Thursday, June 25, 2009

Archaeological Findings at Lizarate Pass

This note was published at EiTB:

Remains of a medieval castle at the gates between Gipuzkoa and Alava

Olwen Mears

The historical significance of the ancient doorway between two Basque provinces comes further to light with the discovery an ancient dwelling and inn.

Those responsible for leading excavations into the St Adrian tunnel (between Gipuzkoa and Alava) which started a year ago have been amazed by recent findings.

"This is double what we expected (to find)," said one archaeologist. "Without doubt, what is emerging here is a big surprise."

Remains which have been found inside the tunnel, where today only the old Roman road and an ancient chapel still stand, have lead archaeologists to conclude that there once stool a medieval castle of some magnitude, as well as possibly an inn and a cemetery. All of these are evidence of the importance of the underpass which joins the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Alava.

The Lizarate pass, better known as the San Adrian tunnel, was once the entrance to Gipuzkoa and the Roman road that runs through it united the ancient kingdom of Castille with France.

"It was like the N1 (important highway that runs from Madrid to the Basque town of Irun) of its day ... marketers, princesses,.. everybody traveling between Castille and France would have to have passed through here," explained one of the diggers.

Furthermore, remains have also been found from the Bronze Age, two metres below where the current archway stands, proving that the passageway was previously much wider.

Representatives from the council of Gipuzkoa will continue to encourage the archaeological exploration of the site with the objective of retrieving this historically strategic spot of the Aizkorri Aratz national park.

As one council deputy explained: "Firstly what we want to do is preserve the site and then of course give it the importance that is warrants."

This archaeologist needs some history classes, after the Romans there was no Castille and for hundreds of years there was a Basque kingdom called Navarre between Spain and France. Gipuzkoa and Araba where both provinces of that Basque sovereign state we call Nabarra.

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