The Hillforts of Boticas

povoados-fortificados-da-idade-do-ferro-de-boticas

The present Municipality of Boticas, created under the territorial and administrative reform of 1836, has an wide-ranging archaeological layer, amongst which is a dense occupation associated with the Iron Age, materialized in 21 fortified settlements, all of which with ruins of defensive walls, buildings in the interior platforms and ceramics. Some of these could be from previous period, perhaps from the Bronze Age, as evidenced by some handmade ceramics and the findings of bronze pieces (Hillfort of Brejo), while others had a wide occupation range, seeming to have lasted until the time of the Suevo-Visigothic domain.

 

Hillfort of Sapelos.

 

Although dispersed throughout most of the present area of the Municipality of Boticas, the careful analysis of its distribution reveals two major groups: one in the north-eastern zone, linked to the initial basin of the Terva River, and another one in the central and western zone, in the basin of the Beça River.

 

Hillfort of Carvalhelhos.

 

The first set includes eleven settlements, of different sizes, but generically implanted in hills of the higher slopes or in promontories at the lower or at the base of the slopes; nine of them are not more than 4 km appart from each other; four of these are aligned on the right bank of the river, at the base of the eastern slope of the Leiranco Mountain, in a buffer line of 5 km.

The second group is formed by ten hillforts, also of different sizes, dispersed over a larger area and more distant from each other, presenting diverse implantation solutions, sometimes exposed in the peaks, as we can see in the case of the Côto dos Corvos Hillfort, or sheltered in the bottom of valleys, implanted in spurs standing above water lines, such as the example of Ervas Ruivas or Poio hillforts.

 

castro-do-côto-dos-corvos

Hillfort of Côto dos Corvos.

 

The concentration of fortified settlements in the first 10 km of the course of the Terva River is quite remarkable. In addition to the favourable conditions, it is assumed that the settlement of populations in this initial section of the basin is especially related to the exploration of the auriferous and stannous reefs of Poço das Freitas and Batocas.

 

Poço das Freitas.

 

In some of the settlements of the second set, one can also identify traces of metallurgical activity, associated to mining areas.

Both in the first set as in the second, some of the settlements conserve constructive remains imprinted with an infrequent monumentality when it comes to this type of archaeological sites. Due to its size, the imposing walls and its geo-strategic positioning, one could highlight, in this case, the hillforts of Muro de Cunhas, Carvalhelhos, Lavradas, Giestosa, Cabeço and, above all, the imposing fortified hillforts of Nogueira and Lesenho.

 

castro-de-nogueira

Hillfort of Nogueira.

 

Dominating the main natural routes of communication and covering in its surroundings the fertile alluvial plains and alveoli of the Terva and Beça river basins, some of these settlements would have been central places within the proto-historic settlement framework of the region, to which several indigenous populi are referred to. One of these central places was, indisputably, the hillfort of Lesenho, from which four Gallaecian Warrior Statues are said to originate from.

 

 

Gallaecian Warrior Statues – DR.

 

The fortified settlements of Boticas are a cluster of high patrimonial value and of great scientific interest, offering extensive possibilities of valorisation. Its protection, conservation and valorisation have been a priority of the Municipality, through the integration of some of them in the Network of Hillforts of the Northwest, namely of the hillforts of Lesenho and Sapelos, the latter still in appreciation.

 

Source: Unidade de Arqueologia da Universidade do Minho 2018, Povoados Fortificados da Idade do Ferro de Boticas – Catálogo da exposição paralela ao “Simpósio Internacional: Interações Culturais e Paisagens em Mudança na Europa (séc. 2o a.C. / séc. 2o d.C.)”, Braga. / Photography: TR