Stonehenge of Sevilla saved

LAST UPDATED: 30 Mar, 2009 @ 14:35
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Stonehenge of Sevilla saved

A “magnificent decision” to save Spain’s oldest Copper age site from developers

By Jon Clarke in Sevilla

A PREHISTORIC burial site, dubbed the Stonehenge of Sevilla, is to be saved from becoming a supermarket.

The Junta has overruled plans to build a commercial centre, an old people’s home and houses over the 4,500 year old site.

Describing the settlement as a “cathedral from prehistoric times”, the Junta has agreed to instead declare the area an Archaeological Site and build a visitors centre to promote the attraction.

Said to be the largest Copper Age settlement in Spain, the site in Castilleja de Guzman was declared a Site of Specific Cultural Interest (BIC) in 2003.

Covering an area of 1.6 hectares, archaeologists have so far unearthed five dolmens and over 22 burial chambers nearby. Each has yielded human remains, as well as jewellery and earthenware.

Now the Junta’s Culture Department has pledged 250,000 euros to help restore the main dolmen, known as Montelirio, and build an interpretation centre.

“This is a great victory,” said history professor Leonardo Garcia Sanjuan from Sevilla University. “The Montelirio dolmen was built as a prehistoric religious site and is the equivalent of a cathedral. It has architectural, cultural and symbolic importance to the area.

“In their day they had enormous importance. In them they held burial services, commemoration services and they were also visited by pilgrims.”

But, this wasn’t enough to sway developer Grupo Jale, who continued with their plans to build an old people’s home, commercial centre and homes alongside the dolmen.

They began clearing the site last year and, according to local protest groups, left the dolmens in a bad condition due to damage by heavy machinery.

President of local pressure group Association in Defence of the Aljarafe Juan Antonio Morales, described the decision as a “magnificent decision”.

He added: “In a strange sort of way it was good news that the developers moved in and helped to excavate the dolmens as now we know they are there officially to protect them.”

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