A landscape with a great history

Lloma Comuna is a fortified village in the municipality of Castellfort (Castellón), in the region of Els Ports. It spreads out over 6,000m2 at an altitude of 1,295 m at the west end of the area known as Les Llomes de Folch. There have been two archaeological campaigns on the site, with a third phase focusing on structural conservation. These interventions concentrated especially on the south area of Lloma Comuna, and revealed several defensive walls, making it possible to identify the main role and urban layout of this settlement.  
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Archaeological documentation
With construction work for wind parks due to start immediately, the first systematic surveys of the area began in 2005. In general, the existence of a fortified outline, the presence of a tower in the south sectors, the structures linked to the village, and at some distance a previously unknown complex matching a burial space, were all documented. New research work began in 2006 to cover the entire area, with 26 manual probes establishing the chronology for the occupation of Lloma Comuna. The information provided by pottery found in each probe and its relationship to the wall remains found were used to identify two formation processes within the village. The first began in the early Iron Age (7th c. BCE) and the second, in the south area of the settlement, in the Iberian era.
Lloma Comuna covers a surface of 6,000 m2 at a height of 1,295 m in the region of Els Ports

The defensive system of Lloma Comuna is bordered to the east and west by two major wall outlines which protected this habitat in some way. Some of the surveys carried out showed sections of this perimeter, remains of living structures and spaces were also documented inside the site, as were others connected to the wall. There was also a curved bastion known as South Tower.

In 2009 archaeological work focused on the south section of the site, revealing an intricate urban system that was in turn divided into two parts, one further east, parallel to the adjoining wall where most of the material found is from the early Iron Age. The other sector is made up of a more irregular urban fabric around the South Tower where pottery remains from the Iberian period were found.

The walls

The probes and excavations carried out revealed the perimeter and defensive structure of the village. The walls, 2-3 m thick, follow a N-S orientation and are built irregularly using different sizes of stones and slabs. Differences can be seen between the outer and inner wall, with the latter appearing to be better conserved.

The diverging orientation of both walls forms a fortified enclosure with a trapezoid floor plan which gradually closes up as it moves sourthwards. A small gap has been detected in the mid part of these walls, suggesting the existence of an access system with front doors apparently connected with the livestock trail which crosses the site from east to west. This is confirmed by the documentation of two antemurals, matching these two openings, and contemporary with the wall.  

The South Tower

As we have seen, in the Iberian period the defensive system was remodelled to the south along with the village, although the sections of outer wall continued to be used as the main form of defence. A tower with an oval floor plan was added (90 m2) with large and medium-sized masonry distributed into two parallel wall rings. The study carried out reveals two different construction phases. Construction on a tower house may have begun in the early Iron Age or at the beginning of the Iberian period. A subsequent phase would have integrated this structure into the Iberian urban layout, connecting it to the southeast wall. This further supports the hypothesis of a defensive strategic function for controlling access. This change greatly strengthened the protection of the entrance path.

Population with two occupation phases: early Iron Age and Middle Iberian

This theory is supported by the analysis of the pottery material found in the different fills. These are mostly wheel-thrown fragments dating from 5th to 3rd century BCE (Middle Iberian and period of reoccupation of the space).

Habitat space

Following close analysis of the spatial distribution of the east area it can be stated that the construction of these walls is closely tied to the period in which the village was first created, the early Iron Age. In fact, the construction of perpendicular structures adjoining a section of wall during this period is particularly striking. It suggests a radial and peripheral spatial distribution, showing a clear preference for optimising the fortified perimeter zones while leaving the central part of the village free.

Part of this first urban segment was destroyed and transformed during the second phase (early Iberian) continuing until the Ibero-Roman. This area stands out for the highly irregular distribution of space - making use of different levels in the rock - while its complexity reflects an evolution in terms of construction.

Within the space of this Iron Age habitat we find several elements worth noting. Firstly, an infant’s burial site was found, connected with a ceremonial funeral rite. The body of a baby between two and six months old was found buried directly on the ground under slab paving beside a wall. The second discovery suggests a possible sacrifice as ovicaprid remains were found under the perimeter wall and researchers believe these could be connected with a ritual celebrating the foundation of the village.

The spaces and departments identified show significant differences depending on the area discovered and its function. For instance, a space for use as a grain store was found high up beside the west entrance to the site.


Several probes of the north part of the village uncovered the remains of a necropolis. The floor plan was documented, with two burial mounds, placed eight metres apart, with quadrangular cists with slabs set in the centre. The cremated remains of an individual were found in the sediment covering the first one, with a small amount of grave goods and parts of another burial. The second mount contained a cremated adult alongside material remains.

A grave was also identified near the mound, containing a partially cremated body. In addition, in the southeast part of the necropolis there is evidence of a third burial construction with the appearance of another mound, with a fill of cremated remains.

Fortified settlement with a double-walled defensive system and a tower to protect its perimeter

Further analysis of the human bones concluded that these belonged to between 3 and 6 people (each associated to an individual rite and burial space). According to researchers, this necropolis is closely connected to the fortified village, although further research is needed, especially as regards the chronology of the different rituals documented. Based on the pottery material found its use is dated to the Late Bronze Age-Urnfields1, while the fact that it was situated so close to the site suggests both spaces were used simultaneously, at least during the early Iron Age.  

Pottery remains  

As we have seen, the pottery found played a major role in identifying the occupation processes in Lloma Comuna. This material spans the early Iron Age (7th c. BCE) and the Middle Iberian (5th-3rd centuries BCE ).

These are mainly remains of handmade pottery made using local clay. For the most part these are large or medium containers, many of which present simple decorations while others are more complex. There are some open shapes (different sizes of bowls with circular decorations imprinted on the edges). Some wheel-thrown vessels were also found in different sizes, medium and large, including jars, small jars and pitchers decorated with painted motifs. Finally, it is worth noting remains of painted Iberian amphorae and those of a pateraand oinochoe3. Apart from some fragments dating from sometime between the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE in the Roman era, there is no imported pottery.

Metal remains

We finally observed the presence of metal remains in very poor condition. Numerous bronze objects were found including links, sheets, cuff fragments, fibulae, pendants and needles. Iron fragments also found included nails, rivets, knives, awls, arrowtips, an axe, a small scythe, a hoe with a ring and a solid iron weight.  

It is also worth noting the discovery of some stone utensils including different saddle querns, rotary querns and whetstones, as well as two idols, a loomweight made with an epiphysis, and a needle.

A necropolis with two types of funeral rites was found nearby

1Urnfield Culture: Culture which spread through Europe in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, with a new characteristic funeral rite: cremating the dead and depositing them in ceramic urns2Patera: Shallow plate from the Roman era which was used in sacrificial rituals.
3Oinochoe: From the Greek term oinochòe meaning to pour wine. Term used to refer to a vessel for liquids, either a jar or pitcher, dating from 8th-early 6th c. BCE.  

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