It was mid morning when we arrived the sun was shining and it was waaaarm, a coach load of oldies were coming out so we hung on a bit, paid the bloke in the shed and walked on in.
First we pass the still tall talaiot but then the path takes you away and straight to the taula sanctuary, i got the same feeling of awe here as I did at Stonehenge. The taula is I think the tallest on Menorca and an incredible monument on its own never mind the megalithic wonderland all around. There are niches all around the wall and the whole place is built in solid bedrock, the taula is in a rock cut pit which must of been a right pain to cut out. some of the menhirs in the wall are concreted in, but it doesn't matter at all, this place is magic and I could stay here forever.
But just past the threshing floor and well are two strange caves the entrance to cave one is carved but straight through and to your left is another deeper cave, Cave two has a stone basin inside towards the back, and must go right under cave one if not then they're only a few feet away.
The path then takes you past the original megalithic wall that surrounds the whole place, then its on to another cave, this one I think wholly man made, pillars hold up big stones which hold up bigger stones, the whole place looks very likely to fall in at any moment.
I cant imagine why this place and the other taula sanctuaries aren't more famous, this was my first and it really blew me away.
The lane between Alaoir and Cala'n Porter where we were staying was a tortuous one we had to travel many, many times... There're some great sites down here though. Torralba d'en Salort (see pages 316 to 318 of TME) lay at the top of this lane and having seen the top of the taula sticking up already I was itching to see the place.
All the regular poblat features here: caves, talaiot, cisterns, houses and also a wonderful quarry area.
The place was crawling with caterpillars though so I had to move with extreme caution. Cleo and Rupes liked this one as there were tons to explore and had informative signs to help them understand what they were seeing. As ever, the main attraction for me was the taula itself.
To aid stability, this taula has a ridge carved up the back and is thicker than Trepuco's wafer thin cheese slice. I chose a caterpillar-free area to sit in and made a sketch.
Es Fus de sa Geganta (the giantess's spindle), Torralba d'en Salort, district of Alayor: a conspicuous standing stone in the midst of the talayotic settlement of Torralba d'en Salort.
The tradition is that at midnight the Ginatess from the talayotic well of Na Patarra nearby carries on her head a trough of water for sacrifice at the Taula (table shaped stone monument) among this group of monuments. After making the sacrifice she returns to the depths of the well. The giantess is the guardian of the monuments here, and after the sacrifice she makes rope with her spindle.
The well, dating almost certainly from the talayotic period, is among the most spectacular ancient structures in Menorca. The mouth is 7.50m by 5.00m; the depth 45.80m; and there are 199 rock-hewn steps in eight flights, with banisters 0.5m broad. It is not surprising that it has attracted folklore. Its construction was attributed to giants as early as the late 16th century.
The traditions connected with it are the subject of the poem 'Na Patarra: Tradicio Menorquina,' by Angel Ruiz y Pablo ([extract of] translation by Dr. Antoni Turull):
It is said there was an immense cave
Hewn from the living rock
By the hand of the heathen
Inhabitants of these islands ...
Hallowed by time the cave
As was the falling water;
Hands of priests hewed
The cavern in the living rock;
And the tradition tells
That a giantess
At midnight would carry out
The basin on her head
And in the light of the white moon
The friend of our ancestors
Would wash the living blood
From the sacrificial altar.
The sacred dolmen watched over
The virgin priestess
And at daybreak
She would return the basin to the cave
And in the sacred solitude
Of that heathen cavern,
The purified water
Issued forth night and day.
The Popular Names and Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Menorca
L. V. Grinsell
Folklore, Vol. 95, No. 1 (1984), pp. 90-99.