The forest also provides the raw material to build boats and fishing tools. The castle of San Carlos holds a museum about fishing and the maritime world, where you could clearly see that the coast is not just looking at the sea.
The forestry activity generates opportunities for Galician companies and forestry experts, and PEFC forestry certification contributes to its value
Castle of San Carlos
The strategic location of Costa da Morte turns these lands into a stopping point for the expeditions that went towards the North of Europe or the Mediterranean, which favoured the incursion of the enemy ships that destroyed the inland towns. Until the XVII century, the defence of the coast was limited to small trenches with a couple of artillery pieces. In the XVIII is when a defensive plan based on the strategic location of forts started to be designed.First,three forts were designed: The Castle of Cardeal in Corcubión,the Castle of Principe in Cee,and the Castle of Soberano in Camariñas, and later they added the Castle of San Carlos in Finisterre.
The Castle of Cardeal was built in the XVIII century in Punta Pion. It is the biggest castle of all, with the capacity for nearly 100 soldiers and 12 cannons. It has a hornwork,with the entrance by a central bulwark, a big main square and two watchtowers. It was linked with Castelo do Principe, located just on the opposite side of the estuary. According to the legend, there was a chain between both castles that when tightened it prevented the passage the boats.
The Castle of Principe is a circular battery with hornwork and it could hold 88 men and 12 artillery pieces.
The Castle of San Carlos has an irregular shape in order to adapt to the land. It has three arrow slits, each of them facing different directions. Today it is the museum of the sea, where you can see a permanent exhibition about the fishing gear used in this area over the course of time.
The Castle of Soberano was enclosed by a wall with 17 arrow slits facing the estuary.Inside, there was an area where you could see the cannons, three bastions and one moat to defend from the inland attacks.
Many of them were burned during the Napoleonic invasion and then rebuilt. The Castle of Soberano was dismantled after the Civil War, so that the stones could be used for the construction of the pier of Camariñas.
The Castle of San Carlos has been turned into an ethnographic museum about marine life. If you feel like visiting it, here you can check the timetables. The different methods of fishing used in the area, the types of boats and the way of living in the coastal villages will be explained.
In the museum of the Castle of San Carlos you could discover the different methods of fishing used in the area, the types of boats and the way of living in the coastal villages. We are going to talk about the construction of handmade wooden boats: riverbank carpentry.
Initially, carpentries were located in the beaches, because of the ease of launching the boats into the sea afterwards, and they were temporary buildings which were dismantled as soon as the boat was built. Since the middle of the XX century, the facilities to transport the boats to the sea on the road are going to change this situation: carpentries don´t need to stay by the riverbank any longer, they just need to be placed in a good communicated location. Being so, they tried to be placed in a site near the forest in order to obtain the raw material (wood) easily. Considering all this, that´s the reason why they ended up becoming permanent buildings or shipyards.
Until the XIX century, the hull and the rigging (masts and spars of the boat) were completely constructed in wood, from that moment, other materials such as iron or steel started to be used, and in the XX century composite materials as resins with fibreglass were used. At the same time, propulsion systems of the boats were modified: from oar and sail to steam engine, and later, by the mid XX century to engines run on fuels derived from petroleum. These changes in materials and in the propulsion system led to important changes in the sector. On the one hand, the use of new materials reduced significantly delivery time, so that in the end riverbank carpentry stuck to manufacturing fishing boats, launches to transport passengers along the estuary, sports boats and small boats for the port service.
The carpenter selected in the forest the most appropriate tree for each part. Therefore, for instance, he chose curved trees to make curved structures as the wood shows its maximum resistance and elasticity of the fibres. He also supervised the size of the tree in order to make sure that the cutting had the right characteristics for which it was selected.
Oak wood is used for the construction of the structural elements of the boat, as it is a hard wood and with good mechanical resistance, good performance on exposure to damp or seawater and also against the fungi.However,due to the slow growth of this species it wasn´t easy to find oaks with an appropriate length for certain parts of the boat, so the eucalyptus hardboard was introduced. To cover the hull and the ship deck they used pinewood, oak and pine to the wheelhouse, and chestnut tree, ash tree or nut tree for the small parts.
The parts of the boat are built independently and then they are assembled by structural joints with nails, screws or other pieces, nowadays they used metal and galvanised steel in order to avoid corrosion, but before they were from wood too. Afterwards, they continue with caulking,painting…
Nowadays, riverbank carpentry is an activity in decline in Galicia. According to the data of Riverbank Carpentry Galician Association (AGALCARI), there are only 25 shipyards in operation: 16 in the province of A Coruña,8 in the province of Pontevedra and 1 in the province of Lugo.Among them, they generate around 100 direct employment posts and 500 indirect employment posts. Approximately, 73% of the Galician fishing fleet is made of timber, but these shipyards hardly build any boats nowadays; most of their services are boat repairs.
This activity also has an effect on the management of forest, as the need of timber with specific characteristics requires specialist forestry skills.
It is also an activity with a low environmental impact and hardly any energy costs, with a recyclable and biodegradable produce. Research by the Centre for Wood Innovation and Technological Services reveals that a timber boat releases only 110 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2 ), in comparison with the 110 tons a fibre boat releases during its lifecycle (construction, use, maintenance, scrapping).
Saint Maria das Areas
From the beginnings of Jacobean pilgrimage, a lot of pilgrims continued their Camino on to Fisterra, believed to be the land’s end, to follow a sea bathing rite, followed by burning the clothes worn during their walking journey, and to watch the sunset.
Saint Maria das Areas is the most Westerly sanctuary dedicated to Christ. Pilgrims arrived here after visiting Compostela, carrying on their return a seashell from Langosteira’s beach, which in time became the emblem of the Camino.
The church is of Romanesque origin (twelve century), but was remodelled on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, where the gothic and renaissance styles in some of its chapels come from. The so-called Porta Santa (holy door) is located in one of its side facades, performing the same function as the one on Compostela’s cathedral: atoning for the sins of those who cross it. Now, it is not enough to cross the door, sins can only be atoned for if pilgrims follow Christian values in their daily lives. That is why Portas Santas are always narrow and secondary, because they symbolise that the road to salvation is that of humility and penance.
Next to the temple there is a gothic cruceiro (a religious monument, normally made of stone), with a crucified Christ cross, Saint John’s Virgin at the obverse, and the Virgin and baby Jesus at the back. The cemetery still preserves a small gothic chapel that used to belong to the pilgrim’s hostel.
Fisterra’s Holy Christ, also known as the Golden Beard Christ, stands out inside the sanctuary, a wood carving also made in a gothic style. With this image the aim is to convey Christ’s suffering in the Passion, and this is represented by a very humanised aesthetic: parched blood from his wounds, bruised face, crooked feet, stiff arms, protruding ribs…; this is a deviance from the sober Romanesque style, where emotions are restrained.
Encouraged by the Catholic Church, wood carvings became popular in the Middle Ages in relieves and sculptures, and also as architectural ornaments and as furniture pieces. The most common types of wood for this work are oak, chestnut, ash, beech, walnut, elm; that is, the densest and less resinous types of wood, as they are less prone to chip. The wood piece to be carved needed to be cut well in advance to guarantee that it was dry. There are carvings made from just one piece, and others
made from various glued pieces, even coming from different trees. Once carved, the sculpture was covered in plaster or stucco, after which it was decorated applying a variety of colours.
Neighbours used to enact Resurrection on Easter Sunday, a festival that was declared of National Tourist Interest.
The role of PEFC
Wood and vegetable fibres have found a relevant role in all historical periods.
Galicia has a woodland area of over two million hectares, and forest activities generate value and opportunities among the thousands of foresters and Galician businesses. The PEFC forestry certification contributes by adding value of the whole sector, woodland and industry.
Disparate criteria are valued with PEFC, to guarantee compliance with the sustainable development of forestry management. As an example, those directly related to forest ranges and their management, or related to the employment and security of woodland workers. Having knowledge of wood inventories, their growth and their relationship with timber exploitation creates valuable information about the characteristics of forestry management, allowing measuring out its quality and sustainability.
The employment generated by forest is an important indicator of their social benefits, particularly for rural sustainable development. At the same time, a suitable number of human resources with the relevant qualifications is necessary for the planning and control of sustainable forestry management and for the supervision of forestry work.
The forestry sector has a high death rate, so accident and occupational disease prevention is an important social aspect of a sustainable forest management.
Improving the skills of all the players involved in forest management, not only skills related to occupational risks, but also related to the potential impact of forestry processes, are also PEFC objectives.