Mills in Alto Aragón - harinero


Agüero belongs to the Hoya de Huesca region and is situated about 50 km north-west of Huesca, capital of the province. From Huesca take the main road toward Ayerbe (A-132) and then further to Pamplona. After quite a while you will find Agüero and its Iglesia de Santiago signposted to the left. From there stay on the narrow main road until you reach the bridge with bus shelter just below the village. Drop your vehicle. Now, walk back towards the gravel road which longs the Barranco de la Fuente del Piojo (Spanisch for a louse). Follow the track to the south and you'll soon reach kind of a barn. Turn right and again right in order to stay on the right track along the barranco. Continue until you reach a small construction next to the road. Now find a path that's going down into the barranco. The path will broaden and you'll soon arrive at the mill (1). Distance from the start is about 1.5 km. You may choose to walk the whole itinerary down in the ravine but the track isn't always very clear and at times overgrown with thorns and nettles. It is more fun though.

Pictures: 18.VIII.2016

(1) The mill as seen from the Barranco del Cubo.

(2) Aerial photograph — © PNOA-2018,
Segments of the scale bare are 5 m each.
The construction stands between the Barranco de San Felices (marked on older maps as Bco de Artaso) and the Barranco del Cubo near the con­fluence of the two (2). Though we couldn't trace the canal back to one of the rivulets, water was suppo­sedly taken from the former, which is a trifle wider.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any aerial photo­graphs of the 1927 flights of the Río Ebro basin of this area, but photos from the 1950s show that large parts of the roof then already had collapsed. Photos from 1973 show that the roof had disappeared complete­ly. There were some tall trees on the edge of the mill pond and along the restitution canal, but the inside of the pond and of the former buildings was still completely free of vegetation.

At the time of our visit the situation was very similar to the aerial photograph of 2008 (2): the space between the walls was completely overgrown with shrubs and there were also many young trees and shrubs in the pond. In April 2011, members of the local Asociación Santa Quiteria de Agüero spent some time cleaning up the mill and its surroun­dings, but when we were there in 2016, it was clear that this beautiful and much needed work was to be repeated urgently.

(3) The mill pond with the walls converging to the pressure pit (5).

The huge mill pond (2, 3) is undoubtedly the queen piece of this site and few other embalses in our study area can measure up to it. More than half of the pond —the northern part furthest from the mill— is lined with a sturdy earthen wall. Closer to the mill, the earthen wall changes into solid stone walls of fine masonry. They are about 20 m long and gradually widen, until they are over a meter thick where they meet in the pressure pit (4, 5 cubo).
The upper layers of the western wall have shifted a little inward, perhaps due to the pressure of the earth on the outside. About 3 meters from the north­ern end, this wall makes a bend to the east (you might discern it in pict 2 at segments 6 and 7 from the top of the scale bar). The east wall does not show this change of direction, but this wall instead merges into the cubo in an elongated S-bend (4).

(4) Pressure pit with the waved wall of the pond.
(5) Pressure pit with inlet (saetín).

The cárcavo (6, 7) is still in good condition and is formed by an barrel vault made of carefully cut stones. The lower part of the saetín, the botana (8) is made of metal sheet that is fixed to the wooden planks that close the pressure tube. The tajadera to regulate the water flow is also still present.
The axle and the rueda (the wheel, 7) are both also made of metal. Despite the rather difficult path and the distance from the village, this mill still suffers from vandalism. The wheel was sawn off the axle with a grinding wheel and dragged to the exit of the cárcavo where it was left. Maybe someone has planned to come and pick up the piece?

(6) Cárcavo with window.
(7) Cárcavo with rodete.
(8) Botana.

(9) The mill proper with at left the window over the cárcavo (6) and the wall of the pond towering above.

(10) The construction counts two rooms leaning against the pond.
The workplace is at right. The person is on the bank of the Bco del Cubo.
Picture taken from the tallest wall in (9).

The construction counts two rooms (10) leaning against the eastern and the southern looking sides of the mill pond.

The first space (10, left) features an entrance, which is a bit narrower than the entrance of the workplace, and a window opening in its wall looking to the East. This space may have served as a living, or rest quarter for the miller.

The workshop (9, 10 right) was completely invaded by shrub­bery, but with some effort it was possible to get through to the deepest section above the cár­cavo where we could still see the couple of stones. The runner stone (12, volandera) has been pulled from its place and broken in two. And here too, metal parts (axles and ribbon wheels) have been sawn off and left behind. Is scrap iron in these parts so sought after?

(11) Wheel axle with clamping ring.
(12) A broken mill stone.

The entrance to the workshop is slightly wider than that of the living area. The opening is crowned by a large lintel stone resting on corbels. The builders of the mill signed their work on this lintel. We get the impression that the stonemason went to work unprepared and also made a little miscalculation. He has cut out some letters only superficially, put others together, and the last line is pressed against the bottom edge of the lintel with characters much smaller than the rest. This all together makes it a bit difficult to decipher the text.
This is our best guess:

«NMAUREI» must be the surname of the second Juan, but it is not clear what we should read exactly. There are many more inscriptions scattered across the lintel and corbels, but they are all of recent origin probably.

(13) Lintel of the entrance of the workplace of the mill (at left in 1).

: They have built this construction. Juan Xi[me]nez miller and Juan Nmaurei(?). 1645.

More about this mill in: A la búsqueda de molinos: Un molino en Agüero
el Gurrión VIII.2020, N° 160, p42–45 — Download PDF (Spanish)

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