Mills in Alto Aragón

Parts of a mill


The Engine
The Powersource
The Workplace: harinero, aceitero, batán

The Workplace of a flour mill: harinero

grua with cabra
piedra de moler
piedra de moler
dressing tools

The cereals, brought to the mill by mule (I imagine), were put into the tolva, centered above the upper mill-stone. The grains then drizzled from this hopper down to the stones (piedras de moler). The lower stone (bedstone = solera) is fixed, the upper stone (runner = volandera) moved with the rodete.

Both stones are encapsulated by the guardapolvo (stonecase) to avoid flour escaping in all directions. The guardapolvo, being circular in most cases, is sometimes octogonal (f.e. Yésero, Ainielle).

The influence of the type of stone and the pattern of the ridges on the quality of the flour must not be underestimated: frequent maintenance was needed. The grua (crane) with the cabra was used to lift and turn the stone for dressing. This sharping of the ridges, picar las piedras, was often done by specialized itinerant craftsmen using tools as shown on the picture.

The upper stone (weight about 1000 kilos) made more than 100 revolutions a minute. Fine tuning the balance of the whole construction was important.
Nowadays piedras are recycled as picnic-tables (Sarvisé, Allué).

The Engine
The Powersource
The Workplace: harinero, aceitero, batán


The Workplace of an olive mill: aceitero

First step in the making of olive-oil is to arrange the olives in the circular balsa and let them undergo the forces of the ruello. This vertical mill-stone is only in few cases moved by water (e.g. Santa Eulalia la mayor): that was a mule's job. During this process, some one had to prevent the olives from escaping. Eventually, the olives form an amorphous mash.
balsa with ruello
prensa with caracol
Next action was to stack the circular mats (esteras) with the mash alternating - an enormous vegetarian sandwich - under the press (prensa). The lever was fixed on the end near the pile. The other end was free to swing up and down.

An oversized screw (caracol), moved by man-power, forced the lever down, leaving the poor olives no alternative but give up the precious liquid. The application of hot water made them so much the more co-operative.

The water-oil mixture was captured in a stone reservoir, called pila. Overflow from pila to pila purified the oil in few steps. The crust left between the mats served as a combustible or as fodder.

Some mills were equipped with a more modern space-saving (steel) press lacking the lever (e.g. Troncedo, Almazorre, Mipanas). Find more pictures of caracol and estera in Coscojuela and Trillo.


The Engine
The Powersource
The Workplace: harinero, aceitero, batán


The Workplace of a fulling-mill: batán

The hammering of a fulling-mill in action could be heard from a distance of several hunderds of meters. The process could go on without the continuous presence of the miller. He could suffice with a check-up visit every few hours.

They had a vertical wheel, because that made the construction easier and the functioning more straightforward.

The last batán (Lacort) functioned until the early 1970s.


The Engine
The Powersource
The Workplace: harinero, aceitero, batán

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