Many pilgrims decide to start a new Camino in Santiago de Compostela. This is a nice option to finish your adventure if you are still willing to or you have enough time to do it. It is the Camino Santiago–Finisterre.
If you make up your mind to walk this Camino toward Costa da Morte and you are also interested in megalithic monuments, then this will become your dreamy adventure. Maybe you will sometimes have to divert your established route but it will be worthwhile.
The number of megalithic sites to be found in the area indicates that the Costa da Morte, which Finisterre belongs to, was inhabited in the Stone Age. Indeed, it boasts the largest number of burial mounds (known here in Galicia as “mámoas”), more than 300 constructions and some of the region´s most important examples of dolmens. The term megalithism refers essentially to the construction of enormous burial monuments made up of a structure of large stones. There is a range of different types of megalithic constructions: circles of standing stones, also known as cromlechs, menhirs or upright stones (Vilariño- Laracha) and burial mounds. The examples of megalithism to be seen on the Costa da Morte date back to between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, and form part of a phenomenon that extended throughout Western Europe.
The most common monuments on A Costa da Morte are the burial chambers: mounds (mámoas) and dolmens (antas).
- The burial mounds or mámoas contain a dolmen or chamber inside. The mound or mámoa is covered by a layer of earth and large circular or oval-shaped stones. In addition to being used to bury the dead, it would appear that they were also used as a means of marking out territorial borders. It is curious that all we know of the builders of these megaliths comes from these large monuments they left behind; we know nothing of their daily lives or dwelling places, and must therefore assume that they lived in caves or open-air shelters. It is often said that we know about their deaths but nothing of their lives.
- Dolmens or antas are the most commonly-found type of megalithic monument on the Costa da Morte. They are tombs made up of a main chamber and occasionally a corridor, made from several stones and covered by a larger capstone. Inside the chamber it is common to find symbolic drawings. They were originally covered with earth, forming a mound. They are circular or oval in shape, forming gentle mounds in the landscape, and on open land are visible from considerable distances.
The deceased person was buried with a range of utensils and tools, adornments, idols and weapons, although most of these items disappeared over the centuries due to looting and plundering.
Which megalithic constructions can we visit on A Costa da Morte or in Galicia?
A Costa da Morte is a kind of Megalithic theme park, with constructions dating from this period scattered throughout the area, from Laracha to Muros.
- The Dolmen of Dombate (Cabana de Bergantiños). It is also here that we find the so-called ‘Cathedral of Mega-lithism’).
- A Eira das Meigas. A Terra de Soneira and particularly the borough of Vimianzo boast numerous examples of these monuments. Visitors to Vimianzo can follow a megalithic trail, visiting more than 7 sites. As for the circles of stones or cromlechs, the only one that remains in existence stands on Mount Neme in Carballo. It is known as Eira das Meigas, as local tradition associated it with the meetings held by these witches or meigas during the summer solstice. The situation is similar in the case of the menhirs or upright stone We know that up until a short time ago one existed in Vilariño in Laracha.
Unfortunately, many of these monuments were destroyed: occasionally due to looting by thieves in search of treasures; or by farming activities; or sometimes by locals who used
the stones to build other types of constructions .Indeed, it is known that in the 17 century, the authorities permitted the plundering of more than 3,000 tombs.
- Castros. Castros are fortified settlements which belonged to the Iron Age. Popular tradition associates these monuments with a series of legends that tell of vast treasures hoarded by the fantastic beings known as “moros” and “moras”. Characters that built and inhabited the mounds and fortified settlements… dwelling underground, these fairy folk lived out a kind of parallel existence with their human counterparts, with whom they also had contact, albeit subject to a series of conditions that would always include some kind of test or challenge. There are not remains of Castros on A Costa da Morte itself but there are some outstanding Castros nearby: the most visited is Catro de Santa Tecla ( in a Garda–Pontevedra), Castro Baroña in Porto do Son, Castro de Valdomiño in Ferrol or Castro Fazouzo in Foz and Burela.
- Also worthy of mention is the wealth of cave drawings and carvings –petroglyphs – to be found throughout the area. Fine examples are to be found in Ponteceso (Corme–Roncudo), Carnota (Descansadoiro and Mount Pindo), Muros (Serres), Dumbría (Piedra Ancha, in Buxantes). A magnificent opportunity to discover these fascinating constructions and to delve even deeper into the magical and legendary world of the Costa da Morte.
However, the cult to stone on the Costa da Morte goes beyond megalithic architecture. Indeed, here we can still see the remains of ancient pagan cultures that existed before the arrival of Christianity. The inhabitants of these lands worshipped nature and stone. In Corme (Ponteceso) we can still see clear examples of how Christianity tried to eradicate these pagan traditions. A stone, carved in the shape of a serpent was Christianised by the addition of a stone cross. Yet the clearest examples are to be found in the Sanctuary of Muxía – with the Abalar and Cadrís stones. These stones were almost certainly the object of worship prior to the arrival of Christianity, but they were later used to glorify the miraculous powers of the Virgin of A Barca, adding to the religious mythology surrounding the appearance of the Virgin before the Apostle St James on a boat – the Alabar Stone, and whose rudder is the Cadrís stone. This belief has placed Muxía firmly on the map of the final stage of the Camino de Santiago. The Cama do Santo or Saint’s Bed, close to the Shrine of San Guillerme (Fisterra) is a place of pilgrimage for those unable to have children, as the stone is claimed to have all types powers related questions of fertility. The aptly-named and pointed Pedra do Cú (bottom stone) in Carballo is said to cure the haemorrhoids of all those who rest their behind on it. The rocky landscapes of sites such as Mount Pindo, Cadro Moors and Traba and Pasarela, to name just a few of the best-known, form an enchanted, magical and mysterious backdrop to all types of tales and beliefs.
For this is a land where magic takes on a special meaning. Here, everything is deeply rooted in the mists of time and nothing is quite what it seems.
Buen Camino, amigos!