Author Archives: sp146347-ovh

Miliários de Cortiço

In the village of Cortiço (Cervos, Montalegre) there is a milestone supporting the porch of a house, belonging to the Roman road from Braga to Chaves. Another fragment was reused in the garden of the house of Mr. Domingos in the municipal road EM1004 connecting the village to the national road EN103. He still remembers the existence of another similar fragment among the ruins of a village house. It is probably still there but today is no longer visible.

Coordinates milestone 1: 41.767853, -7.704702

Coordinates milestone 2: 41.771776, -7.704316

The archaeological collection of the Bética Hotel (Pias)

For many years Mr. Victor Hugo, founder and owner of Hotel Bética in Pias, was the
faithful keeper of the many archaeological materials that kept being found around the village.
We owe him the preservation of this objects that otherwise will lost or sell for the best price.
This interesting collection can be seen on the hotel lobby, namely coins, tegula, loom weights, glandes, rings, a small bronze figurine of a goat, and three inscriptions. Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact provenance of these findings as Mr Hugo couldn’t finalize the inventory of the collection due to his sudden death. Only his incredible collection of more than 200 Roman coins were subjected to a preliminary study in 2017 by Marco Paulo Valente but the work didn’t have any continuation.

Archaeological materials on display at the lobby of Hotel Bética

Three inscriptions found close to the village of Pias apparently with the same inscription:
SCLA DMA (?)

Bibliography: Valente, Marco P. (2017) – “Circulação monetária na Freguesia de Pias (Concelho de Serpa, Distrito de Beja). Quando Roma era Império”. in «Scientia Antiquitatis», vol. 1, nr. 2.

Coordinates: 38.022248, -7.480839

Milestone from Úl at Oliveira de Azemeis

Milestone in a central square of Oliveira de Azeméis but found in a village nearby called Úl. It marks 12 miles presumably to Langobriga (Fiães, Santa Maria da Feira). This milestone probably marked also the boarder between the civitates of Langobriga and Talabriga (next to Vouga river). Coordinates: 40.840254, -8.477716

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#porto_coimbra

Milestones from Barrelas at Guarda Museum

Two milestones found in a site called Barrelas close to Famalicão da Serra now on display in Guarda Museum. One is dedicated to Emperor Constantinus and the other to Emperor Tacitus still showing the 4 miles to Centum Cellae (Catraia da Torre, Belmonte)

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#viseu_belmonte

Milestone on the Chapel of Santa Marta (Chaves)

Two fragments of a milestone on yard of the Chapel of Santa Marta in Vila Frade (Chaves), close to the Spanish border. Fragment has no inscription and was probably the lower part of the milestone; Fragment 2 still has vestiges of an inscription dedicated to Marcus Aurelius Carinus that ruled the Empire from 283 to 285 AD. This Roman road coming from Aquae Flaviae (Chaves) continues through Lama de Arcos in the direction of Tameirón where another milestone was found. Coordinates: 41.807986, -7.410070

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#chaves_senabria

Milestones at Alcafozes

(Originally published on November 9, 2013)

A milestone dedicated to Augustus was found at the village of Alcafozes (Idanha-a-Nova) (now in Epigraphical Museum of Idanha-a-Velha) signals the Via Romana Igaedis (Idanha-a-Velha) to Emerita (Mérida) that crossed the village in the direction of the Roman bridge of Segura. Besides this one, in the village there are two more cylinder-shaped stones that could be originally milestones. One was reused in a wall of the village with coordinates: 39.949778, -7.119426

The other is on the corner of a street intersection next to the Parish Church and has no trace of letters with coordinates: 39.949731,-7.119369

Milestones at Idanha-a-Velha

(Originally published on November 9, 2013)

There are three milestone in the village of Idanha-a-Velha, ancient Igaedis or Igaeditana. Two at the Epigraphical Museum and both came from Alcafozes, one of them dedicated to Augustus; the third milestone without inscription is placed next to the Visigothic Church at the southern gate of the ancient city.

The Roman bridge of Campelos

(Originally published on January 12, 2015)

The Roman Bridge of Campelos over the Ave River is located northwest of Guimarães and connects the parishes of Vila Nova de Sande and Silvares in Guimarães and was part of the Roman road from Bracara Augusta towards Mérida ignoring Guimarães, since this city was only founded a long time later in the year 950 at the initiative of the Countess D. Mumadona Dias. Despite the successive repairs, the bridge’s structure still shows undoubted Roman characteristics with the typical perfect arched padded apparatus, presenting the typical robustness of the great works of that time; At least the northernmost arc does not look like reconstruction and allows to estimate its original configuration. The Roman road to Mérida certainly passed this crossing of the Ave and not upstream in the bridge of Caldas das Taipas, despite being “converted” into the “Camino de Santiago”; in fact there are clear references to this bridge in a document from the year 957 (PMH DC 71 ) and another from 1059
(PMH DC 420) as the “ponte petrina” (‘stone bridge’), showing that at that time the crossing was made on this bridge. After crossing the river, the road forked in 3 possible routes, the Roman Bridge of Negrelos towards Cale, the Roman Bridge of Arco de Vila Fria towards Tongobriga and the Roman Bridge of Vizela towards Meinedo and from here to the Douro river. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2015 to construct a pedestrian crossing, but its Roman origin remains ignored and so only few people notice that it is one of the best preserved Roman bridges in the entire Minho region and one of most important in Portugal. The bridge remains perfectly functional and still supports heavy road traffic from the industrial periphery of Guimarães, including heavy vehicles. Both the monument and the site deserve further attention. Coordinates: 41.462051, -8.345495
View in Google Street View

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#braga_guimaraes

The Roman bridge of Segura by Duarte d´Armas

(Originally published on January 12, 2015)

In 1509, King Manuel I commissioned his squire Duarte d’Armas to survey the state of 56 border fortifications in the kingdom, a work that was to be completed in 1510 and which resulted in a manuscript known as the “Book of Fortresses” (“Livro das Fortalezas”). This work shows illustrations of the main castles that defended the integrity of the national territory. In the illustration referring to the Castle of Segura, Duarte d’Armas represented the old Roman bridge over the Erges river in detail showing the semi-destroyed central arch, clearly showing that the bridge was unusable in the 16th century. This arch was later repaired and still today we can see a larger central arch much bigger that the rest. It is the oldest known representation of this important Roman work (so forgotten in current tourist itineraries) and therefore a document of the utmost importance. Coordinates: 39.817403, -6.981816

Images from the book “Castelos Templários Raianos: Castelos de Portugal”. Templar Days of Penha Garcia, August 2013. Authoring and Coordination: Colonel Dr. António Pires Nunes.
Edition: Câmara Municipal de Idanha-a-Nova

Roman remains in Valhelhas

(Originally published on June 20, 2014)

The village of Valhelhas (Guarda) was crossed by a Roman road coming from Viseu through the Serra da Estrela mountains towards Mérida; from this road there is still a milestone to Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus  found in Galrado, a site located on the left bank of the river Zêzere; this landmark passed through the parish church and today is at the entrance of the Parish Council (‘Junta de Freguesia’), along with the funerary stele of Proculinus dedicated to the Gods Manes, found in a private house; In the village there are other Roman remains, namely another ara without inscription outside the church and possibly another milestone in a private house, serving as a mailbox support (!). Several other columns scattered throughout the village may be milestones reused but there’s no way to be sure. Coordinates:
40.406976,  -7.402010

Road building in Roman times

(Originally published on August 22, 2014)

In an article published in 2009 – “Costruire strade in epoca romana: tecniche e morphologie. Il caso dell´Italia settentrionale ”, Michele Matteazzi of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Padua reviews the constructive panorama of the Roman roads in northern Italy, presenting the various techniques and morphologies identified during the archaeological excavations carried out in the region during the last century. This excellent compilation highlights on the one hand the wide variety of constructive techniques used by Roman engineering to overcome difficulties and on the other hand rebounds the great misconception that has plagued virtually all Roman road studies to date: the assumption that all the Roman roads were paved with great slabs of stone; This misconception originated in 1622 when Nicolas Bergier published his seminal work L’Histoire des Grandes Chemins de l’Empire Romain, when he (wrongly) considered a passage from Vitruvius that spoke of paving housing structures as a reference to the technique of road construction, proposing for the roads a stratigraphic sequence that became canonical, composed of statumen, rudus and nucleus; its persistence to this day is also linked to the little attention given to Roman road technique until very recently, as the traces have always pointed in another direction, ie the use of various construction processes and a wide variety of materials (often obtained in the vicinity of the work) arranged in successive layers which allowed a simpler and faster construction without losing its road efficiency. Given the importance that the article may have in the study of the road network in Portugal, I decided (with the proper permission of the author to whom I thank) to make its translation available in Portuguese. The article can be read in the Italian or Portuguese version.

“Roman” road in Canelas, Gaia

(Originally published on June 20, 2014)

The Roman road XVI between Bracara Augusta and Olisipo crossed the current municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia passing by Santo Ovídio and Canelas; the only testimony we have of this road is a small section of the pavement discovered in the 1930s on «Senhora do Monte» Street during the works for enlargement of the national road EN1; there’s a picture published by Armando de Mattos in 1937 in his little book “As Estradas Romanas no Concelho de Gaia”. Since then, the road has been mutilated by repeated repairs to the national road and the construction of an urbanization that has destroyed a few hundred meters of the old road. What is left now are a few surviving slabs of the original pavement still in place on the side of the modern road. The deep furrows as a result of the wear and tear caused by cartwheels over the centuries, a sign of its antiquity. Coordinates:  41.088836, -8.591531
View location in Street View

“Roman” road in Ereira

(Originally published on February 25, 2014)

Next to the village of Ereira (Sever do Vouga) there is still a stretch of Roman cobblestone with about 100m belonging to the main road linking Talabriga (Cabeço do Vouga) to Vissaium (Viseu); The site is easily accessible from the road between Talhadas and Reigoso. Note the depth of the grooves narks left by the passing cartwheels attesting its antiquity; note also the rock cuts and the perfect fitting of the polygonal-shape stone slabs. Coordinates: 40.673164,  -8.297535

Milestone in Trofa?

(Originally published on February 25, 2014)

Next to the old Trofa Train Station there is a granite mark on the side of road that may have its origin in a milestone of the Roman road Bracara Augusta – Cale. The dimensions of the cylinder and in particular its quadrangular base, as well as its location, near the Roman road that passed through here towards Cale, reinforce the possibility of being a milestone of this road, even because there were several nearby. Since its closure in 2010, the station has been abandoned and the milestone is at risk of disappearing; Coordinates: 41.339480,  -8.553820

Mozarabe Church of St. Peter of Lourosa

(Originally published on September 13, 2013)

The Mozarabe Church of S. Pedro de Lourosa, built in the 10th century AD is one of few surviving buildings from the Early Middle Ages. Its has parallelism with the churches of S. Pedro de Balsemão in Lamego, São Gião in Nazaré and São Frutuoso de Montélios in Braga. The church was founded in 912 in accordance with to an inscription on the door lintel of the main entrance, a time when the Asturian reign still dominated the region. In its interior there’s a quite interesting baptistery consisting of an irregular circular base at floor level and an engraved channel to conduct the holy water; a time capsule that brings us to the beginnings of this Christian rite.

Many Roman materials were reuse in its construction probable taken from a previous Roman temple erected in the very same place based on the votive inscriptions found here (one Ara dedicated to a deity called Picio and another to Iupiter); at the church entrance there are some other Roman materials, namely an ara and a column base, and in the exterior wall around the yard there are some more reused Roman stones. The sanctuary was probable a stop point on the road linking the Roman city  of Bobadela (we still don’t know its name) and the gold rich Alva river where several mining explorations were identified. Departing from the church there’s still a well preserved section of the road in the direction of the village of Pombal, namely a stretch of the original pavement still intact. The name «Calçada Romana» is found afterwards going to Vila Pouca da Beira. Coordinates: 40.317455,  -7.931800