El Castillón, a Settlement from the 5th to -6th Centuries AD nestled between the Visigoths and the SueviansA Village from the Late Roman Period

  1. José Carlos Sastre Blanco
  2. Patricia Fuentes Melgar
  3. Raúl Catalán Ramos
  4. Óscar Rodríguez Monterrubio
  5. Manuel Vázquez Fadón
  6. Alicia Álvarez Rodríguez
  7. Esteban Álvarez-Fernández
  8. Rodrigo Portero Hernández
Book:
Archaeology in the River Duero Valley
  1. José Carlos Sastre Blanco (coord.)
  2. Óscar Rodríguez-Monterrubio (coord.)
  3. Patricia Fuentes Melgar (coord.)

Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-5275-1307-5

Year of publication: 2018

Pages: 251-288

Type: Book chapter

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Abstract

Since 2007 the archaeological site of El Castillon has been excavated and has brought into light many interesting hypotheses on the Late Roman and Early Middle Ages settlements of the Esla River ( one of the most important tributaries of the Douro River and the historical frontier), which was the border between Asturians and Vaccaei in Pre-Roman times. During the Roman administration, it marked the limits of the Asturicensis and Cluniacensis dioceses, a structure which later was transformed into the frontier between Visigoths and Sue bi after the fall of the Roman Empire. El Castillon is located at the top of a hill facing a cliff over the river, narrowed through a limestone canyon and flowing into the Douro River. El Castillon was intermittently inhabited since the Bronze Age, as samples of schematic rock art show, but the most remarkable remains come from the transition between the Ancient and the Medieval Periods. Fieldworks at El Castillon have unearthed the structure of a complete urban settlement organized in different districts and separated with regular streets; more than 15 structures have been found by using magnetometric survey methods, and four buildings have been excavated, two of them being metallurgical furnaces for the processing of iron ore, and the two other being a large warehouse and a house. These findings fulfil by far the expected variety of materials and artefacts needed for the dwelling of a settlement of this kind, such as pieces of table and storing pottery (plain and decorated), metal tools, nails and knives, jewelry, bone-made and crystal plaster ornaments, buttons, needles, fibulae and weapons. Faunal remains are abundant in the different structures. The settlement was engulfed by a thick wall and isolated from the surrounding area by the river cliffs; both human and natural defensive elements prevented its inhabitants from being directly attacked or invaded. The actual situation of El Castillon as a main settlement in the Douro River basin western regions is undoubtedly possible because of the important structures and abundant materials found in it, but it is still unknown what the role in the conflicts between Visigoths and Suebi was, if the border was effectively existing and impassable, or if a permeability based on commercial exchanges and circulation of people existed. This period is of a great difficulty to be reconstructed due to the lack of written sources, so the only information available comes from archaeological findings. During the 5th and 6th Centuries the conflicts between Visigoths and Suebi were more frequent, and the situation of El Castillon was consequently more pressing, but it survived these conflicts because the remains of the 7th and 8th Centuries have been recently discovered. The study of this site tries to bring into light the context of the Suebi-Visigoth cultural interchange including rivalry, a concept which directly affected the settlement in the Esla Valley.