Watermills in Altoaragón - harinero, aceitero


Sieste is situated near Boltaña. Find Boltaña on the main road between L'Ainsa and Broto - Torla. Coming from L'Ainsa turn left just before you enter Boltaña towards Margudgued, cross the bridge and at the first branch turn right for Sieste. The road first meanders through the fields and then climbs up-hill. Drop the car at the crossroads leading into the village. Then walk back until you find the old path lined with stone walls. Walk this path and very soon you'll see the valley of the Río Sieste with the mill in the depth. Continue your walk until you reach a point where the slope is less steep. You'll notice some bigger flat stones and a diffuse path going downward. Go down into the river bed and walk against the current to the mill.

Pictures: 27.XII.2006

(1) Sieste (black line) and the mill (blue) (12) Entrance of the mill
We've seen mills in a better condition than this one. The roof is gone, the workfloor lies open to the elements and the first trees are sprouting. If you wish to see a nice olive crusher and ditto press, better go today than tomorrow. The mill is built with its longest side parallel with the river. The entrance door opens in the riverside half of the front wall (12). All machinery is installed at this same side which is several meters longer than the other half (see pict. 2).
The text engraved in the doorhead is difficult to read. Here comes what we could decipher:

AÑO 1807

Note 1:JHS stands for Jesus Christ and JpH for the name José.
Note 2: The press is marked with the same year 1807 (22).
(13) Doorhead with engravings
From the door it's easy to appreciate the configuration of the workfloor (14, 15). From the door you enter in the widest part of the mill. The press is situated in the left half (river side) near the center (14). A door in the wall gives access to a small room. I couldn't make out what was its purpose. The other part (15) was probably used for storage and for heating the water. The press is of the type needing only few floorspace and less headroom than the typical prensas made as an enormous lever - e.g. Trillo, Castilsabás, Coscojuela. Mills with a compact press are f.e. Almazorre (also wooden), Troncedo, Centenera, Mipanas and more.
The head of the press carries the inscription AÑO 1807 (pict. 22). We've seen the same year in Palo.
(14) Interior river side (15) Interior embalse side
(16) Press river side (17) Press embalse side (18)
Walk past the press to the part of the mill opposite the entrance. This section is only half as wide as the rest (14). The floor is the ceiling of the cárcavos.
(19) Mill stone - harinero part (20) Balsa with ruello
Cárcavo left Cárcavo right
First you'll find the balsa with ruello (20). This is the place where the olives are crushed in preparation of the extraction process. It's one of the earlier makes —Trillo has a similar and Troncedo a more modern version— lined with natural stone plates almost perfectly fitting to each other (21). Notice also that this is one of the few ruellos driven by waterpower. Hidden in the corner lies a milling stone (19) overgrown with mosses. It's also an older type: one big stone, not composed of several smaller pieces like the newer makes. No other tools of the harinero were found. Given the narrow space the flour mill was probably not important and may have produced only limited quantities of fodder.
(21) (22) Year 1807 on the prensa
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