Falling Rock Signs in Spain
Spanish Falling Rock Signs
come in many flavours. There is clearly no agreement about the size of the
drawing and how much space it may fill on the canvas. Also a matter of dispute
is the margin between the drawing and the red triangle. The width varies widely.
The same holds true for the size and the shape of the stones.
It may seem
unlikely, but we have found a way to bring some order in the designs.
Pont de Suert (Huesca), xii.1991
First we have the one roadsign which features four boulders.
It is a most remarkable find which reminds me of some
Portuguese signs with which it shares several
- stripes suggesting speed
(find them also in Nepal (rocks flying like bats),
Chile, and Romania)
- a boulder in a cavity of the rock
- a boulder already landed.
Notice the work of a local artist who gave the landed boulder a whole new meaning.
Note: I was in the region again in May 2007 and I couldn't find this specific sign back.
Roda (Huesca), xii.1991
Sarvisé (Huesca), x.1992
Linás de Broto (Huesca), x.1992
Then comes the group with five boulders.
The boulder ready to hit the road is flattened. The second and fourth rock are
bigger than the others. The third rock is a pebble and stays close to the wall whose
shape varies from almost straight to deeply disturbed.
The shape of the rocks is rather variable (e.g. follow the two highest boulders; they
vary from dots, to rectangle, boomerang or flying saucer).
Occasionally a sign is reported which follows the normal scheme of Spanish rock-signs
with five boulders and the lowest stone being flat, but the make is bad beyond
belief. The boulders are real monstruosities and the wall is like a huge mouth
snapping to the stones. Because it is so ugly this design will probably spread
Bielsa (Huesca), v.1995
Puerto de Velate (Navarra), xii.1992
Sarvisé (Huesca), xii.1994
Pyrenees (Huesca), xii.1996
The third group is made of the roadsigns with six falling rocks.
Usually the first and second stone from the top are far apart.
The third stone is the largest and often tooth-like. Sometimes all shapes
are rounded, now and then even to the point that the boulders become slender and like
drops (note: this design was also found in France).
Sierra de Urbion (Soria), v.1991
Plan (Huesca), v.1995
Riglos (Huesca), xi.1996
Bielsa (Huesca), v.1995
Sixteen extra stones were sprayed onto a sign with originally
counted six slender stones (see Bielsa 1995).
For better results the artist might have chosen a faster drying paint.
Sigüés (Zaragoza), 7.x.2018
Falling Rock signs of the fourth group count seven stones.
They must impress by the numbers, because their size is rather small. Again
the artist has quite some freedom, but similar to the other designs, the bottom
stone is usually flat and the center stone bigger.
Aguascaldas - Vilas de Turbon (Huesca),
The fifth group is formed by signs where nine stones
threaten to crush the unsuspecting passer-by.
Warning signs of this group come in two
main classes based on the shape of the boulders. In one class the stones have all about the same size and
no distinct features. In the other group the stones come as pebbles and boulders and in distinct shapes.
The constellation is difficult to believe in both designs.
A Pontenova (Lugo), 10.ii.2009;
pict. J. Koelstra
The more I look the more it looks as if two huge lips at the base are spewing
out rocks into the air. Spume rocks perhaps.
Ribadavia (Ourense), vii.1999
This sign differs from any other find in any other country.
It is an endemic of peninsular Spain. All boulders are still in the air, but gravel is already accumulating
on the road.
Asín de Broto (Huesca), 12.x.2021
At the time, in 1999, we hoped that the sign from Ribadavia —as it was found
on a new road— would set a new trend in Spanish road signage. But a difference of 22 years between
two observations is hardly an indication of great success.