Mills in Altoaragón - harinero

Benabarre

Benabarre is situated in the Ribagorza region on the junction of the N-123 (coming from Barbastro) and the N-230 (Lerida - France). A bit to the North of the crossroads you will find a flat area suitable as a parking lot. From there a path will lead you down inside the Barranco de San Medardo and towards the mill (and a popular climbing wall).

Pictures: 02.IV.2013

(1) The mill below the canal and pressure pit.

The website of Benabarre (visited in December 2018) spends not more than a few words on the mill. According to them the mill was ● a grist mill (harinero) and ● only in use until the first years of the 20th century ● but may very well date from the Middle Ages, or even earlier.

The mill was restored in 2007. That is why the construction looks so clean and solid.

Though nothing of the equipment survived, there are some interesting points to have a closer look at.

The canal (1) arrives high above the mill. It is built on the rock face and looks solid like a bailey. The tower like structure is the upper part of the pressure pit. The lower part of this cubo is carved out of the rock — something we haven't seen elsewhere but in Alavés.

(2) Façade of the mill.
(3) Inside the cárcavo.

Before the restoration only what was carved out of the rockface was preserved (). There was close to no trace of the small construc­tion we can visit today. It is difficult to know how truthful the restoration has been done. I consider it unlikely that the original con­struction was half open to the outside (2). The window looking out over the restitution chan­nel is exceptionally narrow and so high above the floor that its only function could only have been to bring some light inside. It is not possible to look through it to judge the situation outside.
The cárcavo (3) opens with a rather nice parabolic arch — I have never before seen this in our study region. Nowadays no wheels are present in the cárcavo, but it is said () that there were two, which I find difficult to believe.

Inside there are two shallow stone vessels (4) which are reminiscent more of an oil mill than of a grist mill. The same applies to the decommissio­ned stones forgotten in the restitution channel (2, 5).

(4) Weird stone vessels.
(5) Old puddingstone.

These stones are made of conglomerate (5). Not what I expect for a grain mill but rather for the roller stones of an olive crusher. This also fits with the stone's eye which is square in my opinion.
One final remark: on old maps () first one (1932) and then two powerlines start from a spot at (about) the same place as the mill. Could it be that this mill at some time also generated electricity? Or was a separate power station situated nearby?
 

 Elena Fortuño — Las obras en el molino de Benabarre sacan a la luz varios acueductos.
Diario del AltoAragón - Domingo, 16 de abril de 2006; p 11.
 Instituto Geográfico Nacional — serie MTN50 folio 289 of the 1929 and 1950 editions.

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