Results and conclusions (by Dr. Massmiliano Fagan):
As mentioned in the introduction, the aims of this intervention lay in the evaluation of the historical/archaeological potential of a place that had already been the subject of several bibliographic citations over the centuries. In this regard, a historical/archival research1 preliminary to the excavation had been entrusted by the Client, which, however, did not bring to light information and evidence that could guide the planning of the archaeological investigations. More interesting, however, is what emerges from the text "I Castelli Feltrini, "2 where a seventeenth-century poetic poem by Francesco Murano is mentioned that refers to the "tower of the Queen," and then, within the description of Bivai Castle, there is mention of excavations promoted by Count Avogadro at both the keep and the tower.
The archaeological excavation actually brought to light the remains of a heavily remodeled masonry structure, of which only the walls of the southern part are preserved, with a thickness of about 1 m and part of the internal floor crawl space.
In documentation it was then assumed that it might have been rectangular in shape and measured about 8 X 6 m3. Unfortunately, the intense spoliation of materials over the centuries to the present day for the construction of houses and stables, coupled with a probable remodeling carried out at the time of World War I, does not allow for an unambiguous and certain interpretation of what was found, but rather leaves room for at least two different hypotheses between them.
The first, also starting from what emerged in "I castelli Feltrini," leads to attribute to the structure a defensive function or at least of sighting and control of the territory, given the repeated use of the term tower to indicate the settlement on Col della Regina. Supporting this hypothesis is first of all the topographical analysis of the defensive sites along the Piave and Cordevole rivers that can be deduced from the study made by De Vecchi, starting from the place names of the various places4. Indeed, it can be seen that the site of Col della Regina topographically would go to play a strategic role in controlling the right bank of the Piave, among 'other things right in front of the castle of Zumelle located on the opposite bank of the river (fig. 16).
Moreover, the very position of the building, on the top of a steeply sloping hill, seems to exclude a priori functions other than those of controlling the territory, especially since, as mentioned, the entire Piave valley is visible from the southern slope of the hill (fig. 17). From a typological point of view, it can be hypothesized, given the thickness of the walls, that the structure had foundations and a plinth in masonry elevation, while the rest of the elevation and perhaps even the roofing in wood.
Supporting this hypothesis is the total absence of roofing material found in the collapse and the presence on the residual surface of the beaten floor that covered the interior crawl space, of substantial traces of burning that might suggest a fire.
It is likely, however, that this building was used only as a guard post and was not habitually inhabited, as there is no evidence of occupation in this sense.
The second interpretative hypothesis does not contemplate the building as a control tower/place because the size and structural poverty of the walls, among other things, at least in the preserved parts, devoid of mortar, do not find comparisons with similar known structures in the Belluno area. In this sense, even the traces of burning found on the beaten floor could be interpreted simply as the outcome of fire ignition (hearth ?).
In this view, the building could therefore be interpreted as a kind of "casera," a support structure linked to productive activities active in this area. What clashes with this interpretation, however, remains the place where the structure in question stands, that is, on the top of a hill whose ascent is still very difficult given the slope and must have been even more so for those who had to climb it with tools or weights of any kind, perhaps several times a day.
On the other hand, as far as the dating of the structure is concerned, the only dating material found during the excavation is a fragment of combed pottery that can be generically dated to the late ancient-early medieval period. This dating would support the hypothesis of a structure with defensive/control functions related to Bivai Castle, which probably arose in the same period and fell into disuse in the 15th century5. Useful for the chronology of the site could be the coal recovered on the surface preserved on the crawl space inside the building (US 11). It has been appropriately found and is awaiting laboratory analysis, although it should be kept in mind that the results will have to be evaluated with caution since the coals came from the interface between the floor surface and the spoliation fill and not from the body of the layer6.
Regarding the exploratory survey on Col della Croce, this, as mentioned, was aimed at understanding the archaeological potential of this area where in the past survey activities had led to the surface discovery of a pottery fragment and some metal elements.
Therefore, the previously described surveys were carried out, which, however, did not reveal anthropogenic stratigraphy. However, given that the area of the Col della Croce plateau is very large, the results of the above surveys should not be preclusive to future more systematic and planned investigations perhaps based on preliminary georadar or thermographic surveys.
In addition to the materials found thanks to the survey, in fact, south of the cross, an alignment of stone material was uncovered that was only identified but not documented on the instructions of the Superintendency and that could be evidence of the occupation of the hill (fig. 18). In addition, a brief reconnaissance along the south slope, halfway up the hillside, led to the discovery of residual stone blocks still bound, however, by non-modern lime mortar, probably slipped from the hill plateau.