The Dolmen of Santa Elena

The neolithic dolmen at Santa Elena

The neolithic dolmen at Santa Elena

The other day I took a walk from Biescas up to Santa Elena and was pleased to see that they’ve put up some boards with information about the dolmen. The upper Gallego has one of the greatest concentration of megaliths in the Pyrenees.  The dolmen at Santa Elena is a simple but large dolmen that was destroyed during the civil war and reconstructed using the original stones in 1975.

Excavations discovered that the dolmen had been sacked, although they found many human bones believed to be offerings, a pendant made from a polished deers tooth and a magnificent example of an arrowhead in the shape of a laurel leaf which was common in Pyrenean culture. Another smaller dolmen was discovered 50m away.

At the Ibon de Piedrafita which is usually the first walk on our Lakes & Valleys walking holidays there are 8 tumulus or burial mounds signifying the presence of a highly evolved sedentary society in the region at about 3000BC – 2000BC.

Also in the area is a small ‘caseta carboneros’ or charcoal kiln - a small stone building used to make charcoal built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Wood was stacked into the building, the door blocked up and the wood left to burn for several days. Obviously the building couldn’t contain wooden beams or supports so the roof is constructed entirely in overlapping stones which look ridculously heavy.

Caseta carboneros - a charcoal kiln

Caseta carboneros - a charcoal kiln

It’s an interesting little area with the lovely ermita, 19th century fort and civil war defences. A few weeks ago we discovered a pillbox alongside the path which I must have walked past dozens of times. Anna noticed a ‘rock’ that looked more like a sandbag that had solidified, when we searched the undergrowth around we discovered the pillbox hidden away. You could get inside with a bit of clambering and you had a superb defensive position looking along the path towards the fort. Pretty sure this dates to the civil war or the period just after when Franco was building defences to prevent an allied invasion through France.

Pillbox hidden beside the path

Pillbox hidden beside the path

7 thoughts on “The Dolmen of Santa Elena”

  1. Nice to find your blog. We went to this dolmen today, and it is always amazing to think about those prehistoric humans who lives in the same valleys than us, but in a really different way. I took the same picture than the one you attached… today the mountains were paint in fall colours, nice too!

  2. I don’t think these are the original stones of the Sta Elena dolmen. Destroyed during the Civil War, a ‘reconstruction’ was attempted using other stones, after photographs and drawings from the 1930′s. The other nearby sacred monument is a Neolithic stone kist.

  3. Hi John,
    Thanks for reading our blog.
    I thought they had recovered the original stones but I’m not 100% certain – I’ll try and ask around the village and find out.
    Cheers,
    Phil

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