Equestrian Trail Lanheses - Montaria (Serra de Arga)

The path starts on the right margin of the Lima river, alongside the quay where in yesteryears the boats arriving from “lugar da passagem” (across the river) would dock, connecting Moreira de Geraz do Lima to Lanheses. This equestrian trail travels along the southern slope of Serra de Arga towards the mountain village of Montaria.

Extensive farming fields, the typical farming landscape in Lanheses, begins to change as the trail travels through the Ribeiro de Rio Tinto valley and the farming lowlands located next to the Seixo river, crossing the villages of Meixedo and Vilar de Murteda. Extensive arable plots for irrigated crops are lined with vines, visually dominating the alluvial plains of the Lima river. These gradually give way to a more compartmented and diverse agrosilvopastoral landscape. 

This trail takes advantage of a natural corridor that crosses Serra de Arga, which may be considered a gateway coinciding with the alignment of tectonic plates facing ENE-SSW.

The contrasting landscape along the approximate 13 km of the trail is distinct, reflecting mankind’s adaptation to disparate environmental conditions. If the somewhat flat areas of the valley fostered a dispersed settlement pattern, where only historically significant centres stand out, as is the case with Lanheses, as you ascend in altitude, you will notice that the scenery and terrain changes influencing the agglomeration of rural settlements and the farming systems. 

Even though many of the documented archaeological findings discovered relatively close to this route are not visible nor visitable in loco, the territory has been densely populated since protohistory mainly due to the abundance of mineral resources in the area.

Evidence of mining activities dating back to the Iron Age have been found in Lanheses, Vila Mou and Meixedo. There are also various Roman mines, among which Bouça do Moises, Cobalta (locally known as Cova Alta), Rasas and Olas.

The vestiges of Roman settlements in the place of Olas, where fragments of Late Roman ceramic were found, are most likely related to the mining of tin ore in the area. Ola was thus the “city of the Moors” according to local oral lore.

A protohistoric settlement is documented as having existed in Vila Mou, located on a low elevation just over 50 metres in altitude, on the right bank of the Ribeiro de Rio Tinto. This Iron Age settlement was occupied during the Late Roman imperial period, later developing into a city of regional importance, having perdured the Suevo-visigothic and medieval period. Vestiges found within the proximity of the current parish church indicate the existence of a Roman town. There are vestiges of a Roman road, from the same period, travelling from Vila Mou to the Lima river.

The Meixedo and Vila Mou mining camp is found where the Seixo river and Rio Tinto stream end. More than three dozen placer mining concessions were grated. These were mined during different periods throughout the 20th century until the 1980s, when the main extracted ores included tungsten, tin and iron.

It is more than probable that Roman mining sites existed in the same locations where deposits from granitic aplite-pegmatite veins were found between the 1920s and 1950s, mined mainly for cassiterite. These mines were either open-pits or found underground, as suggested by some of the local place-names, more specifically in Meixedo where the place of “Mata das Cortas” and “Vale Covas” provide evidence of the antiquity of these primitive mines. Nonetheless, older vestiges would have been moved and destroyed by the intense extraction of minerals in the previous century. 

As the climb continues, halfway up on the right bank of the Areeiro river, a tributary of the Seixo river, a remarkable collection of Roman coins was found in 1877. The collection included 102 coins in pristine condition, acquired and sold among private individuals. The discovery of so many coins can only be justified by the development of the mining industry in the surrounding areas, the only industry capable of generating such a concentration of wealth at the time. The chronology of the coins corroborates the most recent hypothesis that Roman mining in NW Portugal began at the end of the 1st century B.C. and continued well into the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Useful Documents

Descarregue aqui o PEQ 2 - Percurso Equestre Lanheses- Montaria (Serra de Arga).

23-10-2018 kmz 11 KB Download


Painel de Início PEQ 2 - Percurso Equestre Lanheses - Montaria (Serra de Arga)

25-10-2018 pdf 4 MB Download