Since 2011, 6 milestones have been identified on three sites along the route of the Roman road that goes from Ibañeta to Longida/Longuida: Mugarriluze (Aurizberri/Espinal), Zandueta (Artzibar/Arce Valley) and Ibañeta (Orreaga/Roncesvalles). These landmarks were placed at one-mile intervals (millia passum), i.e. every 1,481 metres, informing travellers who were passing along it. A variety of information could be engraved or painted on them, such as the distance to the next mansio or civitas or the name of the emperor who had built or repaired the road.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Bibliography Information about this Roman road and the milestones
Video Video about the recovery of the Esteribar milestone
Another anepigraphic milestone was discovered away from the route followed by the road in 2020, in this case in the nearby Esteribar Valley, near to the village of Setoain. (Video of the recovery of this milestone)
MILESTONES OF MUGARRILUZE
Some members of Aranzadi Society of Sciences’ team studied the route of the Iter XXXIV Roman road that connected Astúrica with Burdigala (now Astorga and Bordeaux), in the basin of the Urrobi River and the Ibañeta pass. In this setting, Juan Mari Martínez Txoperena located three milestones, two of which bear inscriptions. The latter two served a propaganda function, as they praised the emperors of that period.
One of the whole milestones that was discovered is from the period of rule of Emperor Constantius Chlorus (305-306 AD). This piece was carved from a block of local Triassic sandstone, pink in colour, chiselled, rectangular-shaped and with the original surface reserved for engraving the inscription. Rustic capitals were used for the engraving, in a slapdash but clear style. It uses the short form, typical of the Lower Empire.
Another is from the period of Emperor Aurelian (275 AD) and it was found whole, like the one above. It is also made of pink Triassic sandstone, but in the shape of a pseudo-elliptical cylinder. The engraving was done sloppily with rustic capitals and there are no gaps in the writing. The shallowness of the letters might suggest that paint may have been added to make it legible from a distance.
The milestones are displayed in the town hall of Aurizberri/Espinal, in a free, permanent exhibition that is always open to the public. To complete the exhibition, there is a map showing the road’s route and some Roman materials that were found in the area (for further information about the exhibition, click on the Mugarriluze milestones).
MILESTONES OF ZANDUETA
In 2014, what would turn out to be the lower part of a milestone was discovered in the portico of Zandueta Church (Artzibar/Arce Valley), next to the wall of the old cemetery. Only the lower part of the shaft remains and no writing has been identified, so the period to which it belongs is unknown. The piece is made of cream-coloured sandstone, with a cylindrical column and oval-shaped. A small relief can be seen in the central part of the shaft. It is currently located at the entrance to the town hall of Artzibar/Arce Valley, in the village of Nagore.
MILESTONES OF IBAÑETA
In October 2014, while fieldwork was being carried out to verify the route of the road between Orreaga/Roncesvalles and Ibañeta, on land containing schist and quartzite, a limestone was identified that protruded 20 cm above the ground (at the side of the NA-135 highway that connects Iruñea/Pamplona with Luzaide/Valcarlos). The research that was commenced there resulted in 2 additional new milestones being found on the site, below the sediments that had built up on the old roadbed.
The first of these was documented as a whole, i.e. it still has the shaft and a small part of the text. It has an irregular, parallelepiped shape and the base may originate from the limestone and marl outcrop area which is a kilometre to the south of Orrega/Roncesvalles. The writing is largely eroded. However, having lost most of the epigraph, the letters are believed to be rustic capitals, at least in the part that remains. Of particular note is the asterisk that has been identified at the bottom of the inscription, probably made using a burin. This latter technique has also been identified on the Aurelian milestone in Mugarriluze (Aurizberri/Espinal).
The second milestone belongs to the period of the initial reign of Emperor Galerius (305 AD) and consists of the central part of the cylindrical shaft. It stands on a pink Triassic sandstone base and originates from an outcrop located 7 km to the south of which it was found. Although the inscription has only been partially identified, it was sufficient to date it and interpret the engraved text. The latter is on display at the Exhibition Centre in Luzaide/Valcarlos (for further information about the exhibition click on 778 Luzaide/Valcarlos Exhibition Centre).
In 1953, the researcher Luis Vázquez de Parga discovered a Roman altar in Ibañeta, one of the first pieces of physical evidence of the Romanisation of the area. The following words can be seen on it:
It is speculated that it bears the inscription Soli [inv(icto)] or Soli [aug(usto)]. What we know for certain is that it related to sun worship.