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Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa  
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  • Name: Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa
  • Typology: Tower
  • Classification: Public Interest Monument, by Decree 466/2012, DR 183 of 20th September 2012
  • Municipality: Paredes
  • Visiting Hours: Free 
  • Entrance Fee: Free 
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : +351 255 810 706 / +351 918 116 488 
  • Fax: +351 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail: rotadoromanico@valsousa.pt  
  • Web: www.rotadoromanico.com 
  • Location:
    Travessa do Castelo, Aguiar de Sousa, Paredes, Porto.
  • How to Get Here:

     

  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 7' 26.054" N / 8° 26' 18.768" W 
History
History
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Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa The Castle is part of the history of the Christian Reconquest, and was attacked in 995, by Almançor.

He was the leader of a “Terra” [territory] in the process of territorial reorganization, occurred throughout the eleventh century, and a “Julgado” [jurisdiction] in the 13th century.

Its location deployment reveals the defensive concerns used in the construction, once it is very difficult to access and is surrounded by higher hills that make it hard to perceive. The Asturian kings gave particular attention to the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa, which was part of the defensive network of the territory at this time.

The Tower might not have existed in the twelfth century, although the construction of watchtowers within the fortified walls would be normal in Romanesque times.

The Julgado of Aguiar de Sousa [jurisdiction of Aguiar de Sousa] was one of the most powerful of the Entre-Douro-e-Minho region, accumulating considerable wealth, and bordered by the rivers Sousa and Ferreira and the tributaries Eiriz and Mesio.

The territory of this “Julgado” [jurisdiction] extended from Porto till the vicinity of Penafiel, including all the parishes of what is today the municipality of Paredes, with the exception of Recarei, plus 42 parishes of the neighbouring municipalities, as evidenced by the "Inquirições" [administrative enquiries] of 1220.

Historical Figures
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Almançor, Abu Amir Muhammad 
Almançor, Abu Amir Muhammad
Abu Amir Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abi Amir, Al-Hajib Al-Mansur (Torrox, Malaga, 938 - Medinaceli, August 8th, 1002) was the governor of Al-Andalus, former Arabic name of the region of Andalusia, in Spain, in the end of the 10th century early 11th century.

He ruled as the Caliph on behalf of the legitimate heir, Hixem II, who was still very young and inexperienced when his father, Ali-Hakam II, died.  His rule marked the climax of the Umayyad Empire in the Iberian Peninsula.

Among his main achievements are, in 987, the siege of Coimbra, which was deserted for seven years and then rebuilt and occupied by the Ishmaelites, the siege of Montemor, on 2nd December 990, and the siege of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa, in the Portucalense province.  He conquered and destroyed the important Christian stronghold of Santiago de Compostela, where he only respected the grave of the apostle.

Chronology
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10th century - Probable construction of the Castle;

995 - Conquered by Almançor;

1220 - In the "Inquirições" [administrative enquiries] this territory is dominated by the Sousas and is designated by “Termo” [territory] of Ferreira and “Termo” [territory]  of Aguiar, locating the administrative centre in the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa;

1258 - The Julgado of Aguiar de Sousa [jurisdiction of Aguiar de Sousa] is created;

1411- Foral charter by King D. João I;

1513 (25th November) - King D.  Manual grants the Foral Charter to "Aguyar de Sousa";

1758 - Aguiar de Sousa belonged to the District of Penafiel;

1837 - Aguiar de Sousa is terminated as county and integrated in Paredes;

1999 - The owner was the widow of Mr.  Amável Costa;

2004 - The Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2008 -  Works of general preservation and enhancement of the property in the scope of the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2011-2013 - Cleaning work of the weed vegetation; review of lighting; rehabilitation of the access to the Tower; archaeological works in the surrounding area of the Tower, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

2012 - The Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa is classified as Public Interest Monument.

Specialities
Architecture
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Plan of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

This monument is an example of medieval military architecture, sitting on the remains of an ancient fortified structure, based on a quadrangular structure, offset from the ovaloid wall.

 

Plan of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

 

Plan of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

Archeology
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Preservation works have been carried for clearing of weeds, the area with still visible archaeological remains was identified and we proceeded to the registration and reading of the archaeological site.

The clearing allowed the clear observation of the property and its surroundings, giving rise to some evidence that helped the continuity of the works.

Archaeological intervention of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

There were three surveys:  one inside the Tower, a second in the upper deck and the last one on the lower deck.

The defensive walls were also cleaned, revealing a construction technique that involved regular apparel, shale and quartzite masonry, interrupted occasionally by rocky outcrops and filled with small fragments of shale.

On the lower deck, the wall that holds the respective lands extends towards south, disappearing by the successive collapses of the upper platform, according to the archaeological report.

The interior survey, of 120 by 120 cm, close to the walls of the northeast corner, revealed the following stratigraphy:

Layer 0.0 - Dead layer under loose soil with roots and rocks;
Layer 0.1 - Layer of loose mortar of grey colour;
Layer 0.2 - Brown soil, with stones and lumps of mortar;
Layer 0.3 - Brown thinner soil; rocky strata.
The second survey, on the upper deck, near the inner face of the wall on the northeast side, 200 by 200 cm, allowed to find the following stratigraphy:
Layer 0.0 - Top layer, dark grey hue, with many roots, little rocks and sand;
Layer 0.1 - Very dark soil, with many large stones;
Layer 0.2 - Brown soil, with many roots and small and medium-sized stones;
Layer 0.3 - Very dark soil, homogeneous, with many large and medium-sized rocks;
Layer 0.4 - Dark brown soil, homogeneous and compact;
Layer 0.5 - Yellowish brown soil, muddy, very compact.

The removal of some stones showed the existence of an astraight wall, with a south to north orientation, with only one visible face, since the other is now destroyed.

In the defensive wall there was proof of the existence of a primitive wall, corresponding to the lowest wall, identified from the outside, extending into the inside, with a width of about 150 cm, on which another wall, narrower, about 50 cm wide would have been built.

Archaeological intervention of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

The latest survey, conducted on the north side, next to the wall of the lower deck, revealed a homogeneous layer of earth, very dark, with many fragments of reddish clay, mixed with small fragments of thin black ceramics.  The survey was incomplete by the appearance of a quartzite layer to the west, which decreased the work area.

The archaeological work listed 419 pieces of household pottery, especially 41 edges, 12 funds, 31 decorated, four wings and 331 without shape. The analysis of these fragments revealed homogeneous masses with medium-sized and small quartz, white and black mica, perfectly visible on the surfaces.

The drying is mostly narrow. Some examples of drying tend to be oxidising or a result of iron oxides. The finishing is manual, the internal surfaces often lack smoothing and the external surfaces are mostly rough, argues the aforementioned report. The soot that appears in several fragments reveals their use on fire, even because most are pans.

Several metallic iron objects, including a knife/sickle, a nail, an arrowhead and a fragment of what would have been the stem of an arrowhead also appeared.

Surroundings
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In the scope of the Study for the Enhancement and Protection of the Monuments of the  Route of the Romanesque of the Vale do Sousa, in which the guidelines and framework of the subsequent development of technical projects for implementation and respective works for the enhancement and protection of the surroundings were defined, the conditions considered most relevant for the preservation and requalification of the surroundings were described.

The aim of this Study is to preserve the context in which these are integrated, namely the integration of constraints on legal provisions - such as Special Protection Areas - restricting urban interventions that may endanger the integrity of the surroundings.

Surroundings of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

We also proceeded to the definition of areas and interventions of general nature to take into account in the surroundings, in order to extend the planning to a wider area and allow better circulation of tourists in the region.

Finally, the Study defined the priority interventions to be carried out in the surroundings, to allow the stabilization of the territories and, simultaneously, correct and/or create structures and supporting infrastructures.

The surrounding landscape should be maintained and the inappropriate works, carried out in some construction amendments of vernacular nature, in the vicinities of the Tower, should be corrected.

Next to the access to the property a parking lane should be created at the same time that all the cleaning and signalling on site should be carried out.

The rich heritage that the mills, now abandoned and in ruins, represent, should be submitted to an operation which may restore their original building system.

The natural surroundings on the banks of the river must be enhanced with the cleaning and treatment of botanic elements and the replacement of exotic species by native botanic species.

The existing hydroelectric plant is to be intervened, in order to re-qualify and soften the visual impact exerted on the landscape.

Restoration and Enhancement
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The Tower was the object of consolidation, conservation and preservation works, which also included the respective surroundings and accesses.

With regard to the property, the works involved the construction of a structure on the inside to serve as a balcony overlooking the landscape, thus allowing its use as a belvedere.

The surface of the batters and the walls was clean, on all visible sides, without resorting to chemicals or other abrasive techniques which may not be compatible with the existing stone.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

This was followed by the consolidation of structures, namely the staircase and the remaining walls of the old access path, by using techniques and materials similar or compatible with the existing ones. To access the top, a metal ladder was installed.

In the accesses, we sought to consolidate the support wall which skirts the south side of the footpath, thus proceeding to the demolition of the existing wall on the curve and the replacement of another one by a support wall.

The path for car access was built in sliced schist, with a drop of two percent at the axis of the track, while the section intended for pedestrians was built on gravel/soil cement.  

Restoration and Enhancement of the Tower of the Castle of Aguiar de Sousa

For the drainage of rainwater, a system composed of manholes, precast concrete jump chamber, grids for collecting surface water and installation of a rainwater conductor pipe, connecting the manholes and the jump chamber with final connection to the public drainage system was built.

In addition to placing barriers for traffic and planting trees of native species, we proceeded to the lighting of the site.

Gallery
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Bibliography

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – Castelologia medieval de Entre-Douro-e-Minho: desde as origens a 1220. Porto: [s.n.], 1978. Trabalho complementar para prestação de provas de doutoramento, apresentado à Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – “Castelos e cercas medievais: séculos X a XIII”. In MOREIRA, Rafael - História das Fortificações Portuguesas no Mundo. Lisboa: Edições Alfa, 1989.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – “Castelos medievais do noroeste de Portugal”. In BALIL, Alberto - Finis Terrae: estudios en lembranza. Santiago de Compostela: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 1992.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – História da Arte em Portugal: o Românico. Lisboa: Editorial Presença, 2001.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – “Os Castelos de Aguiar de Sousa e de Vandoma-Baltar”. O Concelho de Paredes: boletim municipal. Paredes: Câmara Municipal de Paredes. Vol. II (1980).

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – "Território paroquial de Entre-Douro-e-Minho: sua sacralização". Nova Renascença. Porto: Associação Cultural "Nova Renascença". Vol. I, nº 2 (1981) p. 202-212.

BARREIRO, José do – Monografia de Paredes. Porto: Tipografia Mendonça, 1922.

MATTOSO, José; KRUS, Luís; BETTENCOURT, Olga – “As Inquirições de 1258 como fonte da história da Nobreza: o Julgado de Aguiar de Sousa”. Revista de História Económica e Social. Lisboa: Sá da Costa. N.º 9 (Jan. - Jun. 1992) p.17-74.

PINTO, M. L. C. – O castelo de Aguiar de Sousa. Porto: [s.n.], 1966.

PINTO, R. – Paredes - Jóia do Sousa, Paços Ferreira: [s.n.], 1996.

ROSAS, Lúcia (coord.) – Românico do Vale do Sousa. Lousada: Comunidade Urbana do Vale do Sousa, 2008.

SILVA, Maria Antónia – “Torre do Castelo de Aguiar de Sousa: resultados preliminares de uma sondagem arqueológica”. In Actas do I Encontro de Arqueologia das Terras de Sousa. Oppidum - Revista de Arqueologia, História e Património. Lousada: Câmara Municipal de Lousada. Número Especial (2008).

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