In 1952 Miquel Oliva and Lluís Pericot, archaeologists from Girona, published the finding of ibero-roman ceramics on the Montsoriu hill. This was the first archaeological exploration at the castle. Montsoriu did not generate further archaeological interest until the decade of the 1980’s when a series of sampling digs, within the framework of the first programmed excavations, were undertaken in significant areas of the castle: the western hall of the bailey (1979); the sector between the castle and the Witches Tower (1980); the Gothic chapel within the bailey; and the ditch.
However, the archaeological excavations were not undertaken in a continuous and systematic manner until the year 1993. That year saw the first Archaeological Work Camp organized by the Departament de Joventut (Youth Department) of the Generalitat de Catalunya, under the technical direction of the Museu Etnològic del Montseny, la Gabella (Arbúcies), and within the historical and archaeological project Castells del Montseny. Since then, during the summer, organized by the Consell de Jovent d’Arbúcies, with the support of the Secretaria General de Joventut and the Servei d’Arqueologia de la Generalitat de Catalunya, hundreds of young people from Catalonia, Spain, and the rest of the world – Italy, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Holland, Lithuania, Canada, Poland, Jordan, Korea, United States, Norway, United Kingdom, Morocco, Czech Republic, Finland, Mexico,… – have worked for the recovery of Montsoriu, coordinated by the archaeologists of the Museu Etnològic del Montseny. In total almost 1,600 people have participated in the excavations, as well as around 40 cooks, monitors and directors. Another 200 people from 40 different groups and organisations have also cooperated.
In 1995 the Museu Etnològic del Montseny resumed the programmed archaeological digs, and since then more than 300 young archaeology students from Catalan and Spanish universities have worked at Montsoriu.
Thus, each year two archaeological intervention campaigns are held – the work camps and the programmed digs – that have allowed the uncovering of the remains of what is considered to be the best Gothic castle in Catalunya. These archaeological interventions have helped to gain knowledge of the architectural evolution of the castle, which has allowed the planning of the recovery and restoration projects, coordinated by the Patronat del Castell de Montsoriu.
The items recovered during the archaeological excavations have allowed us to document the lifestyle of the people that inhabited Montsoriu Castle during the middle ages, as well as offer a glimpse of the splendour of the Gothic period architectural structures, based on the ornamental details that have appeared.
The ensemble of items is of great historical and archaeological value.
The most plentiful type of item in the ensemble is that of ceramics. Through the study of ceramic remains, for each historical moment, we can gain a slightly better understanding about external comercial influences and of the lifestyle and diet of the castle inhabitants.
In broad terms, within the ceramics collection we can identify three distinct types: kitchen ceramics (generally made with reduction firing which gives it a characteristic grey colour); luxury ceramics destined to be used as tableware (green and manganese crockery from the end of the 13th century, and the 14th century, blue crockery which appeared between the 15th and 16th centuries, and glossy glaze crockery between the 16th and 17th centuries). Some pieces of crockery were imported from Italian or Valencian production centres, and others were from the Principality.
Finally, the third large group of ceramics is that of the large clay containers used for storing liquids and other products.
In addition to the ceramics, we must highlight an extraordinary body of glass objects (goblets, bottles, glasses…), as well as an extensive repertoire of small metal objects (crossbow arrowheads, buckles, weapon parts, scissors, iron keys, bolts, harnesses, decorative coffer parts, hairpins…), and odd objects made of bone (dice, buttons, knife handles, two pipes, ornamental pins…).
During some of the excavation campaigns an important body of architectural ornamental pieces has been found, belonging to windows, doorways…, from the 13th and 14th century castle-palace.
Thanks to the archaeological campaigns Gothic period capitals have been documented, along with their corresponding columns, lobulated arches and bases. Documentation of the marble paving of the bailey, parts of the chapel porthole, and pillars from the porticoed passageway… has also been possible. All these elements, which in the future will be placed in their original location, allow us to better understand the functionality and original appearance of the different areas of the monumental ensemble of Montsoriu Castle between the 13th and 14th centuries, its period of maximum splendour.
In 2007, during the excavations in the cistern of the eastern open tower of the bailey, an important group of items that had been dumped inside the cistern appeared. It consists of over 400 objects that were part of the castle endowment towards the end of the 16th century. It includes luxury objects such as glass goblets, coral “Our Father” rosary beads…, and utensils for daily life such as pots and pans, casseroles and fat containers, jugs, plates and bowls. Two flutes stand out, made of lamb shinbone. They are a type of straight flute with six holes, very popular during the Renaissance.
A good part of these items can be seen in Arbúcies at the Museu Etnològic del Montseny la Gabella, which has dedicated ample space to the Montsoriu findings and presents them in a very didactic manner.
The great Gothic castle of Montsoriu that can be visited today is that of the great reformation undertaken in the 16th century by Bernat II, Viscount of Cabrera. In fact, the main tower of the castle boasts more than 1,000 years of history.
The over 1,000 year history of Montsoriu Castle has been accompanied by many traditions and legends, transmitted from generation to generation.
Montsoriu Castle has been linked to the Viscounts of Cabrera since the 11th century. Montsoriu was the capital of the viscounty, along with Breda (religious capital), Blanes (commercial) and Hostalric (administrative).
Collection of images from different periods, of different spaces and activities with Montsoriu as the subject.
In 1995 the Patronat del Castell de Montsoriu promoted the first restoration works, that continue to this day and have allowed the recovery and opening to the public of a good part of the enclosure.