THE DOLMENS OF VALENCINA
In the Aljarafe, the high ground to the west of Seville, there are a number of prehistoric burial chambers dating from the Bronze Age. The dolmens, in the small neighbouring towns of Valencina de la Concepcion and Castilleja de Guzman, date from around 3000BC. A dolmen is a megalithic chambered tomb (megalith = a large stone used to construct structure or monument).
Two of the dolmens can be visited by prior appointment with the Casa de Cultura in Valencina by calling 955 720 211 or making a reservation here.
The visit starts with a guided tour of the museum, which is located in Plaza de España in the village centre. This small but excellent museum contains various artefacts discovered when the sites were being excavated, the most famous of which is the Idolo Placa - a stone engraving of an owl which is the village's symbol.
You can also see Copper Age metal tools, such as mini-saws, and arrowheads, and bone ornaments; a model of the settlement, with its primitive dwellings; and read about what the inhabitants wore, cultivated, hunted, and produced. There's a video explaining the geographical setting of the archaeological site, and a recreation of the prehistoric settlements showing the huts where they lived, which bring it to life. All provides a useful context for the visits to the dolmens (technically known as tholos, a Greek word meaning corridor and chamber).
You are then taken on a visit to the dolmens themselves: La Pastora, which you pass arriving in Valencina from Sevilla. This dolmen, which was discovered in 1860, has the longest corridor of any dolmen on the Iberian Peninsula - over 46 metres. All that is visible from the outside is the entrance, which is in the middle of a grassy field. You walk through the classic entrance of a flat stone laid across two upright ones, into a long, narrow, low-ceilinged passage, with walls made of big slabs of slate, the gaps filled with smaller pieces, and large slabs for the ceiling, to a circular chamber. It is quite an experience entering a burial chamber which was built (and occupied) 5000 years ago, but not recommended for claustrophics.
This dolmen is located off the Valencina-Salteras road. Discovered in 1917, it is also located in a field, of olive trees. Like La Pastora, the dolmen has a 32-metre passage lined with stone, with limestone ceiling pieces, ending in a round chamber with a thick, square slab of stone which was an altar or table for offerings and a huge round piece of granite as its ceiling.
Watch a video about the museum and dolmens here and a documentary here with computer-generated recreations of burial rites. Various international conferences and other events on the subject of prehistoric archaeology are held in the town
See our page on Prehistory in Andalucia.