The area around Chaves has numerous examples of rock art dating from prehistoric times, such as the petroglyphs of Castelo de Mau Vizinho in Cimo de Vila da Castanheira, of Outeiro Machado in Valdanta, in Sanjurge, Mairos and others. From the period of the hill-fort culture are the hill-forts of Curalha, Bustelo, Loivos, Mairos, Nogueira and Oura. Dating from Roman times are the remnants of roads and bridges, such as the bridge of São Lourenço and Arcossó, or dams, such as the one in Abobeleira. Towns such as Granjinha contributed numerous materials and a votive altar stone, which can now be seen in the Museum of the Flaviense Region.
Roman Baths of Chaves
The presence of thermal springs was the main reason why the Romans established an important stopover point in Chaves on the route from Braga to Astorga, which would later become a city in its own right, and which was given the allusive name of Aquae Flaviae. As the Romans considered that the curative properties of the waters were due to the intervention of the gods, these thermal springs were also sanctuaries, visited by people from far and wide seeking cures for their illnesses and the chance to worship the gods who were generally associated with nymphs, as was the case in Chaves, revealed by epigraphs, or in other cases with the gods Minerva, Asceplius or Salus. The Roman baths of Chaves, discovered in 2006, are located in Largo do Arrabalde. Archaeological excavation work ended in October 2008, and the remains now form a part of a project to build a museum on the site. This is a hot spring complex covering the centre of the square, in very good condition. The thermal complex consisted of a large, central pool, fed by two hot springs, and a second pool that is still partially concealed, around which were the rooms used for the different treatments mentioned by the classic authors: individual immersion baths, baths with water sprinklers, steam treatments and massages. It was also used as a meeting point and for leisure activities, revealed by the discovery of a rare tower defence game and its respective details, found during the archaeological dig. The building was used until the end of the fourth century AD, when the collapse of the dome in the roof buried the people who were using the pool. After the collapse, subsequent flooding of the River Támega covered the remains with layers of sand and mud, eliminating the memory of the presence of this important Roman public building. In the Middle Ages a neighbourhood stood in this area with gardens (which gave their name to this neighbourhood), and we know that the springs were in use again in the sixteenth century, along the Rivelas riverbank.
Having once been a lake, the valley does not have large numbers of very old sites, and the most important discovery was the Bronze Age settlement of Ábedes. From the megalithic period there are the petroglyphs or rock art of Ábedes (in Fraga dos Lobos, San Antón and Reimóndez), Feces de Abaixo and Penedo da Moura in Tamaguelos. The place names of Tamagos and Tamaguelos date from the hill-fort period, with the local hill-forts of O Circo and A Moreiroá in Mandín, A Cruz in Tamaguelos and A Baixada dos Mouros in Cabreiroá. The Roman period, apart from providing numerous place names (Verín, Mandín, Ábedes, Cabreiroá, Mourazos and Queizás), provided the remains of buildings such as the villae of Ábedes, Mourazos, Cabreiroá and Verín, where the remains of a series of commercial establishment from the period were also found. Other discoveries included mortars, bricks, imbrex and tegula roof tiles, columns, shafts and column bases. The most important discovery was a sculpture showing the god Dionysus and the satyr Ampelus, found in Mourazos and now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Ourense. Coins were found from the time of the Emperor Augustus, together with funerary steles and altars, such as the one in the church of A Misericordia in Verín, in the church of Queizás, and in the rectory of Vilamaior. Bridges such as the one in Feces de Abaixo and several milestones are indicative of the Roman roads that crossed through the valley. Those found in Tamaguelos, Tamagos, Quinta do Perú and from the mill of Vilela belonged to the section that ran between Aquae Flaviae – Salientibus. Other milestones found in Oimbra indicate a section of another road that ran parallel to the River Tâmega. The milestones of San Lázaro and Pazos, from the time of Claudius II, belonged to the road that ran between Bragança – Tamacani – Límice.
Source: Provincial Archaeological Museum Ourense