ASTURIAN HILL FORTS: NOEGA HILL FORT.

The castro of Noega, also known as Castro de la Campa Torres due to its location, is a typical pre-Roman fortified settlement of Asturian origin, located west of the city of Gijón, in the Principality of Asturias, specifically on the promontory of the Campa Torres on the current port of El Musel. It was founded by the cilúrnigos, a gens of the Astures. Once conquered the peninsula by the Romans it became the oppidum of Noega.

Structure of the hill fort:

In the archaeological site, in the second decade of the 21st century, two large areas could be distinguished: the defensive complex and the interior plain or “campa”.

The defensive set of the hill fort is composed of a pit in the form of “V” and excavated in the base rock, moat, lower wall and wall. All these elements form one of the most spectacular sets of architecture and absolutely unknown in such ancient dates in the peninsular Atlantic façade, since its construction can be dated to the middle of the 7th century BC. C. or beginning of the 6th century a. C.

Perhaps the most original, particular and particular feature of this defensive complex, is the compartmentalization of wall canvases in juxtaposed sections or “modules”, which consists in the realization of oblong and independent sections that overlap one another while being connected, although without interlock with each other. The method requires units encircled by an external parament along the entire contour, with rounded angles and a filling of stone blocks of irregular disposition in its interior. This system of walls of modules was defined for the first time by the archaeologist José Luis Maya González. Both inside the walls of the wall, as in the moat, you can see several boxes of stairs to access the upper part of the structure.

In the interior plain or town, two types of domestic architecture must be distinguished: the Asturian huts and the Roman houses. Chronologically it is necessary to specify that the natives appear in the fort with their foundation and last in the first moments of the romanization; the change of era is the point of departure for the first Roman constructions, which will see their decline in the late third and early fourth centuries.

Asturian huts have been located in two areas of the site, immediately behind the wall and in the field itself. All the Asturian houses were built with materials of perishable character (wood, mud, grass, straw, etc.). They have a circular or semicircular floor, decorated or not homes and compacted clay pavements. The houses are modest, in them, only a few activities should be developed, such as sleeping, shelter from the inclemency of time and keep your most precious belongings.

The first inhabitants of Noega (astures) discovered the existence of underground springs and captured their waters by building wells and cisterns to supply the town.

The people of Noega:

The first settlers of Noega called themselves cilúrnigos, name of celtic root that possibly means “the boilermakers”, and that perhaps made reference to one of its more important activities: the smelting of metals.

Metallurgy: The Astures of Noega were mainly dedicated to the casting of bronze (copper and tin alloy), gold, silver and iron steel. This work demanded a deep knowledge about metallurgy, since the Indians obtained a great performance, turning the town of Noega into one of the richest settlements of the entire Cantabrian coast. In the site, a large number of objects have been recovered as proof of this activity: crucibles, nozzles, foundry molds, ingot molds, fibulae, earrings, pins, needles, hooks, rings, beads, etc.

Agriculture and harvesting: Agriculture is one of the worst activities in the archaeological record of the Campa Torres, but remains of wheat (Triticum dicoccum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) have been preserved. The first bread, which must be dehulled, and straw used as livestock feed or roof covering; the second, it should be consumed in the form of porridge, such as the traditional “fariñes” Asturian, and could also be used to obtain various beverages, such as beer or barley water. The shortage of cereals in the north forced its inhabitants to look for another type of vegetal resources to supply this deficiency, being one of them the acorn, that allows after its roasting and crushing to obtain a flour that could be consumed like the barley. Possibly the wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea) was consumed. The hazelnuts and walnuts would complete the alimentary panorama of vegetal origin verified in Noega.

Cattle raising: By the faunal analyzes carried out in the Noega it is known that the Astures were cattlemen. The abundance of bovines (Bos taurus) stands out in his cabin, which should have been the most profitable animal for meat consumption, also used for its dairy products and as a draft animal, since it seems clear the existence of the car on these dates. The fact that it has been observed that much of the remains of cattle slaughtered has less than two years of age implies a waste, denoting a wealth sufficient not to wait for the period of fullness of the animal, it is at this time when reached the optimum weight and reproductive maturity.

They are followed by importance the sheep and goats (Ovis aries and Capra hircus), dominating the sheep on the goats; their meat was consumed when the animals had between one and a half years and two years, that is, after the first parturition, although their use as sources of meat, dairy and wool resources is not ruled out.

The pig (Sus scrofa domestica) occupies the third place in the cattle hut of the cilúrnigos, although it is difficult to differentiate the remains of the domestic pig from those of the wild boar. The possibility of miscegenation between the two is not ruled out, since this type of animal possesses a certain semi-freedom.

Asturcón (Equus caballus), Asturian horse, has a relatively scarce presence: at first it was thought that the animals of the Campa Torres had been hunted, but the meticulous analysis of the remains was observed that they were old and domestic horses , when lesions appear on the front legs, characteristics of mountaineering animals to load the weight on these extremities, unlike shooting, which suffer from the hind legs. Depletion marks appear in some specimens at ages before the age of five, from which a food or sacrificial purpose is deduced.

The dog (Canis familiaris) is an animal seldom alluded to in Cantabrian prehistory, but in Noega, there are remains of three good-sized specimens that should have been used for grazing, as well as for hunting, and not habitually consumed.

Hunting, fishing and shellfishing: The hunting practice on the part of the cilúrnigos was considered as a playful, sportive activity or occasional obtaining of meat on the margin of domestic animals reared in the town. The most hunted species was the deer (Cervus elaphus), which was to be found in the forests south of the peninsula where Noega is located, generally young specimens (less than five years old), but not always, as remains of worked horns of older animals. The rest of hunting species is completed with wild boar (Sus scropha), mountain goats (Capra pyrenaica), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and several types of birds.

Fishing was an activity that took place on the immediate coast, especially in nearby rocky areas and to a lesser extent on beaches. Among the most frequent catches are the maragota, the sea bream, the chopa, the snapper, the breca, the gilthead bream, the sea bass, the mullet and the horse mackerel. Exceptionally, remains of mackerel, or pelagic species, have been found, but it can not be guaranteed that they have done more fishing, as this species approaches the coast seasonally. Everything suggests that the fishing was done well from land or from very rudimentary small boats, having found hooks of various types and sizes, but no type of weights perforated or notched, as in other northeastern deposits and that would inform us of the use of the fishing net.

Remains have been found of the use of various types of mollusks, mainly rock and also sand. Barrels have appeared inside the wall with remains of limpets, monodontas, mussels, cockles, barnacles, conches and sea urchins. Undoubtedly, they were intended for consumption, appearing interspersed with fish bones and even with fire marks, but they also had an ornamental use or as household items. Among the crustaceans only the consumption of crab has been verified.

An exceptional find in the fort, was the appearance of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) remains in very ancient levels astures, probably it was an animal stranded on the coast from which they had to take advantage of their meat, fat and bones.

Trade: The trade was made using maritime and land routes, both complicated but viable, given the special orography of the north of the peninsula. The navigation had to necessarily suffer from the particular conditions of the Cantabrian Sea, especially in unfavorable weather stations, with drawbacks such as storms from the northwest and north, combined with open ports towards this last direction. They were also an obstacle to the high and rugged coasts, the mobility of sandy bars in rivers and estuaries that favor the mudslides and the marine currents, very variable in the coast, but with predominate directions from east to west in depth, that make difficult the crossing in direction contrary. In spite of this there must have been exchanges through the use of the cove where El Musel is located today for cabotage. Another important factor is the close situation of the copper, tin, gold, iron and lead mines. Nowadays it is unknown who channeled all this traffic. We must suppose that they were not astures, since from the study of the ichthyofauna it is deduced that they belong to coastal species, and therefore they would not have enough nautical means to face this enterprise. It is also doubtful that the Phoenicians, owners of the Andalusian copper, resorted to the Asturian, given their remoteness and greater control difficulties. In addition there are no testimonies of amphorae or other types of Phoenician ceramics in Noega.

It remains, therefore, the possibility that it was the people of the northeast who tried to alleviate their metal deficiencies by obtaining metals and alloys astures. Or, on the other hand, settlers of the French Atlantic coasts, which could justify the appearance of Greek ceramics but Phoenician. The commercial relations of the inhabitants of Noega with other nearby human settlements were probably due to the preponderance of Noega over the rest, due to its greater size and importance. It is possible that Noega, better placed for the production of cereals and other plant resources, contributed to the supply of these basic necessities, of which the town was surely in deficit. There is also a dependence on copper and tin, so it is necessary to establish a series of terrestrial connections. These commercial ties made the Noega hill fort one of the few well-known ports of the Cantabrian coast: this would generate a certain understanding that could have been sufficient argument for the cilúrnigos not to show resistance to the Romans, joining the orbit of the Roman Empire in a way peaceful, unlike what the peoples of the mountains or the Plateau did.

Sources:

MAYA, J.L. (1984),”La Campa Torres. Un yacimiento inmerso en la historia y la geografía de Gijón”, Gijón Romano, Gijón.

MAYA, J.L. (1984), “Lápida del Cabo Torres hoy en el Tabularium Artis Asturiensis”,Gijón Romano, Gijón.

MAYA, J.L. (1984), “Tres campañas de excavaciones en la Campa Torres”,Gijón Romano, Gijón.

MAYA, J.L.(1988), “La cultura material de los castros asturianos”, Estudios de la Antigüedad 4/5, Barcelona.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.(1990),”Excavaciones en la Campa Torres”, Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias, 1, Oviedo. Asturias.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.;(1990), Guía arqueológica de Gijón romano, Gijón.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.(1992),”Excavaciones en la Campa Torres (1986-1990)”, Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias (1986-1990), Oviedo. Asturias.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.(1992),”El castro de la Campa Torres: orígenes de Gijón”, Los orígenes de Gijón, Gijón, Asturias.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.(1992),“El castro de la Campa Torres: orígenes de Gijón”, Guia de la exposición, Ateneo Obrero de La Calzada, Gijón, Asturias.

MAYA, J.L.; ROVIRA, S.; CUESTA, F.; BERTÍ, J.P.(1993), “Archo-metallurgia del bronzo nel villaggio prerromano de la Campa Torres” SMI Review. Art an Technology 17, Firenze.

MAYA, J.L.; ROVIRA, S.; CUESTA, F.; (1993) “Metalurgia del bronce en el poblaco prerromano de la Campa Torres (Asturias)”, Pyrenae, 24, Barcelona.

MAYA, J.L.; CUESTA, F.(1995),”Estratigrafía e interpretación histórica en la Campa Torres (1991-1994)” Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias (1991-1994), Oviedo. Asturias.

CUESTA, F.; MAYA, J.L., (1995) Catalogo Astures: piezas. “El pueblo de los Astures”, Astures, Pueblos y culturas en la frontera del Imperio Romano. Gijón Asturias.

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CUESTA, F.; MAYA, J.L., (1995) Catalogo Astures: piezas. “Los astures y Roma”, Astures, Pueblos y culturas en la frontera del Imperio Romano. Gijón Asturias.

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Wikipedia: https://ast.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capo_de_Noega

Translation Asturian to English:

Fernán Morán.

Photographs and illustrations:

1st.- Reconstruction drawing of hill fort Noega. Source: Educastur.

2nd.- Defensive wall. Author: Mili Morilla. Source: Tourism Asturias

3rd.-Defensive wall exterior of hill fort. Source: Villa Fotoblogg(http://villafotoblogg.blogspot.com/2018/02/castro-de-la-campa-torres-origenes-de.html)

3rd.- Asturian hut in Noega hill fort. Source: Villa Fotoblogg(http://villafotoblogg.blogspot.com/2018/02/castro-de-la-campa-torres-origenes-de.html)

4th.- Defensive moat. Author: Sitosimon.

5th.- Bronze Fibula with equine symbology found in the Noega hill fort. Dated between IV and II a.C. Source: Ministry of Culture and Sports (Spain)

6th.-  Asturian Hazelnuts

7th.-  Celtic sheep of Asturies. Oveya Xalda (Ovis aries celticus)

8th.-  Asturian Celtic Pony, called Asturcón.

9th.- Asturian coast

 

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