The Incredible Secrets of Castro de Sabroso
Updated: Sep 13
I'm in Portugal at the moment, but it's not all sun and Super Bock. The north of the country has a multitude of megaliths, hillforts and dolmens to experience - if you can find them. This site in particular however is something else entirely, and I was extremely privileged to be granted access to it.
The Castro de Sabroso was an early Iron Age town built within a stone hillfort near the city of Braga, inhabited by the Bracari tribe. Unlike in Britain where most of our hillforts have been stripped of their stone ruins, the remains of stone roundhouses are still found on many of Portugal's Celtic "castro's" or hillforts. Sabroso was no exception, with its amazing stone ruins being discovered in 1877 after almost 2000 years of concealment in forests of oak, Cork and eucalyptus.
What makes Sabroso different from other such sites is the stretch of rock formations that lies at its centre, high above the old roundhouses. This was a Neolithic temple or observatory, inhabited a thousand years before the coming of the Celts, and it appears the Iron Age incomers treated it with the utmost reverence.
It was here that I saw arrays of the most incredible Neolithic rock art, with cup and ring marks, concentric circles and labyrinths all on display. These were carved out in alignment with natural features such as a perfectly straight seam of quartz and rocks that resemble human bodies. In my opinion, for what it's worth, the cup marks represent star systems at certain times of the year, so perhaps ritual events were held here.
It's amazing that this sacred place was encircled and protected by the Bracari tribespeople - although they did carve a crude horse figure there for some reason - and even better that its overgrown state protected the entire site for so long. Public access will be granted soon so if you are thinking about a trip abroad next year, why not?
Expect a couple more posts about mysterious places in northern Portugal soon, this is a place where awe-inspiring ancient sites seem to be around every corner!