Mills in Altoaragón - harinero


Lacabezonada is a village in La Fueva (Sobrarbe region) situated on the road between L'Ainsa and Campo. Coming from the main road, take the lower road that longs the village and drive to the far end were the road ends on private property. A bit earlier a gravel road branches off to the right and into the valley. Drop your vehicle and walk down and you'll soon cross a rivulet. Now take the left branch and follow the track until the valley widens and there is a branch to the right (about 400m from the bridge). The track is a steep climb in its first part but then will gradually lead you down to the mill after about another 500m.

Pictures: 29.XII.2011, 22.III.2016

(1) The mill with the Sierra Ferrera behind

Hidden in the landscape at the foot of the Sierra Ferrera and the Peña Montañesa, this is probably, in the wide region, the best example of an early type of watermill. More primitive than all the other village mills both in its waterworks — with open chute — and in its grain feeder system — with a hopper hanging excentrically. And better preserved than the one other similar mill in Ainielle because the installation here is more complete.
However things are deteriorating rapidly. At the ti­me of our first visit in 2011, the con­struction was rather well off with only some small leaks, nothing serious yet. In 2012 the local group Los Molinos de La Fueva mantled the mill with a huge canvas over its roof and supports were placed under the beams. It didn't help much, because the cover was soon blown away. In 2016 we saw the blue sky through the roof. If nothing can be done soon, La Fueva will lose this marvel. That would be a real shame.

(2) The mill — notice the steep and open canal top right

(3) Engravings on the door — bigger image
The mill is a humble construction (2) with one single room only. There is a door opening to the East and a small window at the customary place above the cárcavo (12) looking to the South.

The wooden lintel above the door shows the year 1831. The door itself is covered with numerous en­gravings (3). Many As and incomplete Años, so­me initials (typical behaviour of visitors of the wrong kind), difficult to interpret strokes and also one relati­vely clear inscription Año 1920 Molino Arinero.

The doorjambs are from stone and they show pro­tec­tive crosses but very few, nothing like the many in Foradada del Toscar nearby, or Abellada.

(4) Interior of the mill; the pole left is the stop device (paradera) — 2016

About half of the single room is taken by the plat­form (4, 5) opposite the entrance. The platform, which is rather low, claimes about two thirds of the width of the room. The short side (5) directed to the window is hollow to give room to the flour box (harinal) which catches the fresh meal.
Next to the platform is kind of a bench made of reti­red mill stones (5). They are solid stones, have a diameter of 100 cm and they feature a sickle dress pattern (9). Given their size they could very well origi­nate from the quarry of Arasanz where we've found prints of the right dimensions. Analysis of the stone is needed to be sure.

(5) Platform with stonecasing, swivel hopper and flour box — 2011

(6) feed-shoe - canaleta
The mill proper is a splendid and unique piece. All the other small mills in the region have their feeding hopper, an inverted pyramid (tolva) hanging in a wooden frame (caballete) placed in the center of the stone case and the grain is fed to the stones falling through a much smaller hopper of iron (see f.e. in Villalangua).

The installation at hand is of an earlier type with a tolva which hangs out of the center of the stones. The grain is fed from the hopper into a feed-shoe (canaleta) (6). We have not seen a swivel hopper at any other place in our study range, not even in Ainielle —the feeding mechanism there is mounted on the wall. This is a unique piece, apart from the replica in Los Molinos. The hopper is mounted on three points. Two arms are fitted to the axle (5) and support the hopper from below. From the upper ridge of the tolva a curved piece of wood is protru­ding (8) and fits into a slit of the axle. A pin keeps the hopper tight.

Hidden behind the tolva there is a small triangular opening in the wall facing the North. Through this opening the miller could keep an eye on the chute (11) and the water before it entered the cárcavo.


(9) Decommissioned mill stone: ∅ 100 cm
(10) Spillway with wooden doors

The mill is on the still very young Río de la Nata, which on its short run to the Mediano Lake powered a few mills more (e.g. Fuendecampo, Fosado, Sam­per). The canal can be traced from the mill back to its origin next to a lovely waterfall. A few meters befo­re the canal is cut off by the sand road there is a spill­way (10). There are some beams with grooves for wooden doors — one of those sits in place, another one lays inside (4).
Presumably () the small waterwheel (visible in 4, 5) could be mounted in the outflow. This was done in order to sharpen sickles. An identical device can be seen laying around in the mill of Fuendecampo.

The canal ends in an open chute, several meters long (11) and composed of wooden beams, which are fixed to each other by a scarf joint reinforced with a nail.

(11) Last stretch of the canal: an open chute.
(12) South facing wall with cárcavo.

The cárcavo is a must see — the Michelin Guide would say Vaut le détour— and justifies the small risk of getting wet.

The mouth of the cárcavo is rather narrow for its height (12) and the arch is not entirely symmetrical.

Inside, its section is triangular (13, 15) and it looks like maximum use was made of the shape of the natural rock! It must have been a huge task to pierce the shafts for the axletree of the wheel, and for the lightening (levador) and the stopping mechanisms.

The rodete and the árbol (wheel and its axle, 13) are made of wood. The wheel is really something: it is a solid wooden dish made of planks (14). The blades are wedged boards driven into slits in the dish. I ha­ve never seen this kind of rodete elsewhere in the wide region!

Notice the unusually numerous beams which are present in the cárcavo (12). They form the braking system, the paradera (15 - 17). Because of the open chute there is no botana with a valve with which the miller could cut the flow when the tolva became empty or a stop was needed for any other reason.

(14) The wheel: a solid dish with blades inserted into slits.

The paradera is shown in pict. 15. First we have the beam which has one end in the chute and the other end hinged on a beam coming from above. The center of the former beam is mounted on another one which runs between both sides of the cárcavo and serves as a pivot. The free end of this simple first-class lever is weighted with stones.
In the position shown (13, 15) the wheel would not turn because the water would be scattered in all directions. It is only when the miller, from his place next to the platform, pushes the control beam (4, left) down, that the free end comes up. The water may then leave the chute in a nice strong jet with enough directed energy to turn the wheel around. ()

(15) Rodete (wheel), paradera (stop device) and puente (sole tree) with aliviador (lightening tree)


 Molino de Lacabezonada —consulted V.2017— SIPCA - Sistema de Información del Patrimonio Aragonés: website at

 Another make of paradera can be seen in the mill of Pedro Buil in Sarsa da Surta.

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