Monday, July 27, 2009

El Rollo del Infante

In an old house in an old part of the village there is a twenty-foot stone phallus. It wasn't intended to have any such symbolism, but it's the easiest way to describe it. And it wasn't always in that house, or even within the village.

When the village was even older than that house, in 1410 to be exact, Prince Enrique of Castille gave the village a royal charter as a town. This meant, in practical terms, that it could adminster many of its own affairs, including the collecting of taxes on incoming goods, and the administration of justice.

In honour of this event, and in order that anyone approaching the place would be aware of its status, the tradition in Castille in those days was to set up a 'rollo', the aforesaid phallus, as a symbol recognisable by all who might have legitimate business in the region. The site chosen was on the the bank of the stream, which strikes me as odd since the land rises sharply on both sides and it isn't the most visble spot, but there you are. About 40 of them are supposed to survive, though I have never seen another.

It has a cylindrical base consisting of three steps, and is itself cylindrical, tapering a little towards a rounded and divided top. Near the top are four short metal arms from which those who had fallen foul of the spanking new local justice could be hung from it, or part of them, depending on the nature of the offense.

Some centuries later the ancestors of Raimundo Cuerda wished to build a hous in the expanding town, and they chose that spot. The simbolism of the great stone had either been forgotten or had ceased to matter by that time, and so they simply built the corral around it, and there it stands to this day.

Oddly enough, none of Mrs Hickory's family knew anything about this.

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