Archaeology in the Western Algarve   Griffinl.gif (2498 bytes)

Field trip on Saturday, March 23rd 2002
A trip looking at the Dinosaur footprints in Salema, visiting the chapel of St. Anthony in Vila do Bispo, the menhirs at Padrão. In the afternoon a visit a site near Odeaxére.

The day started with a group of around 40 to 45 people meeting at the Atlantico Beach Bar on Salema Beach - only to find that the tide was in, and one set of the footprints were underwater!

Unconformity between the tilted lower Cretateous and overlying rocks

Having walked too far down the beach, the above Geological Unconformity was noted. Luckily someone knew where the group of footprints were and they were duly noted. For more information on these fossils please visit "Dinosaur Footprints"

The group on the beach

The Eastern group of footprints

The Chapel of St. Anthony - Ermida de Santo António

Led by João Vilhenho, the cars set off from Vila do Bispo down the old main road. Where the side turning leads under the EN125 to go to the Menhirs , we took the right hand fork into the countryside south-west of Vila do Bispo for about a kilometre and a half.

Ermida de Sto. António

There are records of a chapel here dating back to the 15th Century - Prince Henry the Navigator instructed a Pero Lourenço to stop using the building as a workshop! So it must have been in a semi-abandoned state then. It was donated to the Franciscan Monastery of St. Vincent in 1520.
Restored towards the end of the 18th Century, when possibly the main body of the chapel was built, it again became semi-abandoned. Last year (2001) a group of Ceramics Students and the community of Vila do Bispo decided to repair and redecorate this little building. The Azulejos (blue and white tiles) are replicas, made by the students, based on those found on the site, which dated to the 17th Century.

The altar and small vault

A tile panel

Originally this building may only have been a small oratory, or shrine, on the route from Vila do Bispo to the monastery at Cape St. Vincent. It lies within the ancient parish of Santa Maria do Cabo - St. Mary of the Cape. This village stood on the Cerro dos Mouros - Hill of the Moors, and was destroyed by Sir Francis Drake during his raid on Sagres in 1587. It was never rebuilt and Moorish and Mediaeval remains have been found there. More often than not, a dedication to St. Mary was given to churches built on the site of, or converted from, a mosque. 
This abandoned village - and its parish church - may have been the site of the Chapel of the Crows, believed to have been the resting place of St. Vincent from the 8th to the 12th Century. During those years the Chapel of the Crows was a place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims, before it was destroyed by a Muslim Fanatic.
The boundaries of the Parish of Sta. Maria do Cabo appear to have been marked in two concentric circles, the outermost about 1.2Kms in radius, by both the Christian chapel of St. Anthony, and Pagan Menhirs, including "Menhir 1" and possibly "Menhir 8" of the Menhir tour

A "Boundary Menhir" with the 
"Five Wounds of Christ"

View to the NNW of the "Boundary Menhir"


Menhirs appear to have served at least three different functions in the years since their erection - as boundary markers, as track signals -... and as a handy source of building material.

     Archaeology in the Western Algarve  - On to Part 2

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