The seven graves visible in a small green area north of the ancient centre of Iseo is an eloquent testimony of the findings of early medieval necropolis in the Sebino territory and neighbouring areas (e.g. Castelli Calepio, Volpino, Darfo). In Iseo, in particular, some other small necropolis are known, including two north of the village (via Cavone, eleven graves with grave goods from the 17th and 18th centuries, Via Bonomelli, a grave from the early Middle ages, indeterminable); not far from Breda along ancient road systems heading inland and towards Pilzone; a third grave area has also been identified near the station, where in 1883 Capuchin graves from the Roman period emerged.
The medieval place name Breda – very common in northern Italy – is derived from the Lombard word brayda, area for grazing horses and is generally associated to medieval times. During the construction of the railway in 1885 other graves had been discovered, presumably belonging to the same necropolis; in 1981 an excavation of the Superintendent brought to light 11 graves of different types (two Capuchin, seven coffin-shaped and two simple earth graves) but all oriented east west. The buried adult males were lying on their backs with their heads facing west. The visible graves highlight a coffin structure made of stone slabs, fragments of Roman bricks, cobblestones bound by a little mortar or soil, and the anthropoid structure is evident; they were covered by slightly hewn monolithic stone slabs. The fragments of pottery and an iron buckle found in a grave in the ground between them allow them to be dated back to the 6th – 7th centuries.
Like other early medieval cemetery areas found in Iseo, this is an isolated necropolis, not connected to a place of worship and this allows us to link the graves to the presence of barbaric nuclei not of Christian faith, even in the absence of grave goods.
Photo by Beppe Prandelli