Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Trip to an Ancient Castro

                                             
 
Last week we visited an ancient "castro" with friends David & Terry about an hour and a half's drive away. It's called Castro Maior (maior being Galegan for "major"— Major Castro; it's also spelled Castro Mayor in Castilian). A castro is an ancient, pre-Roman fort city, Celtic in origin from all I can read. We approached it via a faint road just off an offshoot of the  "Camino" (one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago); mainly uphill, and bordered by the beautiful combination of purple heather and yellow broom you see here. (They are just coming into their own in this very late spring. )

This castro is 2400 years old, and what you see are the remains of what must have been ground floors of the various households in what was basically a village structure, but the method of building involved houses building onto houses with adjoining walls, and a main entrance into the village, with a path or lane going around the edge of the village, but cutting through at places between buildings—not unlike the present plans in the present villages (which all are old and follow an ancient tradition).

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A "castro" was the whole village, with stone foundations and thatched roofs (the thatching being of the barley that grew all around.) The village was surrounded by farmland, but there was only one main entrance into the castro, and there were also storage areas that served the entire castro. Above are some pictures of the ruins were were privileged to wander among.

Below, you can get a good idea of the stone work. The stones in that area are quite flat, not "block-shade" like some of the rock that forms the foundations of more recent (but old) buildings.










                 
         
       
       
        To me, it was awesome to think I was touching stones someone had touched 2400 years ago. But those of you who have read earlier posts know I get "mystical" about ancient buildings. They stir something deep inside me, and make me imagine the past. Our friend, Terri said she could actually "see" (figuratively) scenes in these ancient little rooms. It is amazing to see how they have stood the test of time. The thatched roofs are gone, but the foundations remain.

After our walk-around the castro, we went to another town called Portomarin for lunch. Portomarin is quite charming. My husband likes to photograph old churches, and we were rather captivated by the square architecture of this one right in the center of town.






   
 
 
 
 
 
    We were also excited to learn that there is another castro closer to us in a village called Fion that we can visit. If we find time to go see it, you can bet we will take more pictures.

How about you? Do old buildings and ruins stir something inside you and take you back to the past? Do you like historic architecture? Do you like to imagine the past when you visit a place? 


22 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

It is landscapes rather than buildings which speak loudest to me, probably because I live in an ancient land with few old buildings.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Elephant's Child, I love this post. I can see how an ancient land would have a deep impact on one. Thanks for your comment.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I am in awe of the beauty surrounding the castro. I can't begin to imagine the remains of a village that is 2400 years old. It is beautiful how the wildflowers, grasses, and plants have grown up around the stones. This is awe inspiring.

Mark Noce said...

So jealous:) Look spectacular!

Kate Larkindale said...

Coming from New Zealand which is such a young country, I'm always awed by ancient structures. I'm not religious at all, but one of the most spiritual moments in my life was standing in Roen Cathedral and hearing Mass. The sudden realization that I was in the same place Joan of Arc heard the same Latin Mass really made history come to life in a whole new way.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Bleubeard and Elizabeth, I find it aw-inspriting, too. Two thirds of the early castro are still buried. It was really huge. And all of it pre-Roman. What a different world it must have been. All of it agrarian, and homes build from the local material. Truly another time that seems almost in another dimension. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Mark, don't be jealous, come visit us when we are here instead. This is probably a similar culture to the one in our fabulous Celtic series.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Kate, I so relate. I read a lot about Joan of Arc as a teenager and was so taken by her history. And when I went to Paris, standing in the nave at Notre Dame, I had a similar experience, because when I looked up and the vaulted ceilings, I have to say, my spirit just soared in a way that contemporary architecture can't evoke. But to have history added into it, well . . . !

Cathrina Constantine said...

Amazing!!! I wish I was with you!!!

Michelle Wallace said...

Hi Elizabeth!
Wow. Such beautiful pictures! The architecture is amazing, and it looks atmospheric.
The thought of "touching stones someone has touched 2400 years ago" gives me the chills - but in a good way!
I can imagine the stories tucked away amongst all that gorgeous stonework; just waiting to unfold...
Writer In Transit

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Cathrina, thanks for the visit. I think you would have enjoyed wandering around these old ruins. It was also our luck that an archeologist was telling some other visitors (in English) a few facts about the ruins. That was how I learned about the barley-thatched roofs. Also, in some of the larger "rooms" (though still small) there were stones piled in the center with one upright stone. That was the kitchen hearth, and smoke was let out through a hole in the roof. (Which would make me nervous with all that thatching.) I would love to go back.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Michelle, I can imagine stories, too. Both historic and contemporary. It would be a great place for a mystery that involved climbing around at night. Unfortunately, I don't know enough Celtic history to think of an historic tale. But you are right: all those stone foundations really are atmospheric. Thanks for stopping by.

Julia Thorley said...

I can be inspired by old buildings, too - I've recently done a dance project inspired by an old church - but I also like a bleak, windsweppt landscape. You've shared some lovely photos here, thank you.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Old buildings fascinate me. I always wonder what they were like when people lived in them. And the landscape, trees and flowers to see if they resemble the ones we have today. Great stories can be written about historical settings. Thanks for sharing your lovely photographs. Nice place to visit.

Rosi said...

Somehow this slipped into my spam folder and I just found it. What a lovely place. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Julia, a dance project inspired by an old church sounds fascinating. I'm glad you liked the photographs.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Beverly, I wonder the same things! Not only what they were like when people lived in them, but, like you, what the plant life was like so far back in time, too. I haven't tried to write any stories about the ruins around here, but they have inspired some poetry.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi Rosi. Apparently there are more places around here like this. I would like to see more of them and compare. A couple of years ago a friend took us to an old Roman site.

Mark Noce said...

So cool! I could spend all day in a spot like that:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Mark, I think you would like ruins like these so much. They are Celtic, as are the characters in your wonderful books.

DMS said...

I do love old buildings and ruins. They seem like they hold a lot of power to me. Thanks for taking us on your journey through these ruins. How interesting! Sounds like a magical day. :)
~Jess

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Jess, yes, for me, too. There is something mystical about the aura on ancient buildings—for me, anyway. Almost like seeing the world through veil of time. Thanks for stopping by.