Ages of
a whole range of antiquities as land markers, in the West as in
the East (on which see Szekely 1973, 343): to adapt Weiss'
comment on the Itineraries, `many old monuments were mentioned,
not because they were ancient, but merely because they were
conspicuous' (1969, 5). Thus in Brittany, megaliths were so used
(Mortet 1911, 54, 281 for examples from the early eleventh and
twelfth centuries respectively; presumably the menhirs in the
Terra d'Otranto were similarly employed); and in England,
barrows (Lawson 1981, 10). In Italy land markers included pagan
altars, and sarcophagi; thus one Farfa document (document 1321,
anno 1120: Balzani 1903, 2, 300) refers to a deed of land `from
the foot of the bank ... and as far as the altar ... and the
stone monument ... and as far as the road; the same documents
have a reference to a location called `sarcophagus' (ibid., 2,
248). Marking out land in a document of 946, reference is made
to a line `from that same ancient arca '  (Tabularium
, 1, Monte Cassino 1887, 82, doc. 49), which is very
possibly using `arca' in the sense of a sarcophagus, for
parallel toponyms are recorded for Florence, Parma, Rome and
Lucca (Belli Barsali 1973, 469, and n. 22). Support comes from
reference to a land marker outside Porta Maggiore at Rome in 936
as `the great marble arca' ( AIMA 2. 803D; this
cannot be Eurysaces' tomb, for that is too close to the
Aurelianic wall to act in such a capacity - so probably the
reference is to a tomb or a sarcophagus on the Appian Way
itself. A document of 1204 about Este refers to a quarter extra
muros called `of the altars' (AIMA 4.145f.); and a
property of Nonantula in the ninth century has the toponym
`Arulla' (AIMA 5.668D), which may have the same derivation.

In many of these cases, the land markers may well have
included Roman cippi terminales, used to divide public from
private property, as well as ordinary milestones on the consular
roads; Toubert suggests (1973, 278ff., 627ff.) that in Latium
this practice gave way in the early eleventh century to
delimiting by other fixed stones, or planted hedges; research
would indicate whether similar changes in usage occurred
elsewhere. But some markers were simply cut stones, and it is
impossible to tell exactly what they were; some may have been
milestones. In many deeds they are referred to as a `stone boundary
marker' (e.g. of 1190, AIMA 4.71B; or the
farm so named in the gift of the church of Ferrara in 948:
2.175D). Often the `petra' could be either natural or
man-made, as in the deeded the land of the church of Velletri
confirmed in 1054 as bordered `by the great stone as far as the
Po' (AIMA 6.320C), or the diploma of Conrad I, of 1027,
referring to the property of the Monastery of S. Salvatore at
Monte Amiate bounded `on one side of the bank with a stone' (

Few references are clear, but they are not rare. One in a
document of 943 is made to a marble statue, surely funerary: a
boundary `beginning from that marble statue which is called the
Dead Man situated next to the Roman road (viam silicatam)'
(Schiaparelli 1924, 204, doc. 68). Indeed, perhaps the whole
area was a cemetery: compare the site near Atina (Lazio) known
as `Omini Morti' - in fact the site of a pre-Roman cemetery. The
Roman context is made even more likely by the reference in this
document to `silice', which is frequently used to mean
specifically a Roman road (cf. Toubert 1973, 627ff.; and 628, n.
3). Compare the church of S. Bartolomeo in Silice, at Lucca, a
church which was very probably on one of the Roman roads out of
the city (Belli Barsali 1973, 523; Bindoli 1931, 329; and cf.
the Tabularium Casinense 1.125, doc.
68 for the same usage); indeed, the earliest reference to a
Roman road outside Lucca may be one of 740 (Schneider 1975, 227,
n. 37). Frequently, such roads were further described as being
of squared blocks, as in Subiaco deeds for 973, 1005 and 1015
(Allodi 1885, 35, 24 and 42).

Most such road were furnished with the ruins of monuments, as
in an undated deed AIMA 5.458) recording an agreement about land at
Casapietra, near Naples, wherein three 'termines' are mentioned
- `The first boundary, of hard stone (`silici' - a Roman road?)
... the third boundary, that is, the marble one' (ibid., 455D-E)
. But is this a milestone, or a funerary monument? Were a large
proportion of milestones of marble, or rather of stone? If not,
are such `termines' columns from buildings? The matter is
complicated, because references to columns as toponyms are not
rare (e.g. `Terram de Columnellis' as Farfa property in the
twelfth century, in AIMA 6.289A; or in the centre of
Teramo in 1100: L-B no. 2450), nor are references to ruins (e.g.
in a deed concerning Segusino, near Treviso, in 1037: AIMA
1.348A), but there is never any way of knowing whether such
columns or ruins were antique and, if so, of what structures
they had once formed a part. Some of the mentioned markers may
have been milestones, many of which survived from antiquity.
This seems likely in Otto I's diploma of 967, about land
confirmed to Subiaco, one of the limits of which is `in the
place called Ilice (the metalled road?), just as it is as far as
the column which stands over the fountain of Ilice' (MGH Dip.
Reg. Imp. Germ.
1, 452). In other cases,
however, the land markers are either completely modern, or have
been `modernised' - as in the four markers in a document of
1296, settling a boundary dispute at Isola di Porto, near Rome
(Schiaparelli 1902, 46ff.): three of these are marked with `A'
and a cross, which must refer to one of the proprietors, namely
the Monastery of S. Anastasius.

Documents relating to lands of the Abbey of Farfa reveal that
old, possibly antique, monuments were preserved there. Thus a
`monumentum cupi' at Casalis is mentioned three times in the
ninth century (Il Regesto di Farfa, 2.184: doc. 224 for
817; 2.235: doc. 282 for 840; and 3.3: doc. 300 for 857 or 859).
Another at the place called `in Toccie' appears in an eleventh
century document (undated: cf. 5. 278, doc. 1280). Are these,
like the `monumentum antiquum' deeded in 776 (ibid., 2. 66, doc.
66) just old, or really antique? The same question might be
applied to the `altariolus' the possession of which was
confirmed in 967 (ibid., 3. 109, doc. 404), the `fons marmoreus'
mentioned in 1104 (ibid., 5. 299, doc. 1313), the `tumbam de
monte more' in the territory of Assisi, mentioned in 1069
(ibid., 4. 369, doc. 989), or the stone lions which appear in
the Monte Cassino Chronicle (3.2). But one clue supports the
notion that some were indeed antique - namely the gift in 776 of
the Duke of Spoleto of land `from one side as far as the road
(`ad silicem') which goes to the long monument' (ibid., 2.87,
doc. 93) - the latter perhaps being some kind of tomb enclosure.
The same conclusion has been reached for Lucca, by joining
`silice' to `tumba' (Bindoli 1931, 330f.).

Objects clearly more splendid, but difficult to assess, were
also used as markers. What were the `duos tumulos' in a
privilegium given to the Bishop of Worms in 856 (AIMA
2.450A)? Or the toponym of 863 `in loco ... Tumulo' in the
territory of Volterra (Schneider 1975, 91, n. 50)? For this
toponym can mean simply a hill (Pisan usage: ibid., 242). We can
be more certain about the reference in the Papal bull of 1052 to
the `massam, quae vocatur Mauseuli' given to the monks of S.M.
de Pomposa (AIMA 5.338D) because this is a toponym which
occurs elsewhere (Pellegrini 1974, 458) - but is this the
Mausoleum of Theodoric (for the walls of Ravenna are mentioned
shortly afterwards)? Perhaps not, for the same document gives
them a `massam, quae vocatur Caputbovis', perhaps a funerary
monument with bucrania. But we should be wary of such
speculations: Anguillara, that puzzling three-storeyed structure
near Lake Bracciano (and probably a villa), had the epithet
`mausoleum' in the late Middle Ages. Even so, actual funeral
monuments must have been a common sight throughout Italy -
witness the reference in the Chronicon Atinense (RIS
7.903) to a toponym `outside the town in a rural place, near
to the monument called Imperial'. The spot was clearly a rich
one, which was perhaps why a church was built there, `in the
location called `the Stone Foot, hard by the monument called
Imperial, around the street which is called `of the monuments'
because it is full of monuments on both sides of the road, with
large stones, marbles of different types, and high columns'. And
when the Subiaco documents refer in 973 to a `monumentum album'
outside the Porta Portuense at Rome (Reg. Subl. doc. 39,
cited by Vendittelli 1979, 166), a funerary monument must be
intended; the same monument appears in the same documents in
1009 as `the underground rooms (cripta) which are called white',
so it presumably had a room in it. And accepting the same
author's suggestion that the toponym `Albula' at Tivoli refers
to the white marble covering that place's `Civitas Vetus', then
it was a monument sheathed in marble.

Monuments similar to these were sometimes specifically
deeded for church building, as in Louis the Pious's permission
of c. 793 to the monks of S. Vincenzo al Volturno to build a
church from the spolia of `the very old temple in Capuan
territory which had been constructed with mighty columns and
diverse stones by the ancients in the place called the Emperor's
House, or the Crypts' (RIS 1.ii.368B). Again, in 1010, a gift
to the Monastery of the Archangel Michael at Ferrara is bordered
by the `bank of the Po, where there was an ancient City' (AIMA
5.419B) - a civitas which, as the document remarks, is now only
the `Villa called de Pado'.

Repetti's observation (1841, 209) on the common usage of
`pietra-fitta' as a place-name in Tuscany to indicate cut stones
used as boundary markers could comprehend perhaps even statues:
compare the toponym `Petra Alba' as a boundary marker near Lucca
in the eleventh century (Belli Barsali 1973, 469, and n. 229)
and, from the same city, but this time within the walls, the
reference to `near to the carved stone' in a document of 983
(ibid., 468); at Bologna, the same toponym is applied to a
boundary stone made from a fragmentary antique column (ibid., n.
19); and a similar reference occurs in a Pisan deed of 1158
(AIMA 3.1173C). Such marker stones also appear on a church, in
a deed of 969 regarding land between Modena and Bologna: `hence
to the carved stone, thence ... to the marker on the basilica of
St John' (MGH Dip. Reg. Imp. Germ. 1. 516: Otto I: the
`termine qui est fictus' might mean that it was carved, or
simply fixed on the church). A variation on this is the mention
in 1038 of a boundary on the lands confirmed to Monte Cassino as
being an `inscribed stone' (petra Scripta: MGH Dip. Reg. Imp.
4.373: Konrad II), which could have been anything from a stele
to a milestone. Of course, the men of the Middle Ages could also
erect new carved stone markers, as a document of 745 recording
an agreement between the bishops of Modena and Bolgna shows:
`they set up a large stone ... and again two stones, that they
should be a memorial to remain there for all time to come'
(AIMA 5.326D).

The value of toponymy

Place-names can, as has been seen above, be of help in
determining the survival of antiquities, and the names might
indicate some passing interest in them. They have certainly been
of great help to students of the ancient world (Le Roy 1982).
But how seriously can we take such names, bearing in mind the
romantic laxity which place-name studies once had, and heeding
S. S. Frere's warning (when writing of continuity of villas)
that place names are `the main peg on which a luxuriant growth
of fantasy hangs' (review in TLS April 8 1977, 440)?

Place-name evidence can be seductive where no other
information exists. Thus the existence of pagan place-names,
already so well established that they `could remain unchanged
despite the victory of Christianity' makes it likely that `as
late as 700 there were still pagan communities in England'
(Cameron 1977, 119): such names indicated the existence, or
former existence, of shrines or idols, named a place dedicated
to a particular god, or noted the existence of sacrificial
rites. Other names indicate find-spots: for example `Champ des
Lizieux' which, in Picard dialect, indicates sarcophagi (Young
1975, 17). One toponym popular in Gaul equates pagans with
Saracens (early examples of the laxity mentioned above); and
`Les Sarrazins', `Camp', `Mur', `Ville' or `Tour des Sarrasins',
while not necessarily a certain guide to Roman remains, such as
necropoli or tomb monuments, has frequently yielded plenty of
evidence of `ancient' occupation (Burnand 1979, 121f. for several

In an attempt to check such evidence, Raymond Chevallier is
conducting a serious field study on the question in
Indre-et-Loire, by both photographing and prospecting the c.
200 toponyms which might indicate a Gallo-Roman site. A preliminary
account (Audin 1981) is encouraging, suggesting the following
links: ]]

[t3]Les Caves = subterranean elements of villas, baths, aqueducts
La Grande Piece = villa site
Mazières (from maceria) = ruined walls
Le Murger = heap of stones
La Perrière = ruins in heaps, which can mean a temple or
  necropolis; 71 examples in the survey
Les Terres Noires =  destruction by fire
La Tuilerie = a place for getting antique tiles; it is very rare
  for this name to indicate a brick or tile kiln]] [cr]

For our purposes, therefore, the importance of the link
between antique site and mediaeval toponym is that it can
indicate not only the partial survival of those sites, but also
the use made of them during the Middle Ages. This is
particularly the case where reference to earlier usage is made,
as in references to churches `in foro' or `in termis' (e.g.
Rotili 1979, 36, for Benevento); or, again, to the three churches
there called `ad Caballum', which might tie up with the
fragments of a marble horse now in the Museo del Sannio (ibid.,
40 and n. 71).

Antiquities in mediaeval epics

Another indication of the survival of antique landmarks -
although far from documentary in solidity - is provided by their
reflections in mediaeval literature. Best known are those
instances where the poet or writer wanders into a world of
almost total make-believe, as in some of the wilder statements
in the Mirabilia Urbis Romae, or the even more extravagant
descriptions of monuments, most clearly from classical or
Byzantine sources, in epic poems or romances (cf. Frankl 1960,
159ff.). These often refer to fabulous buildings, frequently of
marble (e.g. Roman d'Enéas, lines 422ff., 441ff.,
465ff.; Roman de Thèbes, lines 5173ff.; Roman de
, lines 3155ff.). In a similar category come those
claims outside epics which seek to relate modern cities with
antique `ancestors' from which they were founded, or with which
they are in some way associated. The most interesting for our
purpose are the statements that Venice was built with spolia
from Troy, and Genoa with spolia from Athens (Van der Vin 1980,
32f., 294).

Not all literary references were the purest fantasy, for
some are borne out by archaeological investigation - not, of
course, battle for battle, or castle for castle, but rather when
the poet has fashioned his imagined event or characters around
existing antique ruins. An example is provided by researches
near Saint-Père-sous-Vézelay, where a Celtic sanctuary and Roman
baths feature, in disguise so to speak, in Girart de
: `How did the site look in the twelfth century, at
the time of the Chansons de Geste? Walls in ruins, some very
thick and fire-reddened, with half-collapsed cylindrical towers
(rotundas of the ancient baths) standing amidst the brush'
(Louis 1982, 1.xxxixff.). Battlefields were also sited where
sarcophagi were to be found, as at Vaubeton, near to Saint-Père,
with toponyms like `Le Martrat' ( = `Marturetum') and `La
Timbaude' ( = `tombeau') (Louis 1982, 1. xxxiiff.). Another
example is Civaux, south of Poitiers, the site of a necropolis
so extensive that one scholar called it `Les Alyscamps du
Poitou'; the site appears in Girart de Roussillon as that of
a battle, presumably because of the ranks of sarcophagi which
were visible there when the romance was written (Delahaye 1982).

Such references to the monuments in epic literature could be
greatly extended. They are referred to briefly here, because
they constitute part of the rationale behind the continuing
appreciation of the antique: indeed, such literary constructions
help us understand those actual constructions made out of
antique spolia which, as we shall see, are such an important
element in the survival of antique artefacts throughout the
Middle Ages.