25 October 2010

The mystery of the Mesa de Esparragal

For years we've been meaning to visit one of the most celebrated historical sites around Alcalá, referred to in every guidebook and tourist information website about the town.   La Mesa de Esparragal (lit. Plateau of the asparagus beds) is the location of Lascuta, one of the first stable settlements in the area and famous for the Lascuta Bronze, one of the oldest Roman finds in Spain (189 BC), which was discovered here in 1867 and is now in the Louvre.

Engraved on the bronze is an edict granting freedom to slaves from the nearby city of Hasta:.  

Lucius Aemilius, son of Lucius, Imperato, decreed that the subjects which the Hastansians have in the Tower of Lascuta will be free. As to the land and fort which they owned at that time, they were to keep and have it, he ordered, as long as the People and Senate of Rome saw fit.

All that remains of the site is a tower and and some bits of a wall and paved Roman road (calzado). But being the perfect time of year for a nice country walk with a bit of history thrown in, we drove off last Saturday in search of the Turris Lascutana.

We sort of knew where it was - 10 km out of Alcalá on the way to San Jose del Valle (guess which song I couldn't get out of my head!) -  but we had no detailed instructions of how to get there.  There are no Ordnance Survey maps in Spain, and instructions on the various websites all said slightly different things.  Nevertheless, a stone tower on a hilltop can't be that hard to find, we thought.

An hour and a half later, after various U-turns and an abortive hike down an old drovers' trail ), we spotted something distinctly tower-like on a hill a couple of miles off the road.  But the only track that might possibly have led there was the entrance to a farm, with fences hung with  signs warning of Coto Privado (private hunting ground) and Ganado Bravo (fighting bulls and their equally belligerent mothers).  Not wanting to be shot or gored, we decided to call it a day. When we are feeling more energetic (and have acquired a GPS device) we might try this route, which includes the Castillo de Gigonza:


Jose A said...

Spain has an excellent cartography, both civil and military plus the usual professional and monographic apps. A good library in Seville, perhaps Cadiz, is a place to start. Sorry I cannot provide you with the whole catalogue links. You may begin by this one
Good luck.

Claire Lloyd said...

Thanks José! We were driving back from Paterna yesterday and were just saying that we must try again to find it soon.