In Roman times (first century BC/fourth century AC), the Terva River upper valley witnessed a new territorial occupation focused on the intensive exploitation of the region mineral resources, in particular the gold primary deposits.

Roman settlement of Batocas. Photo TR/VB

In the wide ancient mining complex of the Terva River upper valley, stands out the important Roman mining sites of Batocas and Carregal and the extraction areas of Batocas, Limarinho, Poço das Freitas and Brejo. On site, there are large ‘cuts’ of open air dismantling, countless mouths of galleries, wells, dikes and canals, in a landscape profusely cut by trenches of variable amplitude, among which we can see residual pyramids and lagoons, and where a climatic vegetation cover has developed, dominated by oak forests.

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Mines of Poço das Freitas

Located between the Calvão and Vidoeiro brooks, the site known as Poço das Freitas is one of the most significant testimonies related with the ancient mining activity on the Terva Valley. The extraction site covers an area with around 1000 meters in the North/South direction and 700 meters between the East and West. Clearly perceptible are the open-pit excavation areas shaped by ‘cuts’ and trenches that are outlined by underground galleries and vertical wells.

Mouths of galleries. Photo TR/VB

Inside some galleries, the presence of shores can still be seen in the form of gaps and inlets alongside some niches where the Romans used to place their lamps.

The lagoon naming the site – Poço das Freitas, is a reservoir that might have been a Roman dam, and performs a site of paramount importance in the overall mining exploitation process.

Lagoon of Poço das Freitas. Photo TR/VB

After the intense Roman exploitation, the area endured recurrent exploitation periods, however sporadic and with smaller-scales, up to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mines of Limarinho

Mines of Limarinho. Photo TR/VB

The Limarinho cuts and lagoon are the most notable landscape expression of the ancient mining in the Terva Valley. In Limarinho, the overwhelming scale of the open-pit mining is evident alongside the conducted extraction areas in the landscape, well attested by the cuts, the trenches and the remnants residual pyramids.

Lagoon of Limarinho. Photo TR/VB

The open-pit excavation works followed a North-South direction and covered an area with over two square kilometres. This is also the area housing the largest identified and conserved vertical well, locally known as minóculo. The well has an estimated depth of around fifteen meters, with the inlets from the shoring being identifiable. Opposite the well is the end of a hall gallery where the presence of shore can also be seen alongside lamp niches.


Mines of Batocas

The Batocas mining extraction site is located between the watercourses of Ardãos and Sangrinheira, it has around 550 meters in its North/South direction and 260 meters between the East and West.

Lagoon of Batocas. Photo TR/VB

Dense oak tree forests, and the occasional small lagoon, currently cover the area. The mining site includes wide ‘cuts’ and trenches and the entrance to the galleries can be seen on the side slopes.

Roman settlement of Batocas. Photo TR/VB

Overhanging the exploitation area is the Roman mining settlement of Batocas that is currently under archaeological research.

Mines of Brejo

In an area measuring approximately twelve hectares between Bobadela and Castro do Brejo, there are several open-pit trenches and gaps of varied orientations, sizes and widths alongside the remains of galleries and side slopes.

Lagoon of Brejo. Photo TR/VB

Around the old Forest Guard House there is the lagoon of Brejo, corresponding to an old and wide pre Roman mining extraction site.

Outside the exploitation unit, however still within the direct influence area of the site far west side exists the hillfort of Brejo believed to have been an Iron Age mining settlement.

This mining complex, an unparalleled site in Northern Portugal, has unique features in terms of authenticity, originality and monumentality and a heritage value of high scientific, historical and cultural interest. It has been classified as a Site of Public Interest (Decree-law nº 386/2013, Diário da República, 2.a series-Nº 115-18, June 2013).

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