HILLFORTS OF ASTURIES: CHAO SAMARTIN HILLFORT.

Chao Samartín is a hillfort located in the municipality of Grandas, Asturies. It was founded in the Bronze Age, around the year 800 BCE. The hillfort was discovered in 1977.

The beginnings of this fortified village lay toward the end of the Bronze Age (about 3,000 years ago); the first defenses are from this period, a moat and a palisade that surround a sacred enclosure with an entrance preceded by some large rocks. Inside a building was located that is quite large for its era (some 60 m²).

Already in the Iron Age the inhabited area of the hillfort started to grow considerably. In the 4th century. the defenses existed of a wall and several moats that in their interior contained dwellings of circular and rectangular plan with rounded corners. These dwellings had one room and a roof of plant materials. The only entrance to the village was from the south through a large gate over a moat. The inhabitants were farmers, prepared foods in ceramic pots and pans and used tools of iron, copper, silver and gold, as is shown by the objects that have been found at this location. In this era, the first sauna in this hillfort was built.

With the arrival of the Roman Empire, a period of peace and prosperity began that altered the defensive character of the hillfort because the inhabitants started to take advantage of the fact that nearby several gold mines were found. Their prosperity came to a halt when the settlement was suddenly abandoned after an earthquake taking place toward the 2nd century AD.

Excavation of the hillfort were begun in 1990 and there is still a large part of the village hidden under the soil that has not been studied yet. Investigations showed that the settlement was suddenly abandoned, which is explained by findings of many tools, jewelry and other objects of value that pertain to the Roman Period.

Bibliography:

Website of the hillfort and museum of Chao Samartin hillfort.

VILLA VALDÉS, A. (2005): El castro de Chao Samartín. Guía para su interpretación y visita. Ed. Sociedad Arqueológica Profesional. Asturias.

VILLA VALDÉS, A. (2007): “Mil años de poblados fortificados en Asturias (siglos IX a.C.-II d.C.)”, en J.A. Fernández-Tresguerres (Coord.): Astures y romanos: nuevas perspectivas. Oviedo, 27-60.

VILLA VALDÉS, A.& CABO PÉREZ, L. (2003): “Depósito funerario y recinto fortificado de la Edad del Bronce en el castro del Chao Samartín: argumentos para su datación”, en Trabajos de Prehistoria 60, nº 2. Madrid, 143-151.

VILLA VALDÉS, A. (Ed.) (2009): Museo Castro de Chao Samartín. Catálogo. Consejería de Cultura y Turismo del Principado de Asturias y Asociación de Amigos del Parque Histórico del Navia. Oviedo.

Photographs and illustrations:

1st.- Aerial view of the Chao Samartín hillfort. Author: unknown. Source: National Geographic Society.

2nd.- Skull of a girl of about 15 years of age found in an urn inside the Chao Samartin hillfort. Author: unknown. Source: LNE newspaper.

3rd.- Defensive wall of the Chao Samartín hillfort. Author: unknown. Source: website.ideal,es

4th,.- Chao Samartín hillfort. Author: unknown. Source: EVE Museografía.

 

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