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Navetas and poblats

31 May

Torrellonet (see page 322 of TME) is one of many talaiot towers on Menorca. They occupy positions of height or view and almost everywhere you look on Menorca, you can see one of these on the horizon. Torrellonet is a really nice example of a talaiot as it is still tall with intact walls, is uncovered by vegetation, is easy to climb and has great views of the runway.

From here we could see Talati de Dalt talaiot and others rising through the trees as well as the remains of a prehistoric house two field away.

The lane between Alaoir and Cala'n Porter where we were staying was a tortuous one we had to travel many, many times... 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 study.

It was time to tackle some navetas. Structures less like boats, after which they are named, I cannot imagine. 'Pyramids' is what Rupert called them. I like that because they are burial chambers, stand above ground level, slope inwards like pyramids and are made of large dressed blocks.

There are four close together just off the main road, all signposted and dead easy to find. (see page 307, 308 and 309 of TME).

Naveta de Biniac Argentina Occidental and Naveta de Biniac Argentina Oriental are a bit trashed, the roof of Occidental's has gone and its chamber is open.

They are both round. Have you ever seen a round boat? Nope. Me neither. All these navetas had beautiful carved 'porthole' doors in their entrance stones which Naveta d'es Tudons didn't.

We later saw this holed stone doorway effect again at a much earlier monument, a dolmen called Ses Roques Lisses, but more of that in a later weblog.

There are two navetas at Rafal Rubi.

Both are in magnificent condition and have huge cool chambers with whopping great slabs in the ceiling.

Very close to our villa is the poblat of So Na Caçana. It is, in fact, what Julian incorrectly calls Torre Llisa Vell (see next weblog). So go to pages 320 and 321 in your copy of TME and cross out the title and replace with So Na Caçana. Here, beneath the gargantuan talaiot lie not one but two taula sanctuaries.

Sadly both Ts are wrecked but there is still plenty to admire: the tall pillars surrounding the sacred spaces and the niches in the walls. I wondered what magical objects were once placed in these – skulls or horns, jars of oil or bull's blood, perhaps?

1 June

Binisafullet is a poblat just at the south of the runway at a road junction. It had a pocket-sized taula which was still up and probably restored because the rest of the site was a jumble of stones.

Moth really liked this one, but apart from the taula, which I loved, of course, it left me thinking Rupert's thoughts: 'it's just another pile of big old rocks, innit?'

We could see Torre d'en Gaumes from the front porch of our villa, its three talaiot towers rising up on the horizon just about 2kms away. However, such is the state of Menorcan roads we had to drive miles to get to it. This is government operated site and has had money put in to it – areas roped off, nice concrete paths, wooden walkways, even toilets. This is a rare one for which you pay an entry fee. However, the young woman working in the ticket collection booth was very helpful and gave me a poster (featuring taulas, of course) which I admired on the wall for free. This woman, who had an unpronounceable name, would later help us find two amazing monuments within 500ms of Gaumes.

Gaumes is a very complex monument which we didn't have time enough to unravel. It comprises all the usual features and them some more. Although it didn't have an intact taula to thrill me, it did have one or two other features which blew me away.

The first was to do with the taula. The capstone has at some point in antiquity been removed and inverted.

The carved socket which the upright once slotted into now lies skywards like a watertrough or font.

The second was a fabulous system of water storage cisterns, great holes cut into the rock.

On such a dry island, fresh water must have been a premium commodity and the inhabitants at Gaumes collected and stored their water with particular flair. There were six or more tanks.

Thirdly, in one of the houses the roof structure was up.

A roughly round space had a pillar in the middle from which long flat stones balanced and radiated out to the pillars in the walls like the spokes of a wheel.

Fourthly, a few intact 'doorframes', one of which is pictured here. Moth says that for him, it somehow makes the houses much more real!

Finally, the views, the views! Cor! From up here you can see perhaps half of the southern part of the island.

More Menorcan magic here...

Jane Posted by Jane
8th June 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce

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