ROMAN ENGINEERING ON THE ROADS TO SANTIAGO
II – The roads of the Rioja 
|387,||4||DE ITLIA IN HISPANIAS|
|5||A Mediolano Vapinco trans Alpes Cottias|
|6||mansionibus supra scriptis||m.p.||CCLV|
|7||inde in Galleciam ad Leug. VII Ge|
|448,||2||Item ab Asturica Tarracone||m.p.||CCCCLXXXII|
The only road that these two journeys describe connects the following known remains between Saragossa and Burgos:
|Road||Mansio||Location of remains|
|1, 28 y 32||Caesaraugusta||Zaragoza|
|28 y 32||Balsione||Junto a Mallén|
|32||Graccurris||Junto a Alfaro|
|32||Barbariana||Junto a Agoncillo|
|32||Atiliana||Yacimiento en Azofra - Valpierre|
|1||Libia||Herramélluri - Leiva|
|1||Segasamunclo||Junto a Cerezo de Riotirón|
|1, 32 y 34||Virovesca||Briviesca|
|32 y 34||Tritium||Alto de Rodilla|
|32 y 34||Deobrigula||Junto a Tardajos|
The first traces of this stretch of the Roman road from Nájera can be found already as it passes through Hormilla, where an original culvert still remains, and where the first embankments are evident.
Between Hormilla, as it passes over the hill of Valpierre, where Atiliana
 used to be, as far as San Torcuato traces of infrastructure
continue, with raised embankments, such as can be seen in many Roman roads
in so many places. This road has always been held to be Roman, and as
such it is reflected in maps. This has not prevented its conversion into
a modern agricultural road in the district of Azofra.
The famous battles of Valpierre between the Castilian forces of Count Fernán González and the Navarran forces of King Sancho Abarca were fought in the tenth century on the vast plains where it still largely remains  . The location probably resulted from the ease of access for all kinds of troops and supplies. A single stone at Valpierre has provided a record of this event over the centuries  .
The road has changed more between San Torcuato and the river Oja. It has even been asphalted over recently. As far as Herramélluri-Leiva, where Libia used to be, it is now a major highway, although it was perfectly preserved along its whole length until a few years ago.
There still remain stretches that have not changed between the river Reláchigo and the river Encemero and the two superb Roman bridges preserved at Cerezo de Río Tirón, one of which served as a crossing for the road and the other as access to Segasamunclo.
Along the whole of this length the Roman road runs through contour lines with perfect conditions for carts.
The features of the slopes and their suitability for wheeled traffic are first rate. This is in contrast to the equivalent Way to Santiago between Nájera and Belorado, where the contours are very bad. It goes through very uneven terrain, which has been turned into a roadway with great effort only through the course of centuries.
Similar circumstances apply on the stretch between Cerezo (Segasamunclo), Briviesca (Virovesca), the hill of Rodilla (Tritium) and the city of Burgos, through which the road passes  .
Between Cerezo and Burgos we find highly important traces of road in the form of embankments on good foundations of stonework that go on for miles. They are fully described in previous publications.
At the same time, between Belorado and Burgos, the Way to St. James as occurred in its previous length, runs through uneven terrain, unsuitable for roadmaking and lacking the least trace of infrastructure, as can seen in the unaltered lengths.
The passage of pilgrims along the Roman road between Nájera and Briviesca
seems to be proved by clear evidence. It is known that there was a hostelry
in Hormilla and a Templar fort  . Between Leiva and Tormantos, still in the
territory of the Rioja, we find the hermitage of Nuestra Señora la Peregrina
[Our Lady the Pilgrim – The Virgin Pilgrim] right next to the Way,
a dedication that undoubtedly links the place to pilgrimages.
In Cerezo there are various pieces of evidence of the passage of the Way to St. James. The existence of the hostelry of Sanjurjo at Cerezo  , is located in the same street as the church of St. Nicholas, the strata maiore mentioned in a document of 913  , possibly the Roman road on its way through Cerezo.
In the Parish Museum of Cerezo is preserved a pilgrim’s scallop-shell, with the typical pair of perforations in its upper part. It comes from the ruins of the apse of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Llana  [Our Lady of the Plain], a pilgrim’s offering kept in the church since time immemorial.
At Briviesca long ago there existed a church dedicated to St. James beside the road to Belorado  . There was also a hostelry called “de los Peregrinos” [of the Pilgrims] or “de Santa María la Mayor  " [of St. Mary the Greater], located outside the walls in the direction of Burgos. But this was already catering also for the needs of pilgrims arriving by the Vía Aquitana.
Once the passage through Logroño was secured in 1095, the passage over
the river Ebro approached closely the road existing in Roman times in
Varea. It therefore seems logical that the Roman road between Varea and
Nájera should be used again: the starting point near to the outlet of
the river Iregua makes it quite accessible from Logroño. Also in its immediate
area there passes the very long line of the road called Calleja Vieja
From here, through Navarrete and Tricio, the Roman road provoked the admiration of scholars who were able to see it in the eighteenth century  . Superb remains  could be seen until they were destroyed not long ago, with no misgivings, at the hands of short-sighted, ignorant administrators .
This Roman road and the more modern road that runs through Grajera, still used today by pilgrims, run parallel and very close together, starting from Navarrete.
The conditions of the Roman road, as regards layout and even more as regards surface, as well as visibility, as it follows a high and well-drained line are perfect.
The superb remains that can be seen along the whole length of this section
make it inexcusable that pilgrims do not use it today
Pilgrims today meet up again with the Roman road at the bridge of river
Najerilla in Nájera. Nonetheless pilgrims no longer go through Tricio,
although their passage also along this section of the Roman road is well
documented, as is also the existence of a pilgrim’s hostelry in
Tricio itself  . The
actual presence of the hermitage of Santa María de los Arcos [St. Mary
of the Arches] at the foot of the road must have attracted many devotions
along this section of Roman road.
From here on one can make use of the road which was established as a consequence of the political interests of Kings Sancho el Mayor at first and Alfonso VI afterwards, and also as a consequence of the work in the building of hostelries undertaken by Saints Domingo and his disciple Juan, in their caring for the pilgrims who were later attracted by the sanctuaries consecrated in honour of the benefactors of the road itself.
This road is certainly very badly laid with no type of surfacing, as one can see even today where it has not been altered.
For its spiritual objectives and its normal traffic by foot or at most by horse, together with the absence of goods traffic for trade purposes on the part of this migratory flow, any road would do, provided it covered the requirements for religion or accommodation.
As we have shewn, the final consolidation of this road came about as a result of the efforts to set up towns, especially by the Franks, in the twelfth century, together with a goodly number of sanctuaries and hostelries  .
Already in 1047 Count Gómez de Carrión founded a monastery and a pilgrims’
hostelry in Arconada. García of Nájera founded a pilgrim hostelry in the
monastery of Irache and a superb lodging complex in Nájera (1052). But
the big push in
In 1076 the saintly hermit Domingo set himself up on the banks of the river Oja to attract the attention of the pilgrims. He founded a hostelry and built a bridge over the river Oja. It is said that he also rebuilt the ancient Roman crossing over the river Najerilla at Nájera.
Bishop Osmundo of Astorga built the Pont Ferrada [Iron Bridge] which gave rise to the city. In 1096 Bishop Pedro de León founded a hostelry in León and in Carrión. Count Gómez Díaz founded another next to the monastery of San Zoilo.
Alfonso repopulated Sahagún with Franks (1085), Villafranca del Bierzo and perhaps Villafranca de Montes de Oca. Finally he repopulated Logroño (1095) at the same time as he rebuilt the bridge.
This definitive way of St. James is what is described for us by the Pilgrims’ Guide of the Codex Calestinus of the twelfth century, of which book V forms the Guide of the Liber Sancti Jacobi [St. James’ book], attributed to Aymerich Picaud, chancellor to Pope Calixtus  .
It is of interest here to look at the Spanish section of this itinerary and its relationship with the Camino Real [Royal Road], described by Villuga four centuries afterwards, between Santiago and San Juan de Pie de Puerto:
|Liber Sancti Jacobi (¿1120?)||Villuga Itinerary (1546)||Present-day|
|La Austia de Remiega|
|Pons Regine||Arga et Runa f.||La Puente la Reina||Puente la Reina|
|Arcus||Los Arcos||Los Arcos|
|Turres||Flumen laetiferum||Torres de Sansol|
|Sanctus Dominicus||Santo Domingo de la Calzada||Santo Domingo|
|Francavilla||Villafranca de Montes de Oca||Villafranca Montes de Oca|
|Nemus Oque||Montes de Oca|
|Nuestra Señora la Blanca|
One can see that, with the exceptions of some of the stations in one or other itinerary, both cover the same route.
Once the route between Nájera and Burgos was established, through the road of Santo Domingo and Belorado, the Roman road was quickly abandoned for pilgrimage and probably for the scarce trade along it in the Middle Ages.
The basic reason seems doubtless to have been that, as the increase in population along the corridor of the St. James’ Way was increasing, at the same time the population on the Roman road was diminishing.
This can still be observed, even today. Between Hormilla, near Nájera, and Tormantos, near Cerezo, the Roman road runs through unpopulated country and traverses no town. This proves that there was little or no transit on this road, because no townships grew up alongside it.
Even the nearby towns did not expand to the road or acquire prosperity from it. This can be seen in the townships nearest to this stretch of road.
The village of San Torcuato is mentioned in 1175 with the name of Villaporquera. In 1541 it had 44 inhabitants and still kept this name. In 1846 it had grown to 52 inhabitants  .
Villalobar, on evidence from 1120, although it had the advantage of the passage over the river Oja, at the point where it had previously been a Roman road, in 1571 had 29 inhabitants and in 1830 it had 50  .
So the Roman road runs for sixteen and a half miles (26·5 kilometres) without going through any habitation.
In contrast, in 1546, as Villuga describes for us in several itineraries,
the Camino Real [Royal Road] ran through Santo Domingo and Belorado under
the protection of townships, some of them already important. Of most importance
was the one he called from Santiago in
The importance for culture and tourism of the Way to Santiago throughout its whole length is a fact beyond any doubt. It is moreover an investment for the future and a source of income for the localities through which it passes.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Roman road, a scene of the most infantile ignorance and negligence.
Despite the importance for culture and heritage of the whole length of
Roman road that has been described in this Community of the Rioja, its future in fact gives little grounds for hope. In latter years there have been irreversible changes and assaults that are unbecoming to a modern, culturally advanced Community.
The string of destruction on the Roman road has no end. In 1999 several miles of the Roman road throughout the district of Azofra, specifically named “Camino de los Romanos” [Roman Way], were converted into a modern local road, despite the wealth of archaeological data available at the time, previously unimaginably supportive.
On successive occasions many other stretches were covered and altered, until in January 2003 the best traces of the Roman road in the whole of the Rioja, the superbly preserved embankments of Tricio, were destroyed.
This trend must be reversed. This is an urgent task that is the responsibility of the officials of the Community Heritage, correcting past mistakes, so that future generations may know what the first road in this part of the world was like.
Let us hope that the incentive of cultural tourism, as an alternative
to religious pilgrimages, will be the most successful means of bringing
it back into use, to begin a new age of conservation and to gain respect
for what remains of this historical and cultural heritage of the Rioja
of the highest order.
 Chapter I of this series, MORENO GALLO, I. 2002. La vieja
carretera castellanoleonesa [The old highway through
- Revista Cimbra no 346 (June 2002) by the Colegio de Ingenieros Técnicos de Obras Públicas [College of Public Works Technical Engineers].
- Publications of the Institución Tello Téllez de Meneses no 73. 2002. Diputación de Palencia.
 I refer principally to the work by VÁZQUEZ DE PARGA, L.; LACARRA, J.M.; URÍA RÍU, J. 1949, Las perigrinaciones a Santiago de Compostela [Pilgimages to Santiago de Compostela].
Other lengthy publications exist that are not quite so useful for the present purpose, such as HUIDOBRO Y SERNA, L. 1950. Las perigrinaciones a Santiago. [Pilgrimages to Santiago] 3 volumes.
There are others that are shorter but well documented that shew that their author has closely examined and travelled the Way, such as those of PASSINI, J. 1993. El Camino de Santiago: itinerario y núcleos de población [The Way to Santiago: route and population centres], and 1988 Aragón: los núcleos urbanos del Camino de Santiago [Aragon: urban nuclei on the Way to Santiago].
 MORENO GALLO, I. Descripción de la vía de Italia a Hispania en Burgos y Palencia [Description of the road from Italia to Hispania] (November, 1998). Junta de Castilla y León, Conserjería de Educación y Cultura.
1st edition 1999, in interactive format on CD-ROM in collaboration with the Junta de Castilla y León.
2nd edition July 2001, book published by the Diputación Provincial de Burgos and the Diputación Provincial de Palencia.
1st edition December 2001. Miliario Extravagante, Appendix 2, La red viaria antigua en la Rioja, [The ancient road network of the Rioja] part 1. La vía de Italia a Hispania en la Rioja. [The road from Italia to Hispania in the Rioja].
 MARTÍNEZ DÍEZ, G. 1998, pp.15 and 16. El camino de Santiago en la provincia de Burgos. [The road to Santiago in the province of Burgos].
 LACARRA. 1949, vol. II, ch.I, pp.11 et seqq., Las peregrinaciones … op cit.
 LACARRA. 1949, vol. II, ch.I, pp.12 et 22, Las peregrinaciones … op cit.
 LACARRA. 1949, vol. II, ch.I, p.21, Las peregrinaciones … op cit.
 HUIDOBRO Y SERNA, L. 1950. Las peregrinaciones a Santiago. [Pilgrimages to Santiago]
MARTÍNEZ DÍEZ, G. 1998. El camino de Santiago …op.cit.
UBIETO ARTETA, 1993, Los caminos de Santiago en Aragón [The roads to Santiago in Aragon].
 LACARRA. 1949, vol. II, ch.I, pp.12 and 22, Las peregrinaciones … op cit.
 VÁZQUEZ DE PARGA. 1949 vol.I, ch.I, p.41 et seqq. Las peregrinaciones … op.cit
 This is not the first time that I have complained about this aspect, and I fear it will continue. Unfortunately almost the whole of the Roman road network remains untraced. On the other hand there are too many paved ways, which, despite their poor construction techniques, have been ascribed to Roman engineers. In this respect refer to:
MORENO GALLO, I. 2001. Infraestructura viaria romana. [Roman road infrastructure] Revista Obra Pública nº 56. Ingeniería e Historia. Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos Canales y Puertos.
 ROLDÁN HERVÁS, J.M. 1975, p.98 Itineraria hispana.[Spanish itineraries].
 LACARRA, 1949, vol.II, ch.I, p.23, Las peregrinaciones … op.cit.
 SERRANO PINEDA, I. 1930., p.24. Cartulario de San Millán de la Cogolla. Cartulary of San Millán de la Cogolla]
 LACARRA. 1949, vol.II, ch.VII, p.150. Las peregrinaciones … op.cit.
 MORENO GALLO, I.1999. La red viaria antigua en la Rioja … op.cit.
 STRABO (c.63B.C.-A.D.25) Geography III.4.12.
 ESPINOSA RUIZ, U. 1995. pp.126-127. In Historia de la ciudad de Logroño. [History of the city of Logroño] vol.I.
 A halo of Romancism has circled for many years over the Mandible Bridge. This is reflected in learned references from the 19th century that deal with it:
RUIZ GALARRETA, J.M. 1959, pp.117-119. La leyenda del Puente Mandible [The legend of the Mandible Bridge].. Berceo, 50.
MENÉNDEZ PIDAL, G. 1951, pp.38-39 Los caminos en la historia de España [Roads in Spanish history] refers to it also, when he speaks of the admiration that there was in Mediaeval times for bridges like this, the stuff of many legends.
Others, as they assert its Roman origin, go on to compare this bridge with the great classics of the Roman world, such as those at Alcántara, Mérida, Alconetar, etc. MARTÍN BUENO, M.A. & MOYA VALGAÑÓN, J.G. 1972, p.176. El Puente Mandible. Estudios de Arqueología Alavesa, Vol. V. Vitoria 1972.
FERNÁNDEZ CASADO, C. 1980. Historia del puente en España. Puentes
romanos. [History of bridges in
On the other hand LIZ GUIRAL, J. 1985. p.50, Puentes romanos del Convento Jurídico Caesaraugustano [Roman bridges of the Juridical Convent of Saragossa], adopts purely geometric arguments, the merits of which are very much open to debate, and he also claims Roman origins for other bridges, for which construction in modern times has been established, such as that at Agoncillo on the river Leza at the end of the 18th century.
 AZCARATE GARAY-OLAUN, A.; PALACIOS MENDOZA, V. 1996. pp.333-334, Puentes de Álava. Gobierno Vasco [Basque Government]. This exhaustive work specifically on all the bridge of Álava, alludes to a forthcoming study specifically on this bridge, and thus avoids coming to a decision on whether it is Roman. The authors limit themselves to referring the reader to existing works on the subject.
 It is necessary to mention here the research of the road engineer Manuel Durán, recorded in his unpublished thesis. Only as few conclusions have been advanced; but its publication reveals the necessity for the Roman bridges of Hispania to be systematically analysed and rationally catalogued.
DURÁN FUENTES, M. 2001, La identificación de los puentes romanos en Hispania: una cuestión a desarrollar [The identification of Roman bridges in Hispania - an on-going problem] Revista Obra Pública Ingeniería y Territorio no. 57. Monográfico Ingeniería e Historia III. Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos Canales y Puertos, December 2001.
DURÁN FUENTES, M. 2002.Análisis constructivo de los puentes romanos. [Structural analysis of Roman bridges] Libro de Ponencias del Primer Congreso sobre las Obras Públicas Romanas [Reports of the First Congress on Roman Public Works]. Mérida, November 2002.
 Servicio Geográfico del Ejército [Army Geographic Service] American flights in 1956 and 1957
 STRABO. III.4.12
 CANTERA BURGOS, F. 1945, p.56 Fuero de Miranda de Ebro [Statute of Miranda de Ebro].
 ROLDÁN HERVÁS, J.M. 1975, pp.38-45 and pp. 96-98. Itineraria Hispana
 Discursos leídos ante la Real Academia de la Historia en la recepción pública de Don Eduardo Saavedra el día 28 de diciembre de 1862, [Lectures given before the Royal Academy of History on the public receptio of Mr. Eduardo Saavedra, 28th December 1962]. Madrid 1914
 On the various sitings of Atiliana throughout history and as finally suggested, see MORENO GALLO, I. 2001. La vía romana de Italia a Hispania en la Rioja… op.cit.
 It was very evident in the time of Govantes. This historiam mentions the road in various annexes to his work. Moreover he asserts that it was in a magnificent state of preservation: GOVANTES, A.C., 1846, pp. 68, 142, 205. Diccionario geográfico-histórico de España [Geographical and Historical Dictionary of Spain]. Section II . Comprende toda la Rioja o toda la provincia de Logroño y algunos pueblos de la de Burgos [comprising the whole of the Rioja and the whole of the province of Logroño and some towns of the province of Burgos]
In the same way, Francisco Coello draws the Roman road on his map as running through this plain: COELLO, F. Mapa de la provincia de Logroño de 1851 [Map of the province of Logroño in 1851].
 GOVANTES, A.C. 1846, p.204, Diccionario geográfico-histórico … op. cit.
 MORENO GALLO, I. 2001. Descripción de la Vía de Italia … op cit.
 GOVANTES, A.C., 1846, p.142, Diccionario geográfico-histórico … op cit.
 PÉREZ AVELLANEDA, M. 1983, p. 135 Cerezo de Riotirón, Autrigón, romano y medieval [Roman and Mediaeval Cerezo de Riotirón and Autrigón].
 SERRANO, L. 1910,
pp.328 et seqq. Doc.322. Fuentes para la historia de Castilla.
[Sources for the history of
 PERÉZ AVELLANEDA, M. 1983, p.137. Cerezo de Riotirón … op.cit.
 ARGAIZ, 1669, p.318, Población eclesiástica en España [Population of the Church in Spain]
 LACARRA. 1949, vol.I, ch.XIX, p.456 Las peregrinaciones … op.cit.
 PRESTAMERO, I. 1796, p.280. In the work by González de Echavarri: Alaveses Ilustres [Famous people of Álava]: Biografía de Lorenzo de Prestamero [Biography of Lorenzo de Prestamero]. Textos. Real Sociedad Vascongada de Amigos del País [Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country]:
".a line has been preserved, made of gravel that had to be specially brought from a distance, because there is none of the same type in the whole of the rest of that region. As soon as one climbs the height, one can see the road unkept for a long stretch, which turns from the South to the North to go round some valleys that can be seen. The bed of this road is of chalk stone, covered with gravel, and continues under Cerezo, Quintanilleja, Tormantos, Leiva, Herramélluri, Villalobar, San Torcuato, Valpierre, Hormilla, Nájera, Navarrete, Logroño, Varea, Calahorra, Alfaro, Saragossa. Throughout this long length, besides the unbroken traces of its route, one can find many whole lengths of the Roman road. I have seen these, especially in the parts near Vallalobar, San Torcuato, Valpierre, Calahorra, Logroño and Alfaro where there are some lengths that look as though they had just been laid ."
 This length is clearly identified and established in this part for the first time in MORENO GALLO, I. 2001. La red viaria antigua en la Rioja … op.cit.
 Basic details can be seen:
MUNTIÓN HERNÁEZ, C. and MORENO GALLO, I. November 2002, Nosotros proponemos … [We suggest …] Piedra de Rayo. Revista riojana de cultura popular [Riojan review of popular culture].
And the detailed description of this stretch to be seen in MORENO GALLO, I. 2002, p.7 El miliario extravagante [The eccentric mile-stone].no 81.
 SAENZ RIPA, E. 1994. La atención al peregino [Care for pilgrims]. Actas de las V Semanas de Estudios Medievales de Nájera [Papers of the Five Weeks of Mediaeval Studies of Nájera]. Instituto de Estudios Riojanos [Institute of Riojan Studies].
 LACARRA 1949 vol.II, ch.I, pp.19 et seqq. Las peregrinaciones … op.cit.
 VÁZQUEZ DE PARGA. 1949. Vol. I, pp.201 et seqq. Las peregrinaciones … op.cit.
 GOVANTES, A.C. 1846, p.180. Diccionario geográfico-histórico. op. cit.
 Idem, p.210.