6. Settlement Analyses

6.1 Introduction

Within the region of the survey, the preservation of archaeological sites is generally poor. The only visible features are the physical remains of the earthworks on some hilltop castro sites or traces of tile, pottery or building materials exposed through periodic ploughing. One objective of the survey was to identify significant distributions of such surface archaeological material in order to identify potential settlements. Once potentially significant concentrations had been identified, using the methods described in 5.2, analysis centred on visual and quantitative classification of their distribution. These studies form the subject of this section.

6.2 Sites identified

On maps of the two transects walked, areas of high artefact density were circled following the procedures discussed in section 5.2. Descriptions of these sites will be presented in order for each transect, identifying the broad chronological phases of occupation on the basis of the ceramics recovered. Overall maps of ceramic density are presented as a background to each of the sites identified (see New Sites database). In addition to the locations recorded as sites on the basis of the peaks in ceramic density, further locations were noted as potential sites as their ceramic densities reached the lower half of the top percentile range (see 5.2.4).

map of new sites

Map 2: Map of newly identified sites derived from ceramic densities (click to view entries in database)
Red square=castro, purple circle=likely Iron Age site, blue circle=likely Roman site, pink circle=potential site

6.2.1 Transect 1

This transect encompassed a low-lying stretch of land running north to south along the coastal plain, cut by the Cávado and Ave river valleys. The altitude ranges between 5m and 170m above sea level, with the topography comprising low fluvial terraces, interspersed with low hills on bands of micaceous granite. The density of material across the transect was generally lower than for Transect 2. However, a number of high density concentrations were identified as likely site locations (sites 1/1 - 1/11), and other areas were noted as potential sites (sites 1/12 - 1/17):

Site 1/1There was quite an extensive concentration of Roman tile to the east of Castro Outeiro dos Picotos. Whilst the amount of tile suggests activity during the Roman phase, no discernible Iron Age or Roman pottery was found in the area. This is most probably an indication of extensive damage to the area around Outeiro dos Picotos through ploughing and terracing. A series of geophysical surveys were carried out in this area, at fields 628, 629-631 and 855 (see 6.3).
Site 1/2This comprised an extensive concentration of Roman ceramics. No Iron Age fabrics were found. Collected material included a fragment of dolium in fabric 102, a coarse oxidised ware associated with local pottery production from the Flavian period onwards.
Site 1/3A relatively compact concentration of material, comprising high densities of Iron Age fabrics (predominantly fabrics 101 and 104, both micaceous fabrics of the 'castro tradition' of northern Portugal). Significant quantities of Roman ceramics were located, dominated by occurrences of fabric 108, a coarse oxidised ware similar to fabric 102.
Site 1/4A small concentration of Iron Age and Roman fabrics; also significant densities of Roman tile. Most significant were concentrations of fabric 303, a pale brown or buff fabric equivalent to one of the Braga fabrics.
Site 1/5An extensive high density concentration, showing evidence for Iron Age and Roman activity. Fabric 103 gives an indication of Iron Age occupation; the fabric is an unoxidised ware, possibly a precursor to fabric 307. Quantities of fabric 108 were also located. Geophysical survey was undertaken in field 761, within this concentration of material (see 6.3).
Site 1/6A discrete concentration of Roman tile located downslope from sites 1/4, 1/ and 1/7, devoid of any Iron Age and Roman pottery fabrics.
Site 1/7Concentration of Roman pottery situated downslope from site 1/5. Overall, the location of Roman ceramics downslope from densities of Iron Age material suggests a movement of settlement activity from hilltops and higher ridges or valley slopes down to the lower valley terraces. The prominent fabrics were 303, a buff fabric, and 305, a Late Roman African Red-slipped ware.
Site 1/8A broad and dense distribution of ceramics, suggesting activity throughout the Iron Age and Roman phases. Concentration dominated by quantities of fabric 307, a light red fabric, possibly a variant of fabric 308.
Site 1/9This comprised a discrete, high density area of Roman fabrics and tile. Similar to 1/6, with a lack of any Iron Age fabrics. Ceramics dominated by quantities of fabrics 303 and 305.
Site 1/10Concentration of ceramic material in an area which, because of the constraints imposed by topography and the types of cultivation, could not be fully explored. The emphasis of the fabrics is on Roman pottery and tile; however, significant quantities of Iron Age material were also located. Fabrics 303 and 305 predominate.
Site 1/11Major concentration of material to the west of site 1/10, containing fabrics from the Iron Age and Roman phases. These suggest continuity of activity in the area. Fabrics 303, 305, 327 and 701 were all present. Fabric 327 represents a fine red ware similar to 305, and fabric 701 is a Baetican amphora fabric.
Site 1/12Lesser concentration of Roman pottery and tile, comprising fabrics 303, 1004 and 1008. The tile fabrics included identifiable Roman tegulae and imbrices.
Site 1/13This consists of a small, low density concentration of Roman pottery, fabric 303. No Roman tile or Iron Age material was present.
Site 1/14This was a small concentration of Roman tile fabrics 1004 and 1009.
Site 1/15Small concentration of Roman pottery, fabric 327, but no Roman tile or Iron Age material was present.
Site 1/16Concentration of Iron Age and Roman pottery, comprising fabrics 103, 102 and 303.
Site 1/17Concentration of small quantities of ceramics, Iron Age and Roman, comprising fabrics 103, 102, 303 and 1005.

6.2.2 Transect 2

This transect runs north to south across the inland area of the region, and is cut by the Cávado, Ave and Este river valleys. The transect is slightly shorter than its coastal counterpart: the area that could be walked was truncated by the course of the river Ave. The height of the land across the transect ranges between 15m and 300m above sea level. Overall a higher density of ceramic material was recovered from this transect than from that nearer the coast. This makes the identification of significant densities slightly more difficult and suggests a more complicated relationship between different phases of activity and settlement in the hillside regions between the Ave and Cávado. The following were identified as likely settlements (sites 2/1 - 2/23) and potential sites (sites 2/24 - 2/31):

Site 2/1An extensive concentration of tile on the end of a ridge overlooking the river Cávado. Significant densities of Iron Age fabrics were also located, with some Roman material present. Predominantly, fabrics were 108 and 303.
Site 2/2 This comprised an extensive area with high densities of ceramic material for both the Iron Age and Roman phases (Field 518). Located on the same ridge as site 2/1, but at a higher altitude and further south. Most of the Iron Age pottery was of fabric 101, whereas Roman ceramics are represented by fabrics 102 and 303. A geophysical survey was undertaken on part of this site, in field 516 (see 6.3).
Site 2/3 Small, compact concentration of Roman ceramics, situated on a low valley slope to the south of the Cávado. No Iron Age ceramics were found.
Site 2/4 Widespread concentration of Iron Age pottery, with evidence of probable Roman activity suggested by lower densities of pottery and tile. Fabric 104 was present amongst Iron Age material, and fabrics 102 and 303 occur from the Roman phase.
Site 2/5 Small, high density concentration of Roman pottery, located on the valley side below site 2/4. Also some Roman tile fabrics were present. No evidence of Iron Age pottery fabrics was found. Large quantities of fabric 303 were present.
Site 2/6 Discrete, high density concentration of ceramic material on a west-facing valley slope, suggesting continuity in activity from the Iron Age to Roman phases. Fabrics 101, 303 and 305 predominate in the collected assemblage.
Site 2/7 Widespread concentration of Iron Age and Roman pottery, also Roman tile fabrics, found on the north-east facing hillside below Castro Santa Eulalia. Iron Age fabrics are represented by 101 and 104; quantities of fabric 303 were also present.
Site 2/8 Discrete concentration of Roman pottery, with some Roman tile fabrics, situated below site 2/7. Iron Age material was collected. The Roman pottery was dominated by fabric 303.
Site 2/9 Extensive concentrations of Roman pottery and tile further downslope from site 2/7. The lack of any Iron Age material may suggest relocation of settlement activity downslope from site 2/7. Fabric densities, as with site 2/8, dominated by 303.
Site 2/10 High concentration of Iron Age and Roman ceramics over a wide area, located high on a south-west facing valley side, to the west of site 2/11. Roman material represented by fabrics 102, 303 and 327.
Site 2/11 This was a concentration of Iron Age and Roman ceramic material. Dolia in fabrics 102 and 108 were collected.
Site 2/12 High density concentration of Roman ceramics, with an absence of any Iron Age fabrics, located downslope from sites 2/10 and 2/11. Again the distribution suggests a pattern of relocation of activity to the lower slopes of the river valleys.
Site 2/13 Small concentration of ceramics found on low valley slope to the north-west of Castro Monte da Saia. Low, but still significant densities of Iron Age pottery, and larger quantities of Roman pottery and tile, in particular fabrics 303 and 305.
Site 2/14 Extensive concentration of Roman pottery to the east of site 2/13, with quantities of fabrics 303, 305, 315 and 327 collected from the area.
Site 2/15 Concentration of Roman tile found on the north-west slope of the hillside below Castro Monte da Saia (Field 359). Small densities of Iron Age and Roman pottery material were also collected.
Site 2/16 Discrete, small concentration of purely Roman pottery located to the west of site 2/17, below Monte da Saia, on the south-facing valley side. Iron Age pottery and Roman tile fabrics were absent. Quantities of fabrics 303 and 305 were represented Roman phase material.
Site 2/17 A small concentration of Iron Age pottery, also Roman pottery and tile fabrics, below Monte da Saia (Field 286). Fabrics 101, 103 and 303 present. A geophysical survey was carried out in field 289 (see 6.3).
Site 2/18 A discrete concentration of Roman pottery found immediately south of Monte da Saia. Iron Age and tile fabrics were absent. Again, Roman phase ceramics were represented by fabrics 303 and 305.
Site 2/19 This was a small concentration of Iron Age pottery, matched by densities of Roman pottery. The densities discovered tail off downslope from the main concentration. Fabrics predominantly comprised 101, 303 and 305.
Site 2/20 This was another dispersed concentration of Roman ceramics. Iron Age material was absent. Roman ceramics comprised fabrics 303, 305, 315 and 327.
Site 2/21 Dispersed concentration of Roman pottery, located in the Este valley. No Iron Age pottery was present, but low densities of Roman tile were found. The pottery was mainly made up of fabrics 303 and 305.
Site 2/22 This was a very widespread concentration of Roman pottery and tile, with evidence of some Iron Age fabrics in lesser quantities. It was located across the river Este from Castro Penices, on the lower valley terraces. A geophysical survey was undertaken in fields 155 and 156 over the principal concentration of ceramic material (see 6.3).
Site 2/23 Widespread concentration of Iron Age and Roman ceramics found to the east of Penices, overlooking the river Este, at a similar altitude to the Castro. Iron Age phase fabrics comprised 101, 103 and 104. Roman fabrics found included quantities of 303, 305 and 102.
Site 2/24 This was a small concentration of Iron Age material, fabric 104.
Site 2/25 This comprised a lesser concentration of Iron Age pottery and Roman tile (Fabrics 103, 1004, 1011 and 1020).
Site 2/26 Small quantities of Roman pottery, comprising fabrics 303 and 305 made up this assemblage.
Site 2/27 This was a small concentration of Iron Age pottery and tile material, of fabrics 101, 105, 1012 and 1013. Geophysical survey was carried out over this concentration of material, in field 254 (see 6.3).
Site 2/28 This was another small concentration of Iron Age pottery and Roman tile, fabrics 101 and 1010.
Site 2/29 This comprised a very small quantity of Iron Age pottery, fabric 103.
Site 2/30 Small amount of Roman ceramic material, comprising fabrics 303 and 1004.
Site 2/31 Concentration of ceramics, mainly Roman tile, comprising fabrics 101, 104, 1002, 1003, 1005, 1010 and 1013. Geophysical survey was undertaken in fields 32 and 45 (see 6.3).

By visually examining these likely and probable sites, the location of the centre point of each was established by identifying the field with the highest ceramic density in each cultural phase. The identification of these centre points was necessary to allow the following spatial analyses to be undertaken.

6.2.3 Medieval fabrics

The overall distribution of high densities of medieval fabrics revealed a number of trends. In general, these fabrics were more widespread than those of Iron Age and Roman date, but each concentration was in itself usually compact and restricted in extent. Another contrast was that the lower densities of ceramics which surrounded many concentrations of Roman pottery and tile were absent, and concentrations of medieval material were often surrounded by fields devoid of similar fabrics. Although some high densities of medieval materials coincide with the concentrations of earlier finds, this is not always the case. Elsewhere, although the medieval fabric densities occur in the same general areas as earlier material, they are found in different fields, slightly removed in location. There are also examples where medieval ceramics were found in completely new areas away from the concentrations of earlier material.

As the medieval material is generally considerably later in date than the Roman, no attempt has been made here to undertake any detailed analysis of these patterns. However, the information is in the database and is therefore available for readers to examine if they so wish.

6.2.4 Fabrics of uncertain date

Comparisons between the distributions of fabrics of known date and those noted in Section 5 as 'Possibly prehistoric', 'Possibly Roman' etc. showed some correlation between the locations of the high density concentrations of known date. Densities of 'Roman and/or later' material, in particular, tended to correspond with the Roman ceramic densities.

Examination of the distribution of fabric 308 in the GIS showed a strong correlation with concentrations of Roman pottery and tile. The more dispersed distribution of this fabric also occasionally matched the distribution of medieval fabrics. The close correlation between these densities appears to support the 'Roman and/or later' date suggested for this fabric, a light red wheel-made ware.


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Last updated: Sat Dec 30 2000