Restoration work at the recently discovered 13th century wall, below the wall of a 17th and 18th century monastery. Photo credit: Santi Burgos via El Pais.

Archaeologists often joke that when they find three stones in a row, they’ve found a wall, but there can be no doubt about this one: it’s massive, has seven towers and its construction spans more than 500 years during which the region was occupied by Visigoths, Muslims and Christians.

Talamanca de Jarama is a small Spanish town, just 50 miles north of Madrid. Today it may be fairly quiet, but back in the medieval period, it was a strategic point in the battles between Visigoths, Muslims and Christians.

The discovery, which has been called the most important in the region this year, was made when restoration work was being carried out on a wall built by Catholic monks in the 18th century to protect their monastery’s farm.

The restorers soon realised that its foundations were built on top of another, much older wall which had remained hidden underground.

Talamanca’s first defensive wall was built in AD 860, on the order of Muhammad I, Emir of Cordoba. The second arrived in the 10th century, and was bigger and enclosed an even larger area. Later, in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Christians conquered the enclave and built their own wall – the one that has now been found.

Archaeologists were surprised to discover that its length was defended with seven turrets, each placed exactly 21m from the next, which survived up to 2m high in places.

A piece of Visigothic carving, found in the wall. Photo credit: Santi Burgos, via El Pais.

As if the wall didn’t already carry enough history, four pieces of richly carved stone were spotted in among the wall’s construction, from the rubble of a Visigothic building whose rubble was re-used in the wall’s later construction. The Visigoths had occupied the area before the 9th century.

The wall is now being conserved and restored, and will eventually become part of an open air museum.

Share this article:

Want to do some archaeology?

Crowdfund a dig and make a real discovery!

Pledge now

Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

Full Author Profile +