Diumenge, 03 de març del 2024

Excaven un forn de reducció de ferro al bosc de Virós i el reprodueixen a escala 1:1

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La Vall Ferrera, com el seu nom indica, està íntimament relacionada amb l’explotació i la producció de ferro. L’activitat siderúrgica a la vall es remunta als darrers segles de l’Imperi romà. D’aquest període s’han documentat una vintena de forns de reducció del mineral de ferro datats entre el segle III i mitjans del segle VI. Ara, l’arqueòleg Òscar Augé, per encàrrec del Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, ha excavat un forn de reducció i l’ha reproduït a escala 1:1 al bosc de Virós. El bon estat de conservació, les grans dimensions i la possibilitat de més forns a tocar ha sorprès Augé i fan d’aquest jaciment un cas únic al país donat que no hi ha referents similars tan grans en una zona de producció de ferro no associada a un poblat.

 

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Si bé aquest jaciment havia estat documentat per un equip de recerca de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) entre els anys 2003 i 2004, fins aquest estiu no s’hi havia fet cap excavació.

 

Han estat els arqueòlegs Òscar Augé i Jose Miguel Gallego els encarregats de la intervenció arqueològica i documentar les restes d’un d’aquests forns. Es tracta de la cubeta, on es dipositava el ferro al final del procés, i que estava excavada directament al terreny natural, i un petit mur de pedra que la rodejava, damunt del qual s’hi aixecaria la xemeneia del forn i que era per on es carregava el mineral i el carbó vegetal, i permetia assolir la temperatura adequada pel procés de reducció, que oscil·lava entre 900 i 1300 °C.

 

Augè ha explicat que tot i que caldrà corroborar-ho en properes campanyes, intueixen dos forns més a pocs metres de l’àrea excavada aquest estiu. A pocs metres de la zona on s’ha excavat el forn de reducció també s’hi intueixen cabanes. Es podria tractar de llocs on vivia la gent que treballava el ferro. De confirmar-ho es tractaria d’un jaciment de “certa entitat” donat que comptaria amb la zona de treball i la zona d’habitatge al mig de la muntanya (uns 1.700 metres). Els arqueòlegs creuen que devia ser una activitat estacional, que només es podria fer, segurament, durant els mesos de primavera i estiu.

Les restes de l’estructura del forn de reducció de ferro ja excavat, i un possible segon forn en segon terme, al municipi d’Alins

Les restes d’aquests antics tallers de reducció tenen una especial rellevància des d’un punt de vista arqueològic ja que a l’època antiga en el nord-est peninsular, hi ha un buit de coneixement sobre aquesta activitat fora de contextos d’hàbitat. L’arqueòleg Augè ha explicat que “no hi ha referents similars” a Catalunya amb una concentració tan gran de zones de producció no associats a una població. Això no obstant, ha assegurat que hi ha “gran similitud” amb altres jaciments anàlegs, localitzats en aquest cas en territoris propers del Pirineu francès, com el que durant la dècada dels anys 1990 es va excavar a Lercoul, a la veïna vall francesa de Vic de Sòs, a l’Arieja, amb cronologies també del segle III dC.

 

En el moment de la descoberta, fa uns vint anys, d’aquests enclavaments arqueològics, definits per petits monticles dins el bosc, de formes i dimensions variables entre els 100-300 m², coberts de vegetació arbustiva, i formats per escòries de ferro, gran quantitat de carbons i fragments d’argila cuita de la paret dels forns, s’hi van practicar petits sondeigs en alguns d’ells per obtenir mostres per datar mitjançant la tècnica del Carboni 14, fet que va permetre situar-los entre els segles III/IV i VI/VII dC. No obstant això, en aquests abocadors fins ara no s’havia realitzat mai cap excavació que permetés localitzar els forns que els van generar, saber com eren, i quants n’hi podia haver en cadascun d’ells.

Vista frontal de la reproducció a escala 1:1 del forn excavat, feta al costat del jaciment original, al bosc de Virós, al municipi d’Alins.

Ara, a falta dels resultats de les analítiques que han de confirmar les datacions concretes del forn, s’espera confirmar en properes campanyes arqueològiques la presència de més forns de reducció a la zona i la zona d’habitatges. El propòsit final, un cop finalitzades les diferents intervencions arqueològiques, és poder consolidar els vestigis per tal de fer-los visitables, i que la gent que passegi pel sender senyalitzat de la Costa dels Meners puguin veure’ls.

 

La Vall Ferrera té un gran patrimoni siderúrgic, concentrat molt especialment en el bosc de Virós, que abasta unes 2.000 hectàrees d’alt valor paisatgístic i natural. Ara tota la zona es podria definir també com un enorme jaciment arqueològic amb restes de diverses èpoques relacionades amb l’explotació i aprofitament del ferro.

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