Santa Vittoria di Serri
The site of Santa Vittoria di Serri lies on the edge of one of the highland plateaus, called giara. It is a rich archaeological site with many remains of huts, a sanctuary with a waterwell and a large structure where religious festivities were held. In written sources it is mentioned that the romans surprised the Sards during the festivities and killed many of them burning down their sanctuary. On the edge of the plateau stands the small church of Santa Vittoria.
Santa Vittoria di Serri
The Giara di Serri is a highland plateau, 662 metres above sea level and lies between the regions of the Marmilla, the Trexenta and the Sarcidano. The only road that leads to the plateau starts in the small town of Serri and ends after four kilometres at the archaeological site of Santa Vittoria on the western verge of the plateau. The site has been named after the small church built here in the early middle ages. The archaeological area is large and comprises several interesting structures from the recent Bronze age, the Sardinian nuragic period. In these times this place was a kind of pan-Sardic sanctuary where the nuragic clans held their religious gatherings and feasts.
The Recinto delle Feste (area of the feasts)
A very special structure of which the foundations can be seen is the place where the religious feasts were held, called the Recinto delle Feste by the archaeologists. The oval shaped open space is enclosed by huts, a porticus and a row of smaller rooms. The first entrance is on the east side, a second entrance on the southside. Looking clockwise from the eastern entrance you will see the first hut, identified as the big kitchen where the meals were prepared. The southwest side is closed by a long porticus, interrupted only by the southern entrance. The roof was supported by pillars (maybe of wood). The porticus ended at another large hut, which has been identified as the hut of the founding fathers (fondatori), or also melters, fonditori, by earlier archaeologists because of traces of bronzemelting. It was supposed to be the place where the aristocrats or the elders of the clans stayed. Behind this hut, outside the perimeter of the area, there is a small enclosure that could have been used to hold small cattle like sheep. Next to the large hut, on the north side, there are nine small rectangular rooms, interpreted as stalls or booths where religious or other objects could have been sold. Finally, turning back to the eastern entrance on the right side there are four huts. Furthest from the entrance is the hut where a double axe in bronze was found that would have been placed in a sandstone base (Capanna dell'ascia bipenne). The hut next to that one has a circular bench which reminds of the huts of the reunions (or assemblies) in other sites (Recinto con sedilo). Immediately right of the entrance there are two smaller huts.
The temple with the sacred well
The temple with the waterwell lies within an enclosed oval area (the temenos) and is composed of an atrium, a staircase and the perfectly round well itself. Of the superstructure almost nothing has been preserved. In the floor of the atrium there is a drain used to let liquid flow away from the altar (which could have been blood as well as water). The well itself is 3 metres deep and has a diameter of two. During the excavation many pieces of ornament have been found that were part of the superstructure and many small artefacts in bronze (votive gifts). One of the larger ornaments was a bullshead with horns, an element very common in the nuragic culture and associated with a male divinity.
Near the small church of Santa Vittoria
Between the sacred well and the small church on the farthest edge of the plateau several structures can be seen that have been dated back to various periods. A paved road connected the well with a large hut, the via sacra. Next to the hut can be seen masses of stone belonging to a former protonuraghe of which part was used in later times to build a wall to protect the sacred area on the north side. In the sacred area itself remains of a nuragic tower and large huts have been found but also a rectangular structure identified as a temple (tempio ipetrale) which was believed first to be without a roof (therefore called ipetrale). Many finds of votive gifts and altars have been done within the structure and finally also remains of a roof. The nuragic buildings not only suffered a large rogue by the hands of the romans, but also subsequent reuse of stones during the byzantine period when a small garrison was stationed near the church and a small graveyard was maintained in the area.
Other important structures at the site
The wall that reinforced the north side of the sacred area extended north up to the place of the hut of the chief, the capanna del capo. This hut was built in stone much like the nuraghi, and with a rectangular atrium. On the inside the walls contained several niches. Other structures can be found on the eastside of the Recinto delle Feste which mainly have been used as homesteads for families. However one particular hut stands out as a large hut of the assemblies. It has a circular bench, but also at one side in the wall at two metres above the ground flat stones were placed like a canopy. Here without doubt the most important chiefs were seated during the assemblies.
In fact the archaeological evidence that a large fire devastated the sanctuary seems to concord with the writings of Strabo. The ancient author tells us how the Romans tried to subdue the Sards and finally succeeded when during their religious feasts the barbaric Sards were suprised and murdered by the Romans, burning down their sanctuaries.
1. Lilliu,G. 2003: La civiltà dei Sardi dal paleolitico all'età dei nuraghi, Nuoro
2. Zucca, R. 1988: Il santuario nuragico di S. Vittoria di Serri, Sassari
Address: Località Santa Vittoria, Serri
Tel.: 3460669068 - 3488893945
Opening hours: Open from 09:00 until sundown
Prices: Euro 5,00 ; Euro 4,00 (groups); Euro 3,00 (reduced)
Website: Santa Vittoria di Serri
Guided tours possible
The information has been updated for 2019 but prices and opening hours may vary.