Local History

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olive
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Local History

Postby olive » Wed Oct 19, 2022 8:38 pm

Local History

Where I live in the campo in the Poniente area of Granada Province, there is lots of history. The reputed to be minor old Roman Road that went from Loja to Priego de Cordoba passes through the area. I walk the dog regularly on sections. Sadly it hasnt fared too well over the years. Part is covered with years of soil erosion, another part in olive groves has vanished over years of cultivation by that owner. A part further on on a steep hill became so badly eroded, during my time here, that the local farmers clubbed together and with Ayuntamiento permission covered the entire section with six inches of metal reinforced concrete to facilitate hauling out loads of olives.,

I often wonder about the many stone water troughs that can be seen in the countryside at the sites of long since dried up springs or indeed still functioning springs. When were they hewn? Are some of them Roman coffins as suggested by the older locals! Maybe Benidorm has a view?

The area was heavily populated during the Copper Age and there are many remnants. The locals all seem to have found good examples of rudimentary stone hand tools that have a sharpened end , presumably for cleaning hides. One I have seen is in perfect condition and made of an unusual bright green stone only occasionally found here. It should really be in a museum. I have found fragments of these tools on walks. The area has numerous Copper Age camps uncovered during roadworks or excavations. These have been documented and artifacts taken to the museum in Granada.

There are also several sites, open to the public, with many coffin shaped tombs and dolmens. We suspect more to be found if there was the manpower to remove years of soil and debris.

One hilltop across the valley puzzled us in the early days. In the afternoon light we thought we could see the outline of a defensive wall. So we drove there and walked it. We decided ( wrongly as it turned out) that it was just a natural geological feature.

Subsequently over the years the site has been excavated and documented. The website here is pretty comprehensive. https://www.villaviejaprehistorica.com/

Here are some headlines. Villavieja was built about 4,800 years ago and was a walled Copper Age settlement. It was sited on a plateau and a defensive wall approx 300 metres long and maybe five metres high gave protection. The wall also had circular towers maybe 15 metres high. These were being uncovered and carefully restored using techniques of the era when we last visited. It was used for around 500 years before being abandoned.

About 15 years ago, I found two aerial photos of the site on the internet perhaps from Google Earth and had them on my old pc. Sadly they are lost and I have been unable to find them again on the internet. They clearly showed the outlines of the bases of possibly two large circular huts. The land was cultivated around the time it was acquired in 2017 and they were obliterated.

For anyone planning visiting, here are some tips. Villa Vieja is well signposted from the nearest village of Fuente de Cesna by a road that skirts the village. There are several bars in the village and we like the one on the left near the chemist. No restaurants that we know of but Iznajar nearby has better facilities and is worth pulling in on your journey. The Iznajar castle and museum are nice. Usually open till 2.00 pm. The road to Fuente de Cesna hugs the hillside high above Lake Iznajar and even without water! offers spectacular views.

The road down to the site from Fuente de Cesna is single track and pulling off places now and then if you encounter another vehicle. It is passable in a normal car. Park near the end of the olive groves. On the site, there are walkways, seating and information boards. No facilities, no entry fee or opening times.

One of the boards details the abandoned old village of Fuente de Cesna. After heavy rain about 60 years ago, the cliff partially collapsed and resulted in 29 fatalities with 3 bodies never recovered. The old village was finally abandoned in 1963 after another collapse and moved to its present location. It makes for a pleasant diversion on foot or by car. The more energetic might scramble up the cliff to explore the ruins and cave houses.

I hope the above was of interest. Anyone else have examples of local history on their doorsteps?

PS. Just seen this which explains the little cottages dotted around! Always wondered about them. https://www.andalucia.com/travel/drivin ... ttages.htm

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chrissiehope
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Re: Local History

Postby chrissiehope » Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:53 pm

Fascinating, Olive :-)

I had a bit of history about our casa (sadly no longer 'our') but nothing else. I can write about it if anyone is interested ;-)
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olive
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Re: Local History

Postby olive » Wed Oct 19, 2022 11:12 pm

Yes do please. We had a family turn up with an elderly gentleman who was living in Madrid. He lived in “ our” house 70 years ago.

He explained one or two aspects and asked what happened to the well ( old fashioned hole with bucket) . He pointed to where it used to be. Now a patio. The previous owners knew nothing about it! water diviners show an aquifer under the house so it makes sense.

gavilan
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Re: Local History

Postby gavilan » Thu Oct 20, 2022 8:28 am

given the state of drought in various parts of Andalucia at present, being told about a well and acquifer might come in useful!

in the early 2000s when the building boom really took off around here (Axarquia) I realised how little I knew about the history of this area ... and that I should get out and talk to local people about what life had been like for them before the foreign invasion ... and before everything was bulldozed over and covered in concrete ... it was a fascinating and humbling experience ... gathered together into a book ... now out of print ...

BENIDORM
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Re: Local History

Postby BENIDORM » Thu Oct 20, 2022 11:44 am

Olive,
Thank you for adding a very interesting account of local history in your area, very informative.
And I would certainly encourage others, such as Chrissie, to add information about other areas, it's very much like a giant jigsaw with missing pieces and all information really should be recorded for future generations.

With regard to the stone water troughs, I would agree with the local farmers that they most probably were originally Roman coffins and possibly also used by other cultures.
They would originally also have had a stone lid, but rarely are these seen, many would of course had inscriptions on them, however I would suggest that the lids would have been repurposed.
I have seen several of the lids used as fireplace hearth stones and front door steps, but the inscription side would have been placed facedown for religious or superstitious reasons.
I actually sold some of the 'coffins' in the UK many years ago, when I had my antiques business, I advertised them as Roman coffins and they didn't sell ,so changed the description to farmyard animal troughs, and they sold very quickly.
Just last week I noticed an antiques dealer in Pickering, North Yorkshire advertising several as Yorkshire hewn stone troughs, but to me they looked like Roman coffins and when you consider that nearby Malton was actually a big Roman garrison ( bigger than York ) it's more likely.
So I'm sure that there would have been many Roman farms in your area, and the 'troughs' have probably not travelled very far and I would guess at 2nd-3rd century AD, and they were most likely made on site or nearby by travelling artisans.

As for the stone tools/ implements, you may recall that I have some on display in our museum, they are very difficult to date, but could be very ancient and I would suggest that they had many purposes, such as farm implements and cooking tools, I have axes , adze,hammer stones. etc.
The skinning tools were usually made from flint - silex, razor sharp and again I have a good selection of such tools found all over Europe.
It would also appear that 'travelling salesmen ' would bring such tools to trade and barter, even many 1000's of years ago, so sometimes the stone tools may not have originated in the area that they've been found.
I hope that my information is helpful..
Saludos,
Gordonious.

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chrissiehope
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Re: Local History

Postby chrissiehope » Thu Oct 20, 2022 1:38 pm

OK, for what it's worth, here goes:-
The info was given to me by the guy who made & fitted our kitchen.
it turned out he was the son of the original owners, so this is how he knew about it.

His grandfather & grandmother originally lived in Archidona, and the wife was pregnant, When she was nearing the end of her pregnancy, she caught what I suspect was Spanish flu & was seriously ill. She managed to give birth before she passed away, and the relatives said it was a miracle the baby survived, and they called her Milagros (miracle). The father re-married & built the small house in the campo, utilising timbers from a local convent which was being reformed, & most of which we managed to keep when we did our reform years later. As Milagros grew up, she fell in love with a lad who lived in a small house across the olive grove, and they married & moved to a nearby town to raise their family, using the small house (1 up, 1 down, plus an outside kitchen & a storeroom) for their olive farming equipment. This was what we bought.

As a result of hearing all this, we decided to call our casa de campo Casa Milagros :-). The original Milagros was very pleased :)
Alexandr for President (Squire for PM !)

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read (Groucho Marx)

olive
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Re: Local History

Postby olive » Thu Oct 20, 2022 9:07 pm

Chrissie- what a great story. There is a woman in our village called Dolores. I don’t know her well enough to ask her why she was called that ( pain, suffering , grief) . Maybe her mother died during her birth. We have another very nice lady who only ever wears black - even to weddings. Ever since her eldest son committed suicide many years ago and it took’ very ages ‘to find his body.

Beni. That was my conclusion too-on the water troughs. Many aren’t rectangular in shape internally but body shape to accommodate shoulders and narrower at the feet. They also have holes which I presume kept the lids on with pins through the lid into the sides

You might be interested to hear my school pal is documenting the stones that mark the Parish boundaries where we lived in the Vale of Pickering. They were mostly very long and very narrow. As kids we used to come across them and the defensive dykes long since grown over but remnants from the Danes . The forestry planting schemes in the forests like Wykeham, Dalby and so on had no regard for tumuli or defensive earthworks! Different era. They would very much now.


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