Mills in Alto Aragón - aceitero

Santa Eulalia la Mayor

Santa Eulalia la mayor is a village in the Hoya de Huesca county. From Huesca take the N-240 towards Barbastro. You will cross the Río Flumen and soon thereafter a branch to the left for Loporzano and Bandaliés (HU-330). Straight through Loporzano and in Sasa del Abadiado right for Castilsabás (with its mill). There again left for Santa Eulalia. Drop your vehicle near the hairpin bend below the village. Walk the gravel road down into the Barranco Pitracanera and you may recognize the remains of the mill (see 1 and 4).

(1) Remains of the mill in the Barranco Pitracanera

(2) The mill pond with people researching the pressure pit.
The walls at right border a field and have no connection with the mill.

Arriving at the mill you will notice that the path, which is the old road between Santa Eulalia and Barluenga, runs between the pond (2, 3) of the mill and its workplace with the pressure pit.

The pond is large and narrowly triangular (2) and built with big ashlar stones, just like the cubo (3). It is difficult to understand how this constellation with pond and pressure pit at opposite sides of the road, could have worked. We couldn't find any communi­cation between both vessels and, even if there was, there is no way that full use could be made of the entire volume of the pressure pit. At least not without pumping the water up.

Comparing some old aerial photographs (4) shows that changes were made in the configuration at some time between the end of the 1950s and the end of the 1970s.

In the beginning (4 left) the pressure pit was situa­ted at the wide end of the pond (a bit left of the ivy in 3). This is remarkable because usually the walls of the pond are tapered towards the cubo. However, this should not be an obstacle to the proper func­tioning of the system. Afterwards (4 right), the pressure pit can be seen next to the short side of the building and contact with the pond is lost. We don't see the reason for the changes.

(3) Mill pond, embalse, and pressure pit, cubo, with ∅ = 2 m.

(4) Left: Vuelo Americano (1956–57) — Right: Interministerial (around 1980)
Notice the position of the pressure pit (dark dot in grey circle) — aerial views ©

The construction is in a sad condition. The roof is gone and the walls are about to fall down. What remains of the installations is overgrown (5) with blackberry and ivy.

By the look of the remaining walls the mill must have been built or rebuilt in several phases. The section with the cubo features huge regularly cut ashlar stones carefully stacked. The section where the fulcrum of the cantilever press is situated (3 left, 5 near), has a much more irregular quality because it is constructed with natural stones showing a wide range of shapes and sizes. The next section which is farthest away from the cubo, shows still another approach in building walls. Columns were erected, built from ashlar stones and the space between these columns is filled up with adobe.

Within the walls more columns and walls were needed to support the roof. These were built from either ashlar stones or thin bricks.

The dense vegetation made it difficult to explore the interior. An old dilapidated wooden cart stowed away between the walls made it even more unplea­sant. We couldn't find any small artefacts, but the main equipment, the press and the grinder (5–8), of an oil mill were still present, though in bad shape.

The grinder (6) was turned around with water. This is rather uncommon in oil mills of the region. In most almazaras the roller crusher was driven by an animal. The underhouse below the grinder (10, 12) is filled with silt almost to its ceiling, but as far as we can judge, the wooden wheel shaft is in good condition. The wheel might still be present and resting in good shape below the silt.

Left and right of the wheel rods can be seen (12) which remind of the control rods — to lift and to halt the wheel — in the cárcavo of a flour mill. There is no use for them in an olive grinder, though. One of the rods may control the hatch to cut the flow, but then the nozzle, botana, must be mounted on one of the sides, which is never the case elsewhere.

(5) The cantilever press.
(6) The grinder.

(7) Virgenes, beams forming the fulcrum of the press.
Notice the trabón supporting the main beam.
(8) Free end of the press with the screw, husillo.
The wooden block in which the screw turns
is called hembra, or tuerca.

The cantilever press did collapse and the main beam is putrefied (7). The many metal strips betray that the vertical beams, virgenes, at the fixed end of the lever needed to be reinforced. Maybe the press was already in poor condition before the business was closed.
At the moving end of the press (8) the screw, husillo or caracol, is exceptionally well preserved. The wooden block in which the screw is fitted (11) carries the year — AÑO DE 1899 — and the letters B and M, probably the initials of the builder(s).

(9) Wooden plate, marrano, below which the heap with olive mash to be pressed is placed.

(10) Mouth of the cárcavo.
(11) Inscription on the hembra:
Año de 1899 — B M

(12) Underhouse, cárcavo, with the wooden wheel-shaft and what looks like control rods left and right.

Path: Home / Alto Aragón: old mills / Santa Eulalia La Mayor
Learn about the parts of a mill
Visit the mills; catalogue
Literature and other websites
© and e-mail: