Archaeological remains from the early medieval period

Next to the church of the Immaculate Conception, during the remodelling of the car park in 2008, archaeological remains from the early medieval period were found, which are of great interest in Bizkaia. For this reason, an archaeological intervention was carried out, which documented the uninterrupted occupation from the 7th to the 18th century.

¿What was found?

This research revealed, among other things, a necropolis with several overlapping chronological phases and burials of different types. These burials are divided into phases:

  • Phase 6. 10th-11th century, cemetery-type burials in pits dug into the rock.
  • Phase 5. Between the 11th and 12th centuries. Carved pit graves and slab graves. From this period are the remains of what seems to have been a small church or temple, but the data are very scarce and do not allow us to know much.
  • Phase 4. Associated with a horizontal bell-oven structure from the 14th century.
  • Phase 3. Covers the 15th and 16th centuries. From this same period are an ossuary (a pit with bones from previous burials) and the structure of a vertical bell furnace.
  • Phases 1 and 2. These phases are associated with a wall that enclosed the necropolis (enclosure).

Under all these layers of the necropolis, an area of high medieval habitat from between the 7th and 9th centuries was also found. Part of the remains of the habitat were destroyed by the necropolis levels. The location of the necropolis is not known from this period, with the exception of a child burial inside a dwelling (a common practice in different periods). Like the necropolis, the habitat area is divided into phases:

  • VII (although it could be older). Five structures made of ephemeral materials and rectangular in plan (approx. 20 m²) were documented. Post-holes, with stone slabs at the base to support them.
  • 7th/18th century. Intermediate phase. Square hut post-holes, larger than the earliest phase (approx. 36 sq m). They are central cores with annexed spaces such as corrals etc. In two of them, interior pavement levels of horizontally laid stone slabs were found. A large quantity of ceramic material was also found.
  • 8th-10th centuries. The most modern. Square-shaped houses and a passageway or street, cut off by burial phase 6. In terms of material culture, it is very rich, and is characterised by geometric decoration painted in red-garnet.

¿Why is it interesting at Bizkaia level?

For two reasons:

  • Because of the magnitude of the documented sequence (between the 18th and 10th centuries).
  • Because it is one of the few settlements of this type on the Cantabrian coast. The enclosure of the necropolis of phases 1 and 2 is one of the few documented in Bizkaia.

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