The church of Santa Elena, near Biescas, has since last Monday a new attraction, a newly discovered Neolithic dolmen, located just 50 meters from the existing one. Both date from about 5,000 years ago. Until Monday only one was known, and the other, although there was evidence that it had existed, had been given up for lost.
The discovery of the dolmen has a long history, and although on Monday morning, when the digger began to remove the pile of rubble that existed on the megalithic monument, there was some scepticism that they would find it, that turned to joy as they uncovered the dolmen. The last reference to the dolmen was 85 years ago so you can imagine the delight when it was rediscovered.
In 1933, in the Santa Elena area, two dolmens were found, excavated by Joaquín Almagro and Dr. Herráinz, a doctor from Biescas. But, after the Spanish civil war (1936-39) they were lost. In 1975 the City Council of Biescas reconstructed one (the top stone had been removed), the one that was known until now – you’ll visit it in your first day on our Village to Village holiday.
When the Zoque de Santa Engracia (a chapel) was rebuilt, which is next to the existing dolmen, “the elderly people of Biescas came to rebuild it as it used to be, and one of them, said that the second dolmen was behind the zoque”.
Early Monday, the digger began to remove the rubble, stones and earth where the megalithic monument was supposed to lie, and then it has appeared as it was in 1933. In fact, a piece of stone protruded out of the ground, but until Monday, no-one realised it was part of the sought after dolmen. The working party – led by our good friend Jose Miguel, workers of the Biescas town hall and an archaeologist of the Government of Aragon – were over the moon to find the long-lost dolmen.
The Santa Elena area has always been full of history with not only the dolmen but also the fascinating church (with a hidden door in the altar leading to a cave behind), the Napoleonic era fort and Franco’s ‘Linea P’ defences. Since Monday it now has a new attraction. With the existence of two dolmens it is deduced that here or close by, there lived one of the first sedentary populations that settled in that valley – Dolmens were their burial monuments. Excavations on the original dolmen discovered that it had been sacked, although they found many human bones believed to be offerings, a pendant made from a polished deer’s tooth and a magnificent example of an arrowhead in the shape of a laurel leaf which was common in Pyrenean culture.