Harrespil



Harrespil / hareʂpil / is the Basque name, which can be translated as “circle of stones”, given to small cromlechs that abound on the Pyrenean reliefs especially in the Basque Country. They are also called baratz, word meaning “garden” and traditionally applied to prehistoric necropolises.

Collected in necropolises of 5 to 20 specimens, these funerary monuments date from the Late Bronze Age (from -1200 approximately). Their construction continued during the Iron Age. This type of burial is distinguished from the previous by the use of cremation, typical of the sorothaptic movements. More spectacular in its arrangement than in the size of the stones, the harrespil consists of a circle of stones surrounding a receptacle for the ashes. This circle consists of vertical slabs or a wall, assembly of small nested slabs forming a kind of enclosure. Its diameter is variable, often of the order of 5 to. Buried inside, a receptacle is arranged to collect the ashes. Some harristers have a rectangular lauze chest, about one meter by, consisting of four side slabs and a cover slab. There are in total up to 8 different types of rockrose.

These monuments coexisted with larger tumuli, also housing an incineration rock, but surrounded by loose stones. Their architectures are sometimes combined, as in Zaho II where the harrespil is buried under a tumulus, delimited by a second stone circle. Others, such as Millagate IV, have only the outer circle forming a large (approximately) harris, the central part of which is covered with a mass of earth.

The cremation residues correspond to adult men. If the Millagate IV tumbler contains the remains of an entire individual, the others are at best a handful or two of ash. We also note that these monuments are in mountains, on ridges at altitude on average, and not near the villages. We deduce that it is more epitaphs erected in honor of personalities, than authentic burials. The spread of these harrisils, from the Basque Pyrenees to Andorra, and their continued existence until shortly before Romanization, suggests that these funerary rituals remained the mark of the sovereigns of the Vascone countries. Their builders are the same ones who held the gaztelu zahar and other oppida of the piedmont Pyrenean, of which they are perhaps the sublimation.

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