Tony Silvino (Éveha – UMR 5138, Archéologie et Archéométrie)
Pedro Pereira (CITCEM – Porto University)
How Eveha Participates
In 2014 the third season of excavations took place at Vale de Mir-Pegarinhos (Portugal), as part of the four-year project directed by Pedro Pereira and Tony Silvino. The two previous fieldwork seasons had revealed an ensemble of Classical remains located on a hillside below the walls of an Iron Age castro. These remains belong to two occupation phases, dated respectively to the Early Roman Empire and Late Antiquity. The first of these, located in a specific area of the site, comprises a large basin covered with tuileau mortar, whose function has not yet been determined (drinking trough, lavoir, simple reservoir?) and a series of walls. These walls, built from granite blocks and lime mortar, suggest the presence of a terrace and a building whose floor plan remains poorly understood. Artefacts found associated with these structures (pottery and glass) indicate that they were built during the 1st century AD. The second occupation phase is located mainly in the lower part of the site. It consists of a group of walls whose construction includes the reuse of stones, and which appear to form a small building. Coins and pottery found within these walls and around the structures suggest a 4th century or early 5th century date.
The aim of the 2014 excavations was to better understand the nature of the structures that had been previously uncovered, especially those associated with the first Roman-era settlement. Due to the considerable depth of sediment covering the structures, and the presence of terrace walls linked with recent agriculture, it was necessary to employ mechanical means to uncover the archaeological layers. By the end of four weeks of excavations, with a team of 10 people on average (predominantly Portuguese and Spanish students from Porto and Madrid), a rectangular building measuring 20 m x 8 m had been uncovered. Five spaces were identified within this structure. The first three, which are also rectangular, are in a row in the eastern part of the building. Although their floors were unfortunately not conserved, the layers of fill which were added to alter the level of these rooms contained abundant material. In addition, the remains of a threshold were identified in the most northerly room. On the west side of these rooms is a long space (14 m x 3 m) whose earthen floor has survived. The fifth room is located on the north side of the building, but is incomplete. Due to a lack of evidence relating to a possible use for this building, its function has not yet been determined. The layout, elongated and with the three rooms in a row, is not common on the Iberian peninsula. Could it have had a utilitarian function, a residential one, or both? It may have formed a series of private apartments which all opened onto one long room, but the absence of thresholds, except in one room, means that this is difficult to confirm. The layout also resembles that of barns commonly found in Gaul. Artefacts found associated with it indicate the working of textiles (spindle whorls, weights) and metals (slag, sharpeners, traces of ore). Other hypotheses can also be put forward, though the evidence is limited. The discovery of a probable spear butt (analysis pending, in collaboration with Michel Feugère) may suggest that soldiers were present in the area, who may even have stayed in the building. There is much evidence to show that detachments were present in this part of the Iberian peninsula, particularly during the 1st century AD. Their role was entirely peaceful: building roads and infrastructure, and especially controlling mining activities. However, in the absence of more concrete evidence, it is best to remain cautious about this hypothesis, without disregarding it altogether.
In any event, the construction of this building required considerable resources. To the south, it is associated with a large wall which was very likely a retaining wall for an esplanade. The remains of burnt beams found on the site, as well as evidence of rubefaction of the floors and of parts of the walls indicate that these structures were destroyed by a fire.
The remains of a second settlement were also identified to the west and east of this building. This appears to be a partial reoccupation of the site during the 4th century AD.