The so-called rupestrian art is one of the domains of symbolic representation that most challenges the limits of interpretation, not only scientific but also popular. One of its best known manifestations are the compositions formed by geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, engraved on rock and whose original meaning usually escapes us.

Ancient Rock Carvings of Souto Escuro 1. Photo TR/VB

The engravings of the of the Terva River Upper Valley are part of the so-called Atlantic Art, a symbolic manifestation that is identified from the Vouga River to the British Isles and which is generally recognized to have been produced by the communities that occupied the territory between the 4th and 1st millennium BC.

Outeiro Gordo

The engravings are found on an extensive and flat granite slab that rises to the surface of the land, on the eastern edge of the hill, with a wide view over the Terva River valley.

Ancient Rock Carvings of Outeiro Gordo. Photo TR/VB

Two motifs are distinguished, separated from each other by about 3 m and engraved by pricking and abrasion. To the south one is simpler, quite eroded and to the north one is more complex, well preserved.

The first one corresponds to a circular figuration, composed of the rest of two concentric grooves. The second is also a circular figuration, which is organized around a small elevation of the outcrop, at the top of which a circle was furrowed, completely filled with dimples, marking the center of the composition, followed by two equally furrowed concentric rings and finally a sequence of four rings, also concentric, formed by aligned dimples.

The route is not marked in the terrain.

Souto Escuro 1

Located at the western edge of the Leiranco slope, near the village of Bobadela, the cave engravings identified at this location are inscribed on a granite slab facing east, to the valley, with about 14 m², partially fractured.

Ancient Rock Carvings of Souto Escuro 1. Photo TR/VB

Dispersed by the surface are identified countless grooves and dimples, obtained by pricking and abrasion, which draw concentric and pseudo-concentric circular motifs, which combine with dimples, curvilinear features and more rarely rectilinear features.

Ancient Rock Carvings of Souto Escuro 1. Photo TR/VB

Due to their evident stylistic harmony and internal connection, the motifs engraved on this rock seem to configure a compositional set of monumental character, in which the three-dimensional expression of the representation is relegated through the evident use of the topographic characteristics of the outcropping.

Souto Escuro 2

Like the site of Souto Escuro 1, from which it is about 200 m to N, this site is located at the foot of the southeast slope of the Leiranco mountain range, near the village of Bobadela.

Ancient Rock Carvings of Souto Escuro 2. Photo TR/VB

The engraving, obtained by peeling and abrasion, is found in a granite outcrop that runs along the path, an outcrop that is fractured by stone extraction. It is formed by a single circular motif, drawn by the furrows of four concentric rings, with a central dimple. On the east side, four dimples occupy the space between the 2nd and 3rd rings, partially interrupting its furrow.

Alto da Seara

Located on the left bank of the Ardãos stream, rock carvings are on a flat floor that develops to the Batocas lagoons, inscribed on a granite slab of approximately 25 m².

Ancient Rock Carvings of Alto da Seara. Photo TR/VB

The rock carvings, made by pricking and abrasion, include motifs composed of furrows that draw motifs that tend to be circular, curved and rectangular. Scattered over and around the furrows are, in large numbers, dimples, arranged in an apparently random manner, or at least, without us being able to recognize in their position an order or pattern. In the nascent side of the slab it is possible to observe a contemporary epigraphic set, where we can read  >1969/ DOMINGOS<.

Source: Unidade de Arqueologia da Universidade do Minho 2016, Rotas das Gravuras, Câmara Municipal de Boticas, Boticas.