The term castro is the designation normally given to Iron Age hillforts existing in several mountainous regions of the peninsular northwest. They perform one of the most monumental expressions of the intense occupation of this land throughout the Iron Age period, an era that reached its peak between the second century BC and the 1st century of our era.
Nine Iron Age hillforts are known to have existed within the TVAP perimeter, and they are all located on the valley borders of the Terva River. With diverse sizes they all present solid defensive systems. The smaller sites only exhibit one wall line and the wider include complex systems with two or three wall lines, as it is the case of the hillfort of Nogueira.
The extraordinary density of the castreja occupation in the Terva River Valley seemed to be linked with an intentional exploitation of existing mineral and metalliferous resources (gold and tin deposits) in the region.
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Hillfort of Cabeço
Located on a hill in the middle of the southern slope of the Leiranco Mountain and dominating the wide valley ending on the Terva River between Bobadela and Boticas exists a wide hillfort secured by three rugged wall lines. In the western part, a large and deep moat with an exterior grade preceded the defensive walls.
In the site inner platforms, ruins of circular plan houses can be observed, some of which exhibiting slabs on the pavement and still revealing the characteristic polygonal shape on the visible wall remains.
The site was subjected to archaeological excavation works and presented evidence of an occupation up to the elevation foothill, even in Roman times. A granite rock with engravings composed by several cups and grooves was found in the southwest part of the site.
Hillfort of Nogueira
Located on a rocky spur of the Leiranco Mountain southeast slope, this site is one of the most important castros in the Terva River Valley. It occupies an area with approximately six hectares and is positioned at over nine hundred meters of altitude. The site location offers favourable natural security conditions and a visual control over the initial part of the Terva River Valley basin.
The defensive system consists of three wall lines: the first line bounds the acropolis area, the second performs the most prominent line due to the impressive demolishment associated with it and structures the habitat intermediate platform; and the third wall line bounds the lower settlement terrace and reaches the small promontory that abruptly cuts the existing slope on the southeast side. The northwest area was the most vulnerable part of the settlement, however a field of rocks planted on the soil and currently tipped on their vast majority protected the site.
In the platforms de ned by the wall lines, the buildings are evident and there are abundant ceramic fragments of different production on the surface. It is believed the site was already occupied on the fourth/third centuries BC.
Hillfort of Murada da Gorda
This small settlement is located on a western spur of the Pindo Mountain, it overlooks the brook of Cerdeirinhas and provides an overwhelming panoramic view over the Terva River Valley.
An impressive wall incorporating the abundant rock massif on the top of the promontory dominates the defensive system. There is a filled up moat on the western part, and on the western area further south, there is a small wall that seems to somehow perform a grave/trench protecting the more accessible area. No construction remains have been identified inside the compound.
Hillfort of Muro de Cunhas
Located on a spur of conical morphology, at the far end of the municipalities of Boticas and Chaves, this site is bounded by two circular wall lines presenting a sharp overturn.
A field of rocks planted on the soil and located on the northern side complements the defensive system. Housing remains have been identified on the upper platform.
On the western slope, and partially overlapping one of the wall lines, there is a small hermitage conserved and framed on the rocky formation. Inside, there are some notable inscriptions and symbols engraved in low relief that reveal an evident religious syncretism associated with the Christian tradition.
The hermit José, who built, decorated and occupied the hermitage of the hillfort Muro de Cunhas at the end of the twentieth century, abandoned the site in the beginning of the twenty-first century and resettled in the Nossa Senhora das Neves sanctuary, in the past few years.
Hillfort of Sapelos
The Hillfort of Sapelos is located on a promontory in an elongated spur, on the left bank of the Terva River.
With two wall lines, consisting of granite and quartzite elements, the settlement presents a reinforced defense by two large surrounding pits, which are crossed by long ditches of probable mining extraction, forming a complex system of pits and ditches of equally complex interpretation.
On the upper platform you can see traces of circular-plan houses.
Source: Unidade de Arqueologia da Universidade do Minho 2014, Rotas do Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Terva, Câmara Municipal de Boticas, Boticas.