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Bertan > Bertan 20 Burdin aroko herri harresituak Gipuzkoan > Ingeles bertsioa: Homes

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Homes

79. Reconstruction of Dwelling No. 1 at Intxur, using information from the archaeological dig.© Fernando Hierro
79. Reconstruction of Dwelling No. 1 at Intxur, using information from the archaeological dig.© Fernando Hierro

Remains of dwellings have been found in many protohistoric settlements in Europe, though building materials and techniques, shapes, dimensions and internal structures vary greatly. Nonetheless, given the rural nature of this society, these sites also have many features in common: the architecture is directly related to the needs and lifestyle of the livestock and crop farmers who inhabited them.



80. Recreation of the interior of Dwelling No. 1 at Intxur, as the archaeological research shows. © J. Ignacio Treku (Kaioa)
80. Recreation of the interior of Dwelling No. 1 at Intxur, as the archaeological research shows. © J. Ignacio Treku (Kaioa)

Excavations in Gipuzkoa have revealed houses of over sixty square metres in size, with a considerable level of comfort, which would have been inhabited by more or less extended family groups. They contain a range of basic everyday tools and utensils and have small larders. There would also have been other buildings for storing surplus crops and other tasks.

81. Charred beech wood with nail hole from the Intxur settlement.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
81. Charred beech wood with nail hole from the Intxur settlement.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa

Excavations at Intxur have given us the most precise picture of the characteristics of these dwellings, and the fortified sites at Buruntza and Basagain have also yielded valuable information. The foundations of the two dwellings unearthed in Intxur were excavated in the rock, just south of a flat area between the two peaks of the hill, where they would have been sheltered from the north and northwest wind. One is rectangular in shape, and measures eleven metres by six. The gently sloping land was terraced before the house was built. The main door stands at the western end of the southern wall. The second dwelling is also rectangular and was also constructed on dressed terrain. It measures 12 x 5 metres, with the entrance at the eastern end of the south wall. On the north side the cut-away rock forms a seat-like step. Given the location and characteristics of these dwellings, the roofs would have consisted of a single-slope of vegetable material, laid on a trellis of wood and branches. This arrangement made the roof watertight while at the same time letting out the smoke from the hearth.

82. Iron nails found at Basagain.© Lamia
82. Iron nails found at Basagain.© Lamia

In Buruntza the dwellings appear to have been built along the inside of the defensive wall, to judge by the large concentration and distribution of materials, and some small construction parts found, such as post wedges and a portion of stonework.

83. Charred  beech wood from  the  Intxur dig, carved to fit into another piece.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
83. Charred beech wood from the Intxur dig, carved to fit into another piece.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa

Most of the dwellings discovered were made with materials from the surrounding area. The building techniques vary depending on local knowledge and skills, but are generally simple. The constructions varied depending on resources, climate and particular requirements.

The basic materials used were earth, stone and wood. Earth was widely used as a building material, either to form the foundations or as a complement the stone and wood in the main structure. Used for walls, floors and roofs, it offered excellent insulation. There is some evidence of the manufacture of adobe, which was common in the more southerly areas of Europe. Remains have been found in Intxur in areas corresponding to the defensive walls, particularly in the area next to an adjoining house. In Basagain the walls were made using a framework of branches, covered in mud, which was smoothed down on the outside. Like other buildings of this type in Basque Country, the walls were probably painted. In Intxur, the floors of these dwellings are known to have consisted of tamped earth.

84. Adobe is still used in many parts of the world.© Xabi Otero
84. Adobe is still used in many parts of the world.© Xabi Otero
85. Diagram showing various tools used to build a protohistoric dwelling.© Xabi Otero
85. Diagram showing various tools used to build a protohistoric dwelling.© Xabi Otero
87. Iron building tools found at Basagain.©
87. Iron building tools found at Basagain.
86. Fragment of adobe found at Basagain.© Lamia
86. Fragment of adobe found at Basagain.© Lamia
88. Fragment of mud from a wall at the Basagain settlement, showing imprints of vegetation.© Lamia
88. Fragment of mud from a wall at the Basagain settlement, showing imprints of vegetation.© Lamia

Stone was also widely used for building houses, albeit as a secondary raw material. The type of stone available locally conditioned some features of the construction. Often used to protect the house against the damp, it is also found at the base of some walls, to protect timber structures or as a base for house posts. Apart from the carved bedrock used as a foundation for the houses in Intxur, and the post wedges from Basagain, few examples of the use of stone for building houses have been found in Gipuzkoa.

89. Detail of post wedge from Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver
89. Detail of post wedge from Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver

Timber, which was in abundant supply throughout much of Europe, was an essential material for erecting any type of structure. Different species of wood were used depending on local availability, and this in turn determined to some extent the different techniques used. Timber is known to have been used in settlements such as Intxur, Basagain and Buruntza, and some remains have been found with nail holes and wedges. It is also common to find postholes in these sites. Oak and beech have both been found at Intxur and Basagain.

90. Alignment of post wedges from the dwelling at Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver
90. Alignment of post wedges from the dwelling at Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver

In addition to the dwellings, the enclosures also contained other structures, which were used for tasks such as pottery, metalworking and for storing different types of products, sometimes for sale. Few potting kilns or metal furnaces have been found in these sites, however, though to some extent this may be due to the sheer size of these fortified enclosures. Pottery and grain stores are more frequent at sites excavated in nearby regions, because of the relatively greater level of sophistication of their inhabitants; in time, excavations in Gipuzkoa will probably also unearth buildings of this sort.

93. Oak tree.© Xabi Otero, Iñaki Zorrakin
93. Oak tree.© Xabi Otero, Iñaki Zorrakin
92. Beech trees.© Xabi Otero
92. Beech trees.© Xabi Otero
91. Wood was an essential element used in building. Beech tree.© Xabi Otero, Iñaki Zorrakin
91. Wood was an essential element used in building. Beech tree.© Xabi Otero, Iñaki Zorrakin
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