The castreña culture belongs to the Iron Age, a hard, warlike period, full of insecurity. The Asturian hillforts, fortified towns of this time, are more than two hundred and fifty in the Principality. The best preserved, and the one that has produced the most archaeological fruits to date is Coaña. It is thought that in him they came to live between 1.500 and 2.000 people.
Known as the Castrillón, from there he watched and defended the passage of the Navia estuary. The Roman conquest made it a key place. The mission was to guarantee the gold traffic coming from nearby mines. Under command of the Roman Empire, its moment of greatest vitality will be the second half of the first century after Christ. The results of the constant excavations in this environment, from the first archaeological works in the nineteenth century, seem to confirm that the town dates back to pre-Roman era. A first indigenous settlement would be responsible for circular housing. During the Roman occupation the rectangular ones would be built. Coins have appeared from the time of Caesar and earlier, the most numerous correspond to the government of Augustus. Coins of Tiberius, Claudius and Quintillus have also been found, as early as the third century. Although its pre-Roman origin is difficult to date, the generalization that the Asturian castros are linked to the Roman occupation is being questioned lately. Dating with 14 carbon offer chronologies of the 7th and 8th centuries BC for other renowned Asturian castros, such as San Chuis or Chao San Martín, which until now have been considered a Roman foundation.
Whatever its origin, we walk along the path that leads to the heart of the ancestral village. We crossed an impressive stepped wall and observed the remains of a rectangular tower that strategically defended the entrance to the interior enclosure known as The Acropolis. Between the wall and the acropolis, in the North slope of the hill the urban nucleus of the town extends, denominated northern district. The size of the buildings, whether houses, warehouses, workshops ... varies between the 4 and 6 meters in diameter for the circular ones, and the 5 x 12 meters for the rectangular ones. In some, a central home is preserved, as well as millstones and large blocks of granite.
However, what will not attract attention is the area known as Sacral enclosure where there are two groups of constructions, one older than the other, related, presumably, with the cult of water. The first consists of a chamber with apse, semioval pool, paved floor and channels; the second is shown through an antechamber that precedes a large chamber; a door gives access to a large granite pool. Although its old use is still very controversial, everything seems to fit in a thermal installation. Yes, very rustic and elementary.
In a small valley adjacent to the castro is the didactic classroom of the Archaeological Park of the Navia Basin, whose contents deal with the castreña culture, the Roman gold mining and the archaeological method.
In the town of Coaña we can admire the Discoidea Stela, a round stone of great dimension. It is believed that it belonged to the castro and that it was linked to funerary or solar cults, later it became Christianized and began to be called Piedra de Nuestra Señora. It is located in a house at the exit of the Villa, and has become an emblematic element of the municipality.
The culmination of our approach to this culture can be complemented with a visit to the Archeological Museum in Oviedo, where pieces found in different Asturian archaeological sites are exhibited, including those of Coaña.
Photos Go with me.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com
Information of interestAddress / Location:
Telephone: 985 97 84 01
How to get there:
We start from Navia (crossed by the N-634 road). On the left bank of the estuary is the town of El Espin. there we take the AS-12 road in the direction of Grandas de Salime. After passing the town of Coaña, you access the fort and the didactic classroom through a detour to the right of the road.
More information: Castro de Coaña