|3 June 2005 - This is essentially a 'diversion' from http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817">Jane's weblog of the same date.
On our last full day in Menorca, after visiting El Toro, we decided that as Jane and the kids wanted to spend the scorching day at their favourite beach, Binidali, I'd drop them off and head off to see some stuff on my own. The promise of 2 talaiots, one of which you can (unusually) get inside wasn't attraction enough, especially when Jane found out there was walking involved….
I headed west along the road from Mao to Ciutadella, and took the main left turn towards Sant Tomas. I passed through Es Migjorn Gran and about halfway from there to the little roundabout entering Sant Tomas, there is a dirt verge-cum-layby on the right. I know it's roughly halfway because I went right past to make sure it was the right place!
This parking place is effectively on a triangular 'island' between 2 arms (the second of which was pretty difficult to spot in the vegetation) of a farm lane leading to Sant Agusti Vell.
Setting off on foot up the farm drive ('no vehicles' sign), I immediately noticed what looked like an overgrown talaiot to the right, on a fairly steep hill. I figured it was probably way too soon for the 'main' Sant Agusti stuff, but had to have a stomp up to have a look. Apart from anything else, I didn't trust the tourist map I had….
A bonus talaiot
Bonus hilltop talaiot
The talaiot was a little 'knocked about' but I got some great views from its top, boosted by its hilltop location. Also got badly scratched legs from the viciously sharp dry vegetation and incredibly sweaty! Views were especially good of some caves across a valley to the west(ish).
Caves from top of talaiot
Roughly to the south/SSW I could see a couple of very clear talaiots on the horizon a km or 2 away. Target located! (There was yet another really trashed talaiot to the north too!)
Back on track
I descended to the farm track – scratch, scratch…ooyah, owwww! – and continued along the blessedly smooth track, but by the time I reached the farm buildings I hadn't spotted an definite path to get to where the site appeared to be.
Just as I reached the first byre, there was a farmgate on the right, with a nice herd of cattle in close attendance. This turned out to be the way I wanted to go, but I played safe and walked up to the farmhouse, to ask. Looking beyond the house, over the garden, I could see the talaiots still around a km away.
Gate by first farm buildings
Seemed to be nobody about, but through a little yard I could see a woman in the house, so dripping with sweat and dishevelled, I knocked at the kitchen door. Exclusively using the words 'por favor' (a lot) 'talaiots' & finger-walking signs (much as I had at http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37799">Torre Llisa Vell!) I was rewarded. The woman couldn't speak English but was very friendly & pointed me the way I expected – back to the cattlegate and round the west side of the farm buildings, following a grassy track. The talaiots were clearly visible.
Sant Agusti talaiots (top of pic) from farm path
After about 10-15 minutes, the talaiots were very close, but somewhat obscured by shrubby bushes between them and the path. Here I got a sign that the site's definitely supposed to be accessible to the public, as it has the familiar 'official' Menorca monument litterbin. Approaching the talaiots, I even spotted an info board!
Sant Agusti at last
Poblat and taula(s)
Two talaiots in pretty good condition stand in a poblat which is quite scattered and large, but close to them is largely a rolling sea of rubble with remnants of walls poking out. Between the talaiots I could see an oval enclosure with several fairly tall uprights – I took this to be the remnants of a taula-less taula sanctuary.
Poblat from eastern talaiot (western talaiot left of centre behind trees, possible taula sanctuary right of centre by trees)
I've since discovered comments on the rather 'quaint' (frames!) but useful http://www.menorcaweb.net/arqueologia/menorca%20ing/index1.htm">'The Archaeology of Minorca' website, that this makes sense, and apparently another enclosure is taken to be a second taula(less) sanctuary.
Possible taula sanctuary
I picked my wobbling way around the edge of the rubble sea to the south of the talaiots, by a (probably) more modern wall, spotting a series of cisterns as I went.
Most obvious cistern
But then, peeping over the wall…the unmistakeable 'T' of a complete Taula!!!! How could this not be mentioned in the info we had? I resisted the temptation of elation and having seen several other taulas during the week, I adopted a cynical view – it didn't seem to be in the 'right' place in relation to the other remains & the taula itself didn't quite look right.
It looks like a taula…
Getting a foothold in the wall where it passes closest to the 'T' of the 'taula', I peered over. The taula seemed suspiciously close to one 'corner' of the only very vaguely oval enclosure. The enclosure seemed unusually 'open', not particularly oval and rather 'plain' for a taula sanctuary. Not sure it's the 'real deal'.
As mentioned above, however, there is meant to be another taula sanctuary here, without a 'T'. I suppose this could be it, but with a 'modern' T....
Also in its 'favour', the 'T' at http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817">Na Comerma) is very much in a 'corner' of its enclosure yet seems to be accepted as 'real'. The enclosure at Na Comerma is so full of rubble that it's difficult to tell what's going on, but it still manages to feel more like other taula sanctuaries than this one does.
And the final thing that makes me think I may be wrong to doubt its authenticity is that according to a taula 'reconstruction' diagram I've seen, (at least some) taula sanctuaries may have had many smaller 'T's on pillars round the edges of the sanctuary. And there is possible evidence of that here.
…I'm not sure!
Have a look & decide for yourself!
The talaiots both seemed relatively small compared with, say, Trepuco or Talati de Dalt (see http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37730">another of Jane's weblogs).
And to be honest, after a week in Menorca, the one to the west was 'just another quite nice talaiot', once I'd established that it wasn't the one that you can get inside. (It does have what look like a couple of small blocked entrances though.)
But the other is a mindblast! This was the eastern one - nearest the path I described arriving by. From the outside it's the same, but….
Eastern talaiot entrance
Once you find the actual entrance…(round the 'side', facing the 'bogus' taula)…and look in - WOW!!! Suddenly vague thoughts of the vaulting of Orcadian tombs like the http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/206">Fairy Knowe come stealing in…. (Though without the ultra-classy Orcadian flag stonework and it wasn't built as a tomb!)
Looking into eastern talaiot – rucksack for scale.
Assuming that talaiots were indeed lookout towers, presumably the inside was used as a shelter for the lookouts or was where they lived. I've read that most or many talaiots had an entrance and/or 'room' either at the bottom or near the top, but I don't think I've read anything that said anything about the use of the inside.
Inside eastern talaiot
Well worth the walk!!! Having cooled off in the shade of the chamber, I headed back to the car and off to Torre d'en Gaumes where I asked the friendly lass at the gate for directions to Ses Roques Lisses, a Neolithic burial chamber, and Na Comerma, another taula sanctuary very close by. (See http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/user/1761/weblog/0/37817 ">Jane's weblog.)
I got my directions, but after about 2 hours stomping around in the heat, I still hadn't found either! I returned to Gaumes and the lass was kind enough to say that if we came back around 8pm when she finished work, she'd take us to both!!! And well worth all the effort it was too!!!
Posted by Moth
21st July 2005ce
Edited 18th June 2007ce
Moth's TMA Blog
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