The Santa Cueva de Nuestra Señora de Covadonga (Holy Cave of Our Lady of Covadonga) is a Catholic sanctuary cave in the Picos de Europa mountains. The name refers to the sanctuary, dedicated to the Virgin of Covadonga, where the first batlle of the Spanish Reconquest took place in 718.
The origin of the cave as place of cult is controversial. It seems to have been originally another place of confluence of Pagan Cult as the Old English Wilweorthunga, meaning 'well of worship' had been in Prehistorical times and still during the Roman Empire occupation. The Christian tradition has it that Pelagius, chasing a criminal, who had taken refuge in the cave, meets a hermit who was venerating the Virgin Mary. The hermit asked Pelagius to forgive the criminal, since the criminal had resorted to the protection of the Virgin, and says that one day that he too would need to seek shelter in the Cave.
The first construction in the Holy Cave dates back of the reign of Alfonso I of Asturias, who, to commemorate the victory of Pelagius to the Muslims, built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, that would give rise to the invocation of the Our Lady of Covadonga (popularly known as La Santina). In addition to the altar dedicated to the Virgin built other two for Saint John the Baptist and Saint Andrew. Alfonso make delivery of this church to the Benedictine monks.
The cave was covered with wood, and in 1777 a fire destroyed the medieval Marian statue. The current wooden image of Virgin and Child dates to the 16th century and was donated to the sanctuary by the Cathedral of Oviedo in 1778.
During the civil war the Virgin image disappears and is found in the Embassy of Spain in France in 1939. The present chapel of Romanesque style is work of Luis Menéndez-Pidal and Alvarez.
The shrine of Covadonga was very important for the early (8th century) Christian kingdom of Asturias. Several members of the royal family buried in the Pantéon Real de Covadonga like Pelagius of Asturias (died 737), the first king of Asturias.References:
Trullhalsar is a very well-preserved and restored burial field dating back to the Roman Iron Ages (0-400 AD) and Vendel period (550-800 AD). There are over 340 different kind of graves like round stones (called judgement rings), ship settings, tumuli and a viking-age picture stone (700 AD).
There are 291 graves of this type within the Trullhalsar burial ground, which occurs there in different sizes from two to eight metres in diameter and heights between 20 and 40 centimetres. Some of them still have a rounded stone in the centre as a so-called grave ball, a special feature of Scandinavian graves from the late Iron and Viking Age.
In addition, there is a ship setting, 26 stone circles and 31 menhirs within the burial ground, which measures about 200 x 150 metres. The stone circles, also called judge's rings, have diameters between four and 15 metres. They consist partly of lying boulders and partly of vertically placed stones. About half of them have a central stone in the centre of the circle.
From 1915 to 1916, many of the graves were archaeologically examined and both graves of men and women were found. The women's graves in particular suggest that the deceased were very wealthy during their lifetime. Jewellery and weapons or food were found, and in some graves even bones of lynxes and bears. Since these animals have never been found in the wild on Gotland, it is assumed that the deceased were given the skins of these animals in their graves.