LET US SAVE OUR HERITAGE! LET US SAVE THE ANCIENT BRIDGES AND ROAD AT ZAMUDIO (BISCAY)
HELP US KEEP OUR HERITAGE!
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During the summer of 1997 some traces of metalworking related to an ancient road and 2 old stone bridges were discovered in the village of Zamudio (Biscay, Basque Country, Spain).
One of the bridges ("Puente Aricondo" shown above in the photo), is a single span bridge, whose structure consists of well cut regular stone blocks and it bore singular carved marks in the rib arch face.
A cross was carved on the central voussoir and the adjacent voussoirs each had one letter inscribed, namely an "L" and a "Z". These marks gradually became symbolic of the limits of the village, "Z" standing forZamudio village and "L" standing for Lezama village. This demonstrates the survival of an ancient practice which was employed to indicate territorial borders/boundaries.
A combination of archaeological analysis and extensive consultation of local and national archives has allowed us to date the remains found by the road.
One of the bridges dates back to the 18th century. Furthermore, this research has pointed to some distintive features:
According to documentation found in the archives dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, all the remains belonged to an ancient road that linked the medieval cityof Bilbao to Guernica, the symbolic centre of the Basque country.
Saint James Way
This route, in use from the Middle Ages until the 20th century, was part of another symbolic route, namely the pilgrim route to Saint James of Compostela. Before the French route (through Navarre and Castille) became popular there was a coastal route from France and from England (Southampton to Bermeo's port and then through this coastal route either up to Bilbao, Burgos and Santiago or straight along the Cantabrian coast to Santiago).
As Roman sites flank this route, we can presume that it was in use during the Roman period, as there is enouh evidence for its antiquity and usage. It is also possible to outline the path of the route which was still used in the twentieth century. That is probably why we have not been able to find metal working remains dating from before the 18th century.
Heritage at risk
A recent project propose to construct a motorway over the area which this route covers; in fact, it will pass through the bridges and the metalworking site by the road.
The Basque Government has been informed about thediscovery. Evidence of the antiquity and on the character/nature of the remains has also been provided. Surprisingly, the Governmenet sector responsible for the National Heritage have alleged economic reasons for not diverting the motorway for a mere 100 metres in order to preserve the remains. Moreover, they stated that they cannot protect the entire National Heritage (but where should we draw the line?: do we have to keep 50 out of 100 sites? Based on which criteria?)
Are political reasons involved? (The Saint James Pilgrim Route reminds us all of a national or "Spanish" route).
Archaeologist are astonished and at a loss for words! If there is no pressure from outside the Basque Country, remains of the past must once more besacrified for no obvious and clear-cut reason.
HELP US KEEP OUR HERITAGE!