The fall of the Roman Empire started off a period of decline for Benevento, too. It went back to glory under the Longobard domination.
At the beginning of this domination with Zottone I, Benevento
was a Dukedom; after the decline of the Kingdom of Pavia (774) it was elevated to a Principality by Arechi II:
he was a real art and culture -lover and realised several architectural works, including the expansion of the boundary walls
wiith the creation of the Civitas Nova
(today's Triggio), the Church of St. Sofia
, with its particular structure, half circular and half star-shaped; the adjacent Benedectine Monastery with its marvellous cloister. Another important witness of the Longobard period is the Church of S. Ilario, not far from the Trajan's Arch: Arechi's court was an important cultural centre, also thanks to the enlightened mind of Paolo Diacono.
The "Benevento writing
" became very important and the "scriptoria" of the Kingdom of Longobards wrote fantastic hagiographical, classical and Liturgical Codes
that are still kept in the most important libraries of the world. Moreover, the economy had a substantial boost
thanks to the mint introduced to coin money (the golden soldo) Alto the famous legend of the Witches dates back to this period: Longobard soldiers used to meet in a place near Benevento where there was a walnut-tree sacred to God Wothan; while making carousels on horses they would try to pull off the branches goatskins hanging from the sacred tree. Local people transformed with their fantasy the whirling carousels of the cavaliers into dizzy dances of witches. On the Longobards' conversion to Christianity by Bishop Barbato the demoniac walnut-tree was cut down, as a sympbol of the victory of the Saint Bishop over the witches and the devil.