The Castro Culture

The Word “castro” derives from Latin “castra, -orum” (military encampment) and refers to the Pre-Roman hillforts that spread throughout the northwestern area of the Iberian peninsula (present-day northern Portugal, north of river Douro; the whole of Galicia, and the westernmost areas of Asturias, of the province of León, and of the province of Zamora).

The origins of this Iron Age culture (Protohistory) date back to the 7th century BC. It came to an end in the 3rd century AD. “Castros” evolved in the course of time, also during the period of coexistence with Romans.

“Castros” were usually built in places that enabled its defense and the process of carrying out productive activities (agriculture, husbandry, mining, etc.).

Of an estimated 5,000 “castros” classified in Galicia only a small part have been archeologically excavated.

This culture was in contact with influences from the Mediterranean and Celtic worlds and has left behind – among others – samples of its jewelry (torcs, bracelets, earrings, and rings, etc…), weapons, pottery, sculpture, architecture, etc…

ARCHITECTURE

TABULA DE CASTROMAO
TABULA FROM CASTROMAO
(Celanova)

  • It dates back to the year 132 AD.
  • It’s located in “Plaza de Cervantes / das Pitas” (Cervantes / Pitas Square).
  • It’s a rectangular bronze plate regarding a treaty of friendship on an equal footing between the Coelerni – the inhabitants of Coeliobriga, the “castro” in Castromao – and the Romans.
  • It allows us to know that the “castro” in Castromao (Celanova) was Coeliobriga – the capital of the Coelerni.
  • It was unearthed in 1970 during excavations carried out at the archeological site of Castromao.
  • It’s a copy of the original.

 

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CASTRO DE CASTROMAO
CASTRO AT CASTROMAO
(Celanova (Castromao))

  • It was inhabited from the 7th century BC to early 3rd century AD.
  • It’s one of the most important archeological sites of the “Castro Culture” in the northwestern area of the Iberian peninsula due to its longstanding presence and the many findings it has yielded.
  • This “castro” – ancient Coeliobriga – was the capital of the Coelerni.
  • It’s located at 700 meters above sea level, from where some of the most important “castros” of the province of Ourense – of which Coeliobriga was its capital – can be sighted.
  • After the arrival of the Romans a secondary road of the Roman road XVIII (Via Nova) was built and the hillfort was heavily romanized.
    Castro de Castromao
    Video (from min. 10:51 to the end)

 

PARQUE ARQUEOLÓXICO DA CULTURA CASTREXA DE GALICIA DE SAN CIBRAO DE LAS
ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK OF THE CASTRO CULTURE OF GALICIA AT SAN CIBRAO DE LAS
(San Amaro – Puxín)

  • It’s one of the four parks of the “Red de Parques Arqueológicos de Galicia “ (Network of Archeological Parks of Galicia)
  • Its “Centro de interpretación del mundo castreño” (Visitor Interpretative Center) allows us to discover the relation of this culture with its territory, its social organization at local and general levels, its contacts with other cultures, its symbolic world, and its forms of expression, etc.
    Centro de Interpretación del mundo castreño
  • The archeological site of the “castro” of San Cibrao de Las (ancient Lánsbrica) (1st century BC until the early 2nd century AD) is one of the largest and most important in Galicia.
    Castro de San Cibrao de Las
    Photo Gallery
    Video of a Guided Tour

 

MUSEUMS / EXHIBITIONS

TORRE DA HOMENAXE
KEEP
(Celanova (Vilanova dos Infantes))

  • On the first floor it houses a scale model of the “Terra de Celanova” district with its landmarks, among which is the “castro” of Castromao.
  • On the second floor there’s an exhibition about the history of “Terra de Celanova” including the Castro Culture period. It houses replicas of some of the findings in Castromao:
    • The perforated triskel from Castromao
    • The clay oven from Castromao
    • The zoomorphic figure from Castromao

 

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MUSEO ARQUEOLÓXICO PROVINCIAL DE OURENSE
PROVINCIAL ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF OURENSE
(Ourense)

 

FESTIVAL 

FESTA DO ESQUECEMENTO
FESTIVAL OF FORGETFULNESS
(Xinzo de Limia)

Date: the second last weekend in August

  • It’s a historical re-enactment of the moment of the campaign of conquest of the northwestern region of the Iberian peninsula in 135 BC, when Romans crossed river Limia – which they mistakenly thought was river Lethe – the river of forgetfulness.
  • Apart from the re-enactment of the crossing of river Limia there are other enactments related to the history and culture of the “castro” culture and that of Rome (a battle between the “castro” population and the Romans, etc…)
    Festa do Esquecemento
    Video

 

*BIC* (Bien de interés cultural) – “Heritage of Cultural Interest” – applies to classified heritage in Spain.

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