Leaving the past in Vilalba means making a journey through time to the Prehistoric age, and there are still plenty of remains in the area. Places like Pena Grande or Carrizo, both of which can be found in the parish of Santaballa, are examples of shelters of small groups of humans dating back to the time of the Altamira cave, and from these they were able to follow the movements of animals in search of pastures or water.
Towards the end of the Neolithic age there were more than 220 megalithic tombs in the region of Vilalba. These were the funeral monuments of the first farmers to pay respects in the burial of the dead. An example can be found in the parish of San Juan de Alba in the “Roza das Modias”, which is the most important prehistoric engraving in the northwest of the peninsula and consists of undulating patterns. In Muíño Pequeno, located close to a farmhouse, a burial mound is clearly visible in the middle of fields to the left and can be easily identified because of the tree on top of it. From this point you can also see another six monuments which make up the complete necropolis
A Pedrachantada, in Santaballa, is another point of interest on the megalithic trail of the municipality. It is a menhir located in the middle of a necropolis comprising more than twenty tombs. Its function has been linked to the cult of stone crosses and roads, and for this reason some authors consider it to be evidence of the ancient ancestors of the crossroads.
Without having to leave the parish you can also see Medoña del Estelo, a burial mound containing a megalithic chamber of large quartzite blocks. It forms part of the most extensive necropolis running alongside the Camino Real (Royal Way) towards Viveiro.
The “castros” (Celtic hill-forts)
These fort settlements have a strong presence in the municipality. They were iron-age villages, some of which were romanised.
Castro de Nete: located at Castro and set on a mound. The fortress has three walls, although the only remaining is the north-facing wall.
Castro de Belesar: it is positioned on an earth mound and has a double defensive wall. It is also known as “Santa Catarina” as the chapel was built in dedication to this saint, although only one wall remains.
Castro da Torre (or San Nicolás): Castro de San Nicolás is situated next to the parish church and owes its name to the chapel built in the vicinity of the site. The hermitage was built on a four metre rock, so there are steps accessing it. The castro has a circular layout, is located on a hill and has just one defensive wall.
Castro de Vixil (Boizán): The site is positioned at Alto de Vixil, offering the visitor beautiful views of the capital town. Dating back to pre-roman times, it only has one defensive wall but the remains of dwellings, chimneys and ovens are still well preserved.
Castro de Gondaísque (Castro Grande): located on an irregular plain, this is a site which has a main circular enclosure with several moats and parapets, and a double defensive wall. There are also remains of a large antefort and a Roman hamlet beside it (Vilar de Eimil).
Castro of Gondaísque
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