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Pyrene, or Piri, the main character in my story, is taken to a mountain-top retreat to learn the arts of healing, midwifery, and divining.
The retreat is on the top of a mountain where earlier, 4,000 to 2,000 years before her time, people built a sacred edifice to house one of their prominent dead. They knew the sacredness of this place then. A thousand years after Piri spend nearly a year and a half here, Christian monks came and had hermitages built, and in time there came again to be a village.
Again a village? Yes, in Piri's time there were houses and sacred places built, there were terraces sculpted to allow food to be grown, and someone had to tend sheep, goats, cattle and horses for the holy men and women who came here to teach, and the pupils they had brought from far and wide, discovered to have gifts of one sort or another by local leaders, both civil and religious.
In fact it was impossible to discern a difference between civil and religious leaders except among the soldiery. There was likely to be no religious teacher in charge of organized slaughter and other mayhem, although there were plenty of religious leaders fomenting such behavior to create heroes, provide offerings of animals and slaves to the gods when needed, and to increase general prosperity.
The burial place from thousands of years before Piri's time is now called the Dolmen of Tella:
Dolmen are found all over Europe. They received the remains of important and highly revered persons, who were buried with their most personal belongings at times, preciousness depending on rank.
The dirt cover has been weathered away, and whatever was precious in the tomb was stolen before even that happened.
Dolmens of very important or highly revered people were taken to a mountain like this to be buried at a high elevation. Their tomb, if it opened and the person came out, was designed to allow a good view. Views don't get better than this!
Just another twist in the modern, but very narrow, road, and we are at the "modern" (mostly dating back to the Middle Ages) village, its church, and the three elaborate hermitages in the highlands to the west where terraces were maintained to allow foodstuffs to be grown. This was also the practice in Piri's time, about 190 BC:
Green grass in the Fall comes with this higher elevation, which gets enough rain to support pasture almost year 'round.
Grain and hay has to be cut and stockpiled against winter snows, of course.
This high mountain offered protection from casual passers-by. It stands almost like an island, surrounded by steep, deep slopes on almost all sides, and with its path for humans, carts and animals being extremely treacherous and tortuous.
The view to the south was the most important to keep an eye on, it is from that direction that both Carthaginian scouts and Roman forces have come near this mountain. They interacted with the villages in the Rio Cinca valley below, who never told them anyhting existed on this mountain. The path that led up there was dismissed as just another transhumance trail, and they were believed.
The view to the northwest was equally forbidding:
The view to the East did not give rise to much worry either:
To the North there was a relatively easy trail away from the mountain, but the only place it went was into higher mountains which were full of very difficult and dangerous places and not readily accessible from the valley below:
So, the place was as tranquil and safe as could be. The nearest village lay by the river Cinca in the near flatlands below:
And from the shiny part of the river in the photo above, the mountain where Piri dwelt looked like this:
Even though we know that on that mountain there are several sizable buildings, it is very difficult to see:
The next page will show some of the scenery Piri was, no doubt, familiar with. Then the following two pages will show what is here now.
Second "Near Ordesa National Park" page
Third "Near Ordesa National Park" page
Fourth "Near Ordesa National Park" page
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