History of the excavations
In 1972 Chamoso Lamas started excavation on the NW quadrant of the main hillfort enclosure, where ruins from circular and square plant constructions were found. The collected material already seemed to set the pattern of the settlement, abounding the ones from roman age.
In 1973 the excavation got to the central part of the croa, where prevalent constructions are squared plant and are disposed with some organization among them. Abundant ceramic of various types continued to appear (among them, sigillata Hispanic), polished stone axes, bronze objects, two Arcadian gold coins (in addition to silver denarius and late bronze semis), malachite beads, and two singular findings: the axe of the bronze heel with four rings and a torque almost twin of the one found in 1911.
From 1975 to 1978, archaeological work consisted basically in the sieved of the soil from previous excavation campaigns, although some accesses to the wall were enabled too. Among the findings an antenna sword and a stone playing board must be highlighted.
From 1982, archaeological work in Castro de Viladonga was leaded by Felipe Arias Vilas. In that year, work for cleaning the croa and the walls of the hillfort was made, as well as a revision and global classification of the material from ‘70ies excavations.
In 1983 grounded witness walls left by Chamoso Lamas were excavated, expanding the excavated area in some zones and digging in others getting to the natural ground to finish the archaeological fertile levels. This allowed to clarify some aspects of the inside ordination of the hillfort (allowing to see the “streets” or passing areas), as well as the characteristics of their constructions, something that was enhanced with the new cleaning and consolidation of the areas that needed it. A lot and diverse findings continued to be found, generally similar to the ones made the previous years.
In 1984 the NE angle of the enclosure inside the walls was excavated, getting to the natural ground or natural stone, this allowed to find several successive floors in some houses, although they belong to the same galaico-roman level and cultural moment. In addition to the cleaning and grooving work in the site, archaeological prospecting work started in the surrounding county and all the topographical survey of the site was renewed.
Because of the concentration of efforts and resources in the installation and the start of the Museum, until 1988 (with continuity in 1989) excavations didn’t resume, but they showed new aspects and important information. A cross cut was made in the walls and moats of the east side, to define the continuity of the settlement and the setup and structure of that defensive system. The big variability of the set of defences of the hillfort in this east area was checked and it was documented the existence of, at least, two successive levels, very close and previous (but probably in a little period of time) to the construction of the defensive system that is preserved until today. It is very probable that the most antique of these levels could relate with the pre-roman occupation period located later in NE angle of the croa.
The material found was very similar in almost all the area and levels excavated in this cross cut (ceramic of Celtic tradition, bronzes and iron dross, sections of imprinted huts…), except in the inside of the croa, where there were material that was clearly galaico-roman as tegulae and fibulas in omega. This certain differentiation of material may be due both different moments in this area’s occupation, and (and probably) to a qualitative and/or specific nuance of their occupants.
In 1990, a previous excavation was made prior to the enlargement works of the Museum building, in a rampant of the hillfort in its SE side. Any kind of structure was documented, but they did appear signals of two old paths almost parallel, being with any hesitation the deepest of them from a galaico-roman age. The material found was scanty, and more taking into account the big amount of soil removed, but some of the materials found were singular and significant (like the ferrule of a scabbard from a bronze dagger).
In 1992, an excavation of the grounded witness walls left in the campaign of 1984 in the NE angle of the croa was made, it allowed to check, in the north side and almost adjacent to the wall, the existence of a level of occupation clearly previous of the habitat and the main defences (from a late period) of the hillfort. Even it was documented the presence of remains of walls and some slope under the ones that are visible today in the croa, along with some sample of Celtic ceramic very shattered and pieces of bronze, sometimes with no shape or in poor state of conservation.
Also in 1992, a sample made in the ‘70ies was enlarged in the antecastro of the west side, and they noticed the existence of two structures or big walls that flanked a path for accessing the croa by that side. The material picked up was very abundant: constructive elements like tegulae and imbrex, numerous nail or pushpin heads, common roman ceramic and terra sigillata, some pieces of bronze, etc. As usual, general cleaning and grooving work of the Hillfort were made and the replacement and consolidation of the structures that needed it.
Excavations from 1996
In 1996 is when the archaeological work is made for the first time with non-staff of the Museum, as it was being made since the beginning of the excavations.
In the 1996 campaign, the company Terra-Arqueos S.L. was in charge of the excavations, focusing in two sectors: on the one side, in the enlargement of the excavated area in the west antecastro in 1992, and in the other side, they continued the work in the croa, in its SW angle (in front of the main entrance), as well as the pertinent work of consolidation and cleaning.
The most significant finding of this campaign was that they found out the use of the antecastro, at least partially, as a habitation zone, with the location of a rounded agricultural silo delimited by a circle of stones, coated with clay in the inside and with the presence of some cereal seeds, as well as ceramic pieces, iron and bronze.
It was noticed, in that sector of the croa, the existence of two streets starting at the entrance of the enclosure and around them the constructions are articulated. A complete construction was exhumed, just in cementation level, it was small but it had a portico in the front. The most abundant materials were ceramic, Celtic and galaico-roman, as well as some stone and metal tools.
Even when the cleaning and punctual consolidation work was and is permanent and habitual, until 2003 there weren’t archaeological excavations in the hillfort, they were, again, in the entrance of the croa and in the west antecastro to expand the information about these zones. This work, performed by the company AXA Arqueología, allowed defining the east path of the entrance of the croa, with the exhumation of the internal parameter of the wall and its bank foundation, its bastions or side protection walls. In the antecastro, the enlargement of the work made in the previous years allowed finding an elongated structure with holes identified as cereal silos and another with an area that had remains of charcoal. It also appeared a curious structure of undetermined functionality until now, with two narrow spans and inside it, aligned with them, two big blocks of white quartz well settled on site.
In the campaigns of the following years, from 2006 to 2009, the work in the main entrance continued (made by the company AXA Arqueología), in the east neighbourhood of the croa and, in lesser extent, in the west antecastro. In this one, the knowledge about some particular aspects of the constructions exhumed in the previous years was completed. In the east access sector to the hillfort it was possible to complete and document a monumental architectural corridor, recovering, with vertical grooving in the factions of the wall, the footprint of the door that kept people off from the inside of the enclosure, as well as an sculpture provided with an interesting set of materials like the remains of a golden necklace, a bronze pin and several bronze coins from late roman ages. In this campaign it was developed the first work field in which took part young people from several regions.
In 2007, it was defined in the sector of the croa the continuation of the path for accessing from the wall and the first house exhumed in the previous campaign was completed. In this entrance of the croa the access was defined from the original level, from the first moat, to access over the original stone pavement between the big factions of the wall. In these appeared the second vertical marks and in the center of the pathway at the same level of them, a circular granite stone with a longitudinal reduction was found; it belonged to the closing system of the first door. In this first campaign, we also count with the collaboration of an international work field in which took part young people from different Spanish regions and from other countries.
A new plan of the hillfort was made with UTM coordinates and collecting the results of the excavations from the last years, as well as an infographic surveying of the set.
In 2008, the work in the access path continued from the first moat to the croa, as well as in the lower part of the enclosure on both sides of the entrance on the east and south rounds. In this campaign, the exhumation of the original stone pavement of the path that is flanked to the left by a new neighbourhood was completed, excavating a new room structure.
In 2009, punctual archaeological work was made on the back side of the constructions found between 2006 and 2008, in part to define its new structure and setup and in part because the walls had much damage because the south wall of the hillfort had collapsed over them and threatened its total ruin. In this excavation a pressed clay pavement of good quality was found, it was previous to the foundation trench of those walls and over it had fallen, later, the internal facing of the main wall.
From 2012, under the project: Archaeological conditioning and consolidation for the value of the Castro de Viladonga (Castro de Rei, Lugo), co-financed by European funds (FEDER) and the Dirección Xeral de Patrimonio of the Consellería de Cultura, Educación e Ordenación Universitaria of the Xunta de Galicia, the efforts concentrated in the consolidation and restoration of the hillfort’s structures for what was required the archaeological control of the work, with punctual excavations associated with the consolidation without delving in the excavation and without depleting the archaeological levels. The company in charge was Bic, Materiales y Conservación, S.L.
In 2016, archaeological excavation work was resumed to improve the access in the west side of the croa and the excavation associated to the consolidation of the already excavated structures in this west sector and in the central part of the croa are still going on. The company in charge is Terra Arqueos, S.L.