Jorge Carlos Arias

Late Antique Castros and Their Spatial Milieu in Northwestern Iberia (pdf)

(*En Portugués aquí; En Español aquí; En français ici)


Castros, a term used in Iberia to describe presumably defensive settlements, a.k.a. hillforts, are most commonly associated with Bronze and Iron Age material cultures. However, since the 1970s, there has been a growing recognition of the various roles they continued to play after the Roman conquest, both as sites of continued, albeit changing, forms of habitation and, even when unoccupied, as important nodes in the mental landscapes of those who lived around them. In the late antique period, their supposed reuse has been generally viewed as a reflection of a violent environment, particularly thanks to a few terse passages in Hydatius’ Chronicle that mention defensive actions centered around “castellum.” In order to examine this hypothesis, this paper will look at a complete catalogue of castros with material evidence of use between the third and eighth centuries CE in the regions of Galicia, Asturias, León, Zamora and northern Portugal, the Iberian regions with the greatest concentrations of castros and where their study has been an especially salient theme in scholarship. In particular, this essay will focus on macro-level spatial relationships between late antique castros, communication routes, and surrounding archaeological sites from the Roman, late antique and early medieval periods (roughly the first to tenth centuries CE) to analyze how castros fit into the late antique environment.

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