The consolidation of the Roman domain over the peninsular northwest brought a new territorial organization based upon the foundation of cities and the development of itineraries connecting the existing urban areas with wider important centres located in Galecia.

XVII Roman Road. Photo TR/VB

At the time, the current TVAP territory was part of the Conventus Bracarensis and was crossed, from west towards the east, by an important military Roman road connecting Bracara Augusta (Braga) to Asturica Augusta (Astorga) via Aquae Flaviae (Chaves). This was the XVII Roman road that accompanied the Terva river valley head between Ardãos and Seara Velha. Listed in the Antonine Itinerary in the third century of our era, this particular trajectory was structured and developed during the emperor Augustus reign (first century), as documented by some of the milestones signalling the circuit.

With the consolidation of the Portuguese Kingdom in the Middle Ages, a new settlement was structured and served by a new transport network system. The trajectories crossing the valley and running North-South were further developed in the TVAP area, which was, at the time, included in the Terra de Barroso region. There was also a reinforcement of a southern connection between Chaves and Braga via Carvalhelhos and Salto.


XVII Roman Road

Based upon documental, oral and historiographical archaeological data, it has been established that the layout of the ancient Roman road running across Pindo, Ardãos, Senhor do Bonfim and Seara Velha corresponded to a section of the Roman trajectory connecting Braga to Astorga through Chaves – the XVII Roman road listed in the Itinerarium Antonini.

XVII Roman Road. Photo TR/VB

This transport connection served several Roman settlements alongside the important mining region of the Terva Valley and presented a balanced topographic layout, as documented by preserved remains on its circuit.

At least, six milestones have been indirectly associated with its itinerary and they document the continuous maintenance works conducted on the Roman road, being the oldest works from the Augustan period (27BC-14AC) and the most recent from the emperor Adrian time (136-137).

XVII Roman Road. Photo TR/VB

The fragments from the Augustan milestone are stored at the TVAP Interpretation Centre. The milestone was reused as a sarcophagus in medieval times, however still exhibits the following inscription: IMP (eratori) CAE|s(ari)/AUGUSTO|O| A| BRAC|ARA M.P|LXV. The item was recovered from a hillside in Lapabar, Sapelos, nevertheless, it is believed that it must have originally been located at the Pindo area, in the mountainous region of Cervos, Montalegre.


Castelo da Contenda Medieval Road

With the medieval territorial restructuring, a new regional transport network system was established and the connection between Chaves and the Minho region was no longer operated through the ancient trajectory via the Montalegre region. Instead, the connection included southern circuits via Alturas do Barroso-Ruivães and Salto-Rossas; this change is likely related with problems in the appropriation of the land crossed by the old road on behalf of the Portuguese crown, as the later construction of the Montalegre castle, already in the fourteenth century, seems to suggest.

Castelo da Contenda Medieval Road. Photo TR/VB

In the initial part of the Terva river basin, other than the absent stone bridge that ensured the river crossing between Sapelos and Sapiãos in the trajectory heading south through the Carvalhelhos bridge, only an important circuit from the medieval period is preserved. It still exhibits slabs on the pavement.

Castelo da Contenda. Photo TR/VB

This is the Arcos-Bobadela circuit, referenced in the Inquirições de Afonso III, a document from 1258. It connected Cervos and Arcos (in Montalegre) to Bobadela and Sapiãos (in Boticas). At its mid-point, this trajectory equally served the medieval castle of Fragas da Contenda and documented the first attempts to organize the territory in the County of Portugal period.

Source: Unidade de Arqueologia da Universidade do Minho 2014, Rotas do Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Terva, Câmara Municipal de Boticas, Boticas.