Mills in Altoaragón - aceitero
is a small village in the La Fueva
region. From L'Ainsa take the road to Campo and after 13 km turn right to Tierrantona. Keep on the
main road until you find Formigales, Troncedo and Graus signposted to the left. Past the village of Formigales
there is a sharp turn to the left; here a track goes down into the valley of the Barranco de Formigales — the
mill of Solanilla
is higher up on the same rivulet. Walk the track and you will soon
find some dilapidated shack. Now try to find a weak trail going down: it leads to the mill.
At the time, the building was in a terrible state, but the huge cantilever press was still strong and worth
to be protected and preserved.
(1) The oil mill almost invisible in the landscape.
From a distance, the mill is almost hidden from sight.
That is because of the abundant presence of Ivy but also because the construction is built
leaning against —almost into— the slope of the valley.
For the same reason the mill is built in three levels.
he lowest floor opens with a wide, double wooden door (2).
It is the main entrance —left cornerstones of (2) are just visible leftmost in (1). On one
of the panels kind of an unfinished flower of life is drawn (3) —see also the mill of Labuerda
(2) Main entrance
(3) Engraving on the door
There is another, narrower, door at the highest level (1 center) and giving access to a small space which protrudes from the rectangle formed by the rest of the construction.
It is the place where the olives where crushed.
There is a stone (4) resting in a simply circular embalse
without a dedicated wider stretch where the mash could be scooped up. It is a cramped space and I am not sure that the narrow path around the embalse could accommodate a mule pulling the stone around.
Also, given that the
main entrance is elsewhere, this configuration does not seem very practical as all fresh produce
had to be carried two levels up from the entrance. Unless, of course, reception of the olives to be pressed was done at the small door here. But then there is no obvious place where to store more than a only a small amount of fruits in waiting. In order to avoid fermentation, resulting in lower quality of the oil, the olives had to be processed soon after their arrival, but even so, sufficient storage was required.
(4) Ruello, runner stone, in its embalse. Notice the year 1784.
From the milling station a series of steps (5) leads
down to the middle level where the press is. Working one's way 2 meters down on narrow steps
with a load of mash —and then 10m more to the far side of
the press (6)— again must have been less than desirable.
he press is of the cantilever type, prensa
de viga y quintal
, and, given the general state of the site, in a rather good
condition: only the vertical guiding beams, guiaderas
, in the middle are gone.
See e.g. Panillo
for a complete specimen.
(7) Tuerca with caracol
he free end (7, 8, 11) of the prensa is peculiar.
The shape of the tuerca
, the block which holds the screw, or husillo, caracol
, is very irregular. Compare it with the regular shapes in f.e. Trillo
Notice also the empty hole and the rusty head of a metallic bolt at the front (7). The tuerca
consists of a front and a back half held together by two rods. The cleavage between
both parts is not straight. I therefore presume that the block must have split by accident
and then was repaired (5 shows the back).
The finish of the top of the beam is not symmetrical (8) and the two holes make it look like
something (but what?) was attached to one side.
ext to the press, at the lowest floor, there is a couple
of decanting vessels, pilas
It is also worth the effort to browse the site and take a closer look
at how the parts of the press are bolted together (5, 7, 10).
Don't miss the items which look a bit like a cricket bat (12).
These beams with handles are called trabones or lavijas. The former were
slided into the slits of the vertical beams at the back (virgenes) in order to block
the fixed end of the beam and the latter into the guiaderas in order to
lock and support the beam in a horizontal idle position.
(9) Decanting vessels
(11) Connection between beam and tuerca; see also (8)