Saturday, December 27, 2014

A walk through time: on the edge of Ribadesella town

We frequently walk around Ribadesella and never tire of the narrow, quiet streets and interesting buildings even though it is a very small town. It doesn't take much to see how the town has developed over the years and how the once, small cluster of sea-front fishermen and merchant houses has expanded as more land has been reclaimed from the sea and the estuary. The town has ancient roots and has been a settlement of sorts for at least the past 35,000 years, possibly much longer.

One walk we regularly take is on the edge of town along a narrow road that leads up to La Guia: a once important defensive position where cannon were  positioned ready to repel any unfriendly visitors. There is a small church and fortress dating back to the 1700s  that was built to provide spiritual and physical protection to the defenders. Today, the small chapel and remnants of defences remain. The chapel is now dedicated to Our Lady of La Guia, the patron Saint of fishermen and houses a small but wonderful collection of models of sea-going vessels.

Sociedad Etnográfica de Ribadesella SER

The vantage point of La Guia enables you to see the mouth of the River Sella as it winds its way through the lush landscape down to the estuary and into the Bay of Biscay. From here you can see the grand Indianos-style houses that were built on re-claimed land that borders the Santa Marina beach. The houses date mainly from the early 20th century when rich emigrant traders returned from the South Americas and built grand houses and estates. Many are now hotels but a few remain private residences.

Looking further up the Estuary there is a large expanse of rock which houses probably one of Ribadesella's greatest treasures: the caves of Tito Bustillo. Discovered in the 1960s, the network of caves and paleolithic cave art dates back at least 29,000 years. It is easy to imagine how small groups of humans occupied this estuary, with the caves offering protection and the sea and the rich flood plains offering up food in abundance. As an aside, in the next village to us about 5km from Ribadesella, they have recently discovered a bone pit containing fine examples of Woolly Rhinoceros, Hyena, Deer and Bison. The pit has undergone preliminary investigation and has now been sealed until finances can be secured to undertake a full archaeological investigation.

At the far end of Santa Marina beach along the promenade, there are some fine examples of dinosaur footprints in the sedimentary rocks that have been displaced by time and seismic land movement. Over 100 million years have passed since a small family group of dinosaurs passed over mud flats and left impressions for time to seal and eventually reveal.

 I often wonder what else lies undiscovered?

Scanning the landscape and pondering times gone by makes me wonder what footprints we might leave and how the archaeologists of future times might interpret our impact, presence our legacy.


  1. Thank you so much for these posts sharing the beauty of your area. They´re all lovely. A happy and healthy 2015 to you!!

    1. Thanks Coco, I hope the move works out for you both, I am sure it will. Here's looking forward to a great 2015 for us all.

  2. That cave painting is amazing, were there any details about it, it looks as though it might be a painting of a Przewalski horse. Many thanks for sharing.

    1. This is only one of several drawings in the cave network Anne - they restrict numbers these days. Not sure they know much more than what is seen, speculation if rife of course. Worth a visit if anyone in in the area.


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