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Bronze Age


During the last years some papers introduced new rock art groups in Northern Galicia, beginning to change our peception of Galician rock art distribution. These new findings, usually placed near the coast of Southern A Coruña province, allowed us to think about an important change in geographical distribution of Galician rock art. This paper introduces some results of this work, focusing on new rock art groups as well as in the analysis of its location and its spatial connotations.

Galicia (NW Spain) is a well-known rock art area. Since first papers appear in early 20th century, a lot of new rock art groups were published, specially during 1930”s and 1960”s-1970”s, usually focusing on southern area of this region.

Pontevedra Province and Northern Portugal appeared, in traditional papers and dissertations, as the main focus of Galician rock art, with a huge diversity of stations and motifs, while northern areas did not have more than isolated groups as Castriño de Conxo (Santiago de Compostela) or Laxe da Cabras (Riveira).

During the last years some papers introduced new rock art groups in Northern Galicia, beginning to change our peception of Galician rock art distribution. These new findings, usually placed near the coast of Southern A Coruña province, allowed us to think about an important change in geographical distribution of Galician rock art. Was not it possible to find more rock art groups in northern Galicia changing, this way, traditional theories?

Since mid 1990”s the Grupo de Arqueoloxía Terra de Trasancos (Trasancos County Archaeology Group) has found several petroglyphs near Ferrol, in the Northern coast, while exceptional rock art groups were found at Costa da Morte (NW Galicia). Basing in all these findings, we began a field work trying to locate more groups in the province and stablish some new theories about their location.

This paper introduces some results of this work, focusing on new rock art groups as well as in the analysis of its location and its spatial connotations.

Rock Art of Barbanza Peninsula:

Barbanza Peninsula is a natural county placed between Ría de Arousa and Ría de Noia(1) , in Southern area of A Coruña Province. It is very Near of Rianxo Area, where in late 1990”s more than 50 rock art groups were found.

In 1999 only six rock art groups were known in this region, most of them published by Agrafoxo Pérez and Gil Agra. During that summer we found two new rock art groups in Baroña and at Portela the Gourís, both in Porto do Son.

The petroglyph of Outeiro da Pedra Bicuda (Sharp Rock Hill) in Baroña, shows the depiction of two deer, a stag and a small specimen identified as a hind or an inmature deer. This group, than can be dated in Bronze Age, is specially interesting due to the stag”s pose, identified as a rut attitude.

Portela de Gouris group is an historical group, probably made during Middle Age or even later. It is composed by more than 30 crosses of different types, and other unidentified motifs, and it could be an old landmark.

In 2000 Manuel Mariño del Río published a book introducing a number of 13 new petroglyphs in this area. The most interesting of these groups is Esparrelle Petroglyph (also known as Monte Espiñeiro I Petroglyph), where two spirals are depicted near some deer representations and other motifs.

During summer and autumn of 2000 several new rock art groups were found. Most of them are placed in northern coast of the Peninsula (Porto do Son), but there are also some groups in the southern area (Boiro, Lousame, Riveira). Cupmarks and cup-and.ring are well represented, as well as deer depictions. There are other motifs, as spirals, goats or human depictions less represented in this area. Anyway, the number of known groups (more than 50 at the end of 2000) and the diversity of motifs, seemed to confirm our theory about rock art distribution in A Coruña province.

2001 was a transcendental year for our researches. In June a new book ”Arte rupestre do Barbanza” (Barbanza Region Rock Art), written by Jorge Guitián Castromil and Xoán Guitián Rivera, was published. In it, a number of 99 rock art groups were introduced and analyzed. These new groups are cupmarks, cups-and-ring, crosses, deer, goats, hunting scenes, spirals, arms, etc. The huge diversity of motifs confirms our theory about Galician rock art spatial location, and seems to link Pontevedra province rock art with Muros rock art group(2) . Recently, during the first days of June of 2002, we knew that a number of more than 50 new rock art groups were founded in Carnota. We have not been able to visit the area yet, but this information seems to confirm the theories unfolded in this paper.

Some of the most interesting new rock art groups are:

- Espiñaredo I: The only motif in this rock is a sword or a dagger that can be identified as a Late Bronze Age Model.

- Rego de Corzo I: It is a complex composition of cupmarks, cup-and-ring, concentric circles and isolated lines placed near a small river.
- Outeiro de Campelos: Probably one of the most spectacular groups in the whole province. The vertical rock shows three stag depictions, while horizontal rock shows another stag and a cupmark.
- Campo Grande I: A big stag depiction (135 cm. long), near two small deer (hinds?) depictions. This group is very near of Campo Grande II and Campo Grande III, where another two deer are depicted.

There are also some small areas with an important concentration of rock art groups. Some of them are near a river or a damp field:

- Rego do Curral de Baixo: This area is composed by a number of 8 rock art groups. Most of them show only crosses of different sizes and types, but there are also cup-and-ring marks and three stags depictions.
- Fonte do Sendio Area: This area is placed near Fonte do Sendio village, and it is composed by a number of 6 rock art groups, all of them showing animal depictions. Probably the most interesting is rock Nº2, where two goats are depicted. This kind of animal representation is very unusual, and it only appears in other three groups (two of them in Barbanza Peninsula and the other in Pontevedra province). The other five groups show deer depictions. Near there, at the top of the mountain, is placed Pedra das Cruces (Crosses Stone), where many crosses and cupmarks are depicted.
- Chan de Reis (Kings”s Plain) Area: This is probably the most interesting area in the whole Barbanza Peninsula. This is a plain surrounded by eight rock art groups, which seems to delimit the area. They are all circular depictions, with single cupmarks, cup-and-ring, and complex concentric combinations. The location of the rocks, surrounding the plain, allow us to theorize about the use of prehistoric rock art as a signal code used to sign or delimit a territory. Maybe it is not a valid hypothesis in all cases, but it seems to be valid in this concrete area.

Nowadays we know more than 120 rock art groups in Barbanza Peninsula. This fact convert this area in one of the most dettached of the whole province, and in an important reference for Galician rock art. We can now deffend the existence of an important area of rock art in northern Galicia, extending from Ulla Valley, the Southern limit with Pontevedra province, across the western coast and the inland near Santiago de Compostela to the northern coast, near A Coruña and, specially, Ferrol.

We can, however, identify some tendences in Northern rock art distribution, that allow us to delimit some sub-areas:

- The Southern region of A Coruña province, where Barbanza Península is placed, has an important number of rock art groups, with an important concentration near the coast. The most important group of motifs is composed by zoomorphic depictions, specially diferent kinds of deer, but also goats, horses (riding scenes) and a dog. There are also a relatively important group of cupmarks and cup-and-ring, while arm depictions are less common.
- The inland has a minor number of rock art groups. There are not animal depictions, except in Laxe Negra (Ames), where a deer and a goat appear, and at a still unpublished rock recently found at Fondao (Teo). The most important iconographical group is formed by concentric circles and cup-and-ring, but there is also a rock art group with spirals (Monte Pedroso, Santiago), and an exceptional arm group (Castriño de Conxo, Santiago).

- Western coast, has a minor number of groups than Southern areas. Animal depiction and concentric circles are well represented, with a huge concentration of deer depictions at Muros (Cova da Bruxa, Cova do gato, etc.) and circles appearing in Muros, but also in Carnota and Outes. In Monte Naraio I (Muros)two labyrinth appear, as Laxe das Rodas (Wheels Rock), placed also at Muros, was identified as an astronomical calendar. Recent findings in Carnota seem to increase the relative importance of this area, but we can not confirm these facts until we can visit the area.

- The Western inland has a small number of rock art groups. Most of them appear in A Baña, where 10 cupmarked rocks were found recently. In Pedra Ancha (Wide Stone), near Dumbría, is placed one of the most important Bronze Age arm depictions of Galicia, showing Swords and halberds. There are also several isolated groups at Mazaricos.

- The northern coast is beginning to appear, since mid 1990”s, as a relatively important rock art area. Most rock art groups in this region have cupmarks or cup-and-ring marks, and there is just one known rock with animal depictions in Laxe. A strange composition showing two human depictions, probably from Middle Ages, are placed near Coirós. The group of Chamorro (Ferrol), showing cup-and-ring marks, is one of the best known of this area.

Nowadays, more than 300 rock art groups are known in this province, and they seem to be just a small part of total. Probably future researches will allow us, in the next years, to know more about rock art in this province, usually forgotten in traditional researches.


(1)A Ría is a deep and wide harbour similar to norwegian fjords.

(2)A group on 20 petroglyphs placed in Muros and Carnota, in the western coast of A Coruña



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