We had read about a Dolmen north of Mérida , which we wanted to see. We visited some others before, in Andalusia and Portugal and were looking forward to this one too, as they are all different in their state of conservation. It is located in the middle of the Dehesa, where a small sign on a country road tells you that you are nearly there. From a small parking you have to walk about 1 km to reach the Dolmen da Lácara.
The Dolmen of Lácara is the largest passage grave in Extremadura. It dates from the late Neolithic or the early Copper Age (approx. 4200-3500 BC).
There is an almost 15 m long, but only approx. 1.50 m high corridor to get to the actual grave chamber. The rear part of the corridor with a square portal and four of five horizontal ceiling stones is relatively completely preserved. It is symbolically separated from the front by two side stones, as is the chamber from the corridor.
The actual grave consists of carefully hewn and smoothed stones and is composed of a centrally located, round chamber. Of the once about 5 m high burial chamber with a diameter of also about 5 m, most of the upright standing stones are only preserved as stumps, except for two longer ones. During the excavations, several broken stones that belonged to the complex were found in the area, including remains of the broken capstone, which lies next to the Dolmen now.
The grave was used for various people over a long period, maybe even a millennium. The deceased was placed in a foetal position, with some personal belongings, a knife, arrow, necklace or an amulet to protect them during their transit into another life.
The Lácara area has an abundance of rounded granite rocks. These rocks have natural fissures, which were used to extract large blocks for the construction of the dolmen. They were carved into a suitable shape and 50 to 100 people were needed to move each stone with the help of a sledge on wooden rollers. The construction of this dolmen represented a great effort to the community that built it.
We had also learned, that the Dehesa landscape, with its oak trees and pastures, was already formed during the Neolithic. The soil is not very fertile in most of the Extremadura, so extensive livestock farming with the use of the nourishing acorns was the solution.
From the dolmen we were heading to the closest reservoir, as it was really hot again.
At Cordobilla de Lácara there are 2 dams next to each other, and between them we found a beautiful spot to camp. It was quiet, we had a lake with great water in front of us and there was a bar not far away, where we could enjoy the sunset. We stayed two nights before we felt the urge to get moving again. (39.154845, -6.420112)
We will go further south now, along the border to Portugal, exploring smaller towns and the endless Dehesa. More on our next post!