• Archaeological heritage Archaeological heritage

    As many as 750 archaeological sites have been found among the 20 municipalities comprising the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, according to inventory records compiled by the Balearic Islands Government from 1990 to 1995. This figure may have risen following the discoveries made in recent years. Nevertheless, the limited accessibility and the scope of the area in question make it difficult to carry out an exhaustive cataloging, which would require complete, well-planned research. Analysis of [...]

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BUILT LANDSCAPE

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Dry stone features

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The most outstanding construction technique relating to the Tramuntana Cultural Landscape is dry-stone walling. It is characterized by the use of left-over stone from fields – meaning stone that does not come from quarries – worked using no mortar or cement of any kind, and used to build different types of walls and many other constructional items, such as paths, huts, bridges and buildings.

It is very widely used in the Mediterranean basin, from the east of the Iberian peninsula (Castellón, Tarragona), to the French region of the Mediterranean Alps (between Cannes and Menton), Liguria in Italy (Cinque Terre), Sicily (Pantelleria, Lipari), Greece (Crete, Andros, Patmos) and Cyprus. In Mallorca, and more particularly in the Tramuntana Mountains, this technique was historically used to construct agricultural systems, the greatest exponent of which are the fields of hillside terraces (called marjades on the island), which are a way of staggering the mountainsides. This is an indispensable way of preparing new agricultural land, using only the stones on hand.

Dry-stone constructions normally use materials from the immediate surroundings that blend perfectly into the natural surroundings, almost becoming a continuance of it.

Mallorcan dry-stone landscapes are mainly the result of the work of a group of artisans who specialize in this building technique, that is dry-stone wallers or hillside terrace builders (called margers): a trade that is documented on the island as far back as the 15th century. Whilst they did not manage to form an independent guild within the complex labour system of traditional Mallorcan society, dry-stone wallers were a group of workers with a well-defined range of tools, techniques and learning processes, differentiated from those of other building trades, such as stonemasons.

This trade, in decline since the 1960s, has been recovered thanks to the work of different institutions, including the Consell de Mallorca, through the creation in 1986 of a training school called the Escola de Margers or dry-stone wallers´ school. This has forestalled the disappearance of the profession, by having the technique taught by the last margers who were still active.

The hundreds of kilometres of dry-stone walls that literally line the sides of the Tramuntana mountain range are one of the most notable, unique characteristics of its cultural landscape, since they are a symbol of the historic human imprint made on the region, as well as representing a highpoint in man´s relationship with his environment. These terraced areas are linked to the water supply systems, and together they act as the framework for the productive areas of large farming estates (possessions) and small properties in areas close to villages. Villages like Banyalbufar and Estellencs are also built on a base of dry-stone terraces, without which settlement there would have been impossible.

Furthermore, a large part of the Tramuntana area has undergone significant modifications in its physiognomy due to human interest in preventing surface runoff from damaging farmland and eroding or flooding it.

The following are the main dry-stone features of the Tramuntana area:

  1. Hillside terraces and hillside terrace walls
  2. boundary walls of plots of land and properties
  3. mountain paths
  4. olive grove shelters
  5. farm shelters
  6. charcoal-making ovens and charcoal makers´ huts
  7. limekilns
  8. other items of infrastructure: threshing floors, artificial piles of stone in the form of galeres and clapers, aixoplucs (shelters) or hunting systems called colls de tords.