The Sangro Valley Project


The Project was conceived by John Lloyd with input from Gary Lock (both of the University of Oxford), Amalia Faustoferri and Cinzia Morelli (both then of the Soprintendenza Archeologica dell’Abruzzo) and fieldwork began in 1994. It concentrated on study areas within the Sangro valley, Abruzzo central Italy, selected to provide varying environmental conditions, namely the upper valley around the town of Opi and the middle valley focussed on the Samnite oppidum of Monte Pallano.


With the untimely death of John Lloyd in 1999 Phase 1 of the Project came to an end.


The principal objectives of the Project are to improve understanding of ancient settlement, culture and economy in a relatively unexplored part of Abruzzo. This is within the area of ancient Samnium and the River Sangro is one of the region’s major river systems, rising in the Apennines and flowing for 120km to the Adriatic coast. The temporal focus of the work is on the Samnite, Roman and early medieval periods, c. 500 BC-AD 1000.


Exploration has been based mainly on intensive surface survey combined with a wider landscape sampling strategy and small-scale excavation, an integrated landscape approach similar to that which has been successful in the near-by Biferno Valley (Barker 1995). Suitable areas for field-walking and surface survey were identified in the upper and middle valleys with the intention of providing a wider context of understanding for the then ongoing Soprintendenza excavations in the two areas. These were at Val Fondillo, Opi, in the upper valley, directed by Cinzia Morelli and on Monte Pallano in the middle valley, directed by Amalia Faustoferri (see Faustoferri and Lloyd 1998). The widening of the chronological range of the project to incorporate the early medieval period was achieved by Neil Christie (University of Leicester), particularly through his focus on Colle Sant’Ianni in the upper valley and the area around Fara in the middle/lower valley. Other elements were added to the project year by year, two major ones being the geomorphological and environmental work by Tony Brown (then of the University of Leicester, now Exeter) and Silvano Agostini (Soprintendenza), also the importance of transhumance as approached through the the enthnographical and anthropological work of Paul Beavitt (University of Leicester). A large part of the finds processing was carried out during the fieldwork seasons with Alison MacDonald (University of Oxford) being responsible for the pottery cataloguing and analysis which formed the bulk of the work.



  • Barker, G. 1995. A Mediterranean Valley. Landscape Archaeology and Annales History in the Biferno Valley. London.
    Faustoferri, A., and Lloyd, J.A. 1998, Monte Pallano: a Samnite fortified centre and its hinterland, Journal of Roman Archaeology 11, 5-22.
  • Lloyd, J., Christie, N. and Lock, G. 1997. From the mountain to the plain: landscape evolution in the Abruzzo. An interim report on the Sangro Valley Project (1994-5). Papers of the British School at Rome, Volume LXV, 1-57.
  • Lloyd, J., Lock, G., Christie, N., Wilson, A., Brown, T., Faustoferri, A. and Morelli, C. Forthcoming. From the mountain to the plain: landscape evolution in the Abruzzo. The Sangro Valley Project Phase 1 (1994-1998). Oxford. Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph.
  • Lock, G. and Faustoferri A. (eds). Forthcoming. Archaeology and Landscape in Italy: papers in memory of John Lloyd. Oxford. Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph.


SVP Phase 2

The 1998 field season was the final one for SVP Phase 1 although the project continued from 1999 onwards as Phase 2 under the directorship of Ed Bispham (University of Oxford) and Susan Kane (Oberlin College). The focus of Phase 2 has been continuing excavation on Monte Pallano, and the ground-proofing of Phase 1 surface survey results by geophysics and small-scale excavation.

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