Palace of Baldu
- Middle Ages, XIII-XV century A.D.
Lu Palatzu di Baldu is located in the territory of Luogosanto, in the area of Santu Stevanu (fig. 1), included in the Giudicato of Gallura during the Middle Ages. It was divided into various Curatorie, which included Balaiana, where the Villa de Sent Steva was located, identified with the archaeological site in question.
Numerous legends survive to this day which report information such as the construction of the building by Lamberto Visconti during the first quarter of the thirteenth century, in order to celebrate the birth of his firstborn son Ubaldo, or by Giudice Giovanni in order to honour the memory of his father Ubaldo in 1238.
The complex of Lu Palatzu of Baldu covers an area of 1,379 square metres and consists of a square tower (figs. 2-3) and of about twenty rooms arranged around a large pentagonal courtyard, which is accessed from the north-eastern side. The tower, located in the south-eastern corner, stands out about 10 metres over the complex, but it is possible that in ancient times it was higher as, in addition to the three floors, it must have had a terrace, which ensured a good visibility over the surrounding area.
The three floors were served by a series of windows and an external staircase (fig. 4) allowed access to the main area. The lower level is externally provided with a talus while inside there is a large boulder.
Multiple rooms lean against the fence, of which seventeen of rectangular shape and of various sizes have been identified (figs. 5-6). The rooms of the complex appear to have had housing functions (warehouses, kitchens, stables) and working purposes (workshops, metallurgical production as in the cases of the beta and gamma rooms). These activities, coupled with some features of the tower which were inadequate for a defensive castle, such as the masonry expertise and the width of the openings have led to identifying the settlement as a major centre for the administration of the territory of Gallura or as a dwelling.
The building was located in a position naturally defended both by the depression of the ground surrounding the complex, and by the presence of rocky outcrops of granite characterised by tafoni whose height, of more than 10 m, concealed the tower and its two floors on the east and southeast sides: the latter may well have acted as an actual fortification system. Outside the houses, on the west side, various sections of walls connected to the church of Santo Stefano have been discovered (figs. 7-8); this was probably rebuilt between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries above the one dating to the Middle Ages, which served the village of the same name (Sant Steve): today’s structure is with a single nave and a sloping roof, oriented to the east, albeit missing the apse.
Not far from the church, archaeological investigations have revealed further wall sections - probably indicative of the presence of as yet unidentified facilities - and a furnace (fig. 9), characterised by a circular structure, for the production of clay-bricks (fig. 10) and ceramic artefacts.
The village of Sent Steve, which we know of because of fourteenth century sources, has been connected for a long time and by various authors with the rooms arranged around the courtyard, matching the village with this complex. On the basis of the dividing walls, identified to the west of Lu Palatzu, two hypotheses have arisen: the first suggests that the walls are a sort of extension of the village, larger than the known spaces; the second identifies it as a distinct town from the complex: the latter could identify a palace, around and outside of which there was the village characterised by dwellings and craft and subsistence-based structures.
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