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The White Cross (Cross of Roldán)

Bert45

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Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
I don't have a copy of Brierley's guide to the Camino Francés, but, apparently, he states that the White Cross, between Roncesvalles and Burguete is 700 years old. If you have a copy, can you confirm that? The book cannot be read on Amazon or anything else, it seems. If you have a copy, can you confirm or deny what I've been told? The plaque next to the cross says "S.XVII" (17th century) and " abatida en 1794 y repuesta el 24 -09-2006. If Brierley does say it's 700 years old, are there any sources that could confirm this? I mean, where did he get this information?
 
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From SantiagoWays.com:
“This cross was installed in the 16th century at the request of the religious people of that time. Its objective was to purify the Sorginaritzaga Forest, which was believed to be the land of witches.

At the end of the 18th century, the cross was severely damaged by lightning. Later on, French troops who had taken the legend to heart destroyed the White Cross completely, as a symbol that represented the defeat of their ancestors to the Basques.

The reconstruction of the White Cross was finished in 2006. The cross we can see today is a replica of the original.”

Brierley simply says, “… on the outskirts of Burguete we passed the White Cross Cruz Blanca [symbol of divine purification erected as protection against the witches‘ healing arts!].” He doesn’t give a date but refers to secret witches’ covens in the nearby forest in the 16th century.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
From SantiagoWays.com:
“This cross was installed in the 16th century at the request of the religious people of that time. Its objective was to purify the Sorginaritzaga Forest, which was believed to be the land of witches.

At the end of the 18th century, the cross was severely damaged by lightning. Later on, French troops who had taken the legend to heart destroyed the White Cross completely, as a symbol that represented the defeat of their ancestors to the Basques.

The reconstruction of the White Cross was finished in 2006. The cross we can see today is a replica of the original.”

Brierley simply says, “… on the outskirts of Burguete we passed the White Cross Cruz Blanca [symbol of divine purification erected as protection against the witches‘ healing arts!].” He doesn’t give a date but refers to secret witches’ covens in the nearby forest in the 16th century.
Thanks, Laurie. 16th century or 17th century, 520 years maximum. Either my friend made a mistake or Brierley has changed the info in a more recent edition.
 

jsalt

Jill
Year of past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Either my friend made a mistake or Brierley has changed the info in a more recent edition.

I checked my 8th edition (2012), and my 10th edition (2014), and in the same section mentioned above (i.e. on the outskirts of Burguete) the white cross is not mentioned at all. I see it first appearing in my 14th edition (2017), as written above. I don't have the editions inbetween.
 
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The description that @Laurie Sanantone gave above appears in Brierley's 12th edition (2015). The cross also appears on his map of stage one on the previous page. He indicated that it was 1.5 km from Roncesvalles. Anyone have the 11th edition?
 
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Bert45

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(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
My blogger friend has said that he was using the 2012 edition of Brierley. Jsalt avers that there is no mention of the cross in the 2012 edition, so it seems that my friend has misread something somewhere. Thanks for all the input.
 
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Gitlitz/Davidson don't even mention this cross. Apparently, the reasons given for its presence are largely speculation. Depending on their personal inclinations, guidebook authors and bloggers give more room or less room to these speculations. Nobody really knows why the cross was erected. However, persecutions and killings of persons accused of witchcraft and of collaborating with the devil did happen in this area of Navarra.

Julio Asunción, a historian and guide with an impressive knowledge of art, archeology and history of Navarra has an entry on his website: Quema de brujos en Burguete. In 1525, five local women were burnt alive on the plaza in front of the church of Burguete. Remarkably, fifty years later, in 1575 when similar accusations were made, the clergy of Roncesvalles, "more enlightened than the common people at the time", intervened and the majority of the accused were acquitted and there were no executions.
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
From SantiagoWays.com:
“This cross was installed in the 16th century at the request of the religious people of that time. Its objective was to purify the Sorginaritzaga Forest, which was believed to be the land of witches.
Very interesting thank you. In fact "sorgina" means witch and "aritza" is oak in Euskera.
 
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A lengthy, rather sobering but also horrifying account of events between 1525 and 1610 can be found in this recent article in La Vanguardia: Un tufo de chamusquina humana se expande por el Pirineo navarro

Now don't ask me what I think of author Brierley who found it fit to comment with this single line: "Symbol of divine purification erected as protection against the witches healing arts!" Because my answer wouldn't be very flattering.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
It seems that those events were a real mess for the Inquisición due to mass hysteria and false accusations and in 1614 announced that didn't want to deal with wichcraft anymore.
 
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Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
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Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
Very interesting! And this phenomenon was not confined to Spain. While walking from Geneva, a local guide explained that the ubiquitous cross-road crosses seen in rural France were erected because it was believed the witches met at these intersections.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
My blogger friend has sent me a photo of the relevant page in his Brierley.
1626307417834.png
Is Brierley referring to a different cross, a cruceiro, on the far side of the main road? Surely he would not be so careless as to refer to the White Cross as a pilgrim cross, when there is a notice board next to it explaining why it's there, and a plaque at its base stating that it is 17th-century (S.XVII). [On the other hand he refers to O Cebreiro as O'Cebreiro.] So JB did not say that the cross is 700 years old in so many words, but that it's "14th century" which was anywhere between 600 and 700 years ago. And if he was referring to a cruceiro on the far side of the main road, why mention it when a walker on the woodland path would not see it? Referring to the 12th edition, why would anyone want to be protected from anybody's healing arts, even of witches?
 
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a cruceiro, on the far side of the main road?
The Cruz de los Peregrinos, the Pilgrims Cross, is described in Spanish sources as one of the most famous crosses of the Camino de Santiago. Below is a screenshot from a video that shows its position, with Roncesvalles at the far end of the road. There are entries for both crosses in Xacopedia, here and here. Both of them are not completely original compositions and not in their original place. The Cruz Blanca/Cruz de Roldan is apparently a 2006 job, put together from "older material".

The Cruz de los Peregrinos is the historically and artistically more significant one of the two crosses.

I knew that it was there but I didn't realise how close to the road it was. I regret that I did not cross the road to have a look at it. A close-up can be seen here.

Cruz de los peregrinos.jpg
 
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GettingThere

Veteran Member
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Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
C. Frances sections Apr-Jun 2019
My blogger friend has sent me a photo of the relevant page in his Brierley.
View attachment 104795
Is Brierley referring to a different cross, a cruceiro, on the far side of the main road? Surely he would not be so careless as to refer to the White Cross as a pilgrim cross, when there is a notice board next to it explaining why it's there, and a plaque at its base stating that it is 17th-century (S.XVII). [On the other hand he refers to O Cebreiro as O'Cebreiro.] So JB did not say that the cross is 700 years old in so many words, but that it's "14th century" which was anywhere between 600 and 700 years ago. And if he was referring to a cruceiro on the far side of the main road, why mention it when a walker on the woodland path would not see it? Referring to the 12th edition, why would anyone want to be protected from anybody's healing arts, even of witches?
I remember that cross - it is a different one, and you pass it where the woodland path is quite close to the road, not far out of Roncesvalles, so it's easily seen. I'll attempt a screenshot from Google Street View... roadside cross.png
 
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The Cruz Blanca/Cruz de Roldan is apparently a 2006 job
This would also explain why Gitliz/Davidson don't even mention a Cruz Blanca (their book was published earlier and has not been updated to include more recent additions to the Camino de Santiago) while they describe the Cruz de Peregrinos as follows: a 14th century Gothic pilgrims cross. Its base is a Renaissance capital representing Navarra king Sancho el Fuerte and his wife Clemencia. The cross was brought from further up the mountain to this site in 1880.
 
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why would anyone want to be protected from anybody's healing arts, even of witches
Why did Brierley write this? His comment is an ironic comment and reflects his own beliefs. He obviously adheres to the belief that the men and women who were burnt at the stake as witches were wise women and wise men and healers who were persecuted by the Catholic Church for this reason. Such modern beliefs are wrong.

When I googled for Were witches wise women a number of search results appeared that seem to point in this direction.

When I googled for Waren Hexen weise Frauen I decided to read the first article that appeared. It says: Weather magic, pact with the devil, damage spells - this is nonsense, of course. Nonsense like so much of what you can hear and read about the persecution of witches to this day. The article points out in particular that there was no systematic or large scale persecution of men and women accused of witchcraft in Spain because of the Spanish Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition as they did reject such superstitious beliefs.
 
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The article I had mentioned earlier quotes two Spanish scholars who define the persecutions as "episodes of collective hysteria that are usually unleashed at times of serious community conflict, and which are explained by the community itself by resorting to conspiracy theories". When things went wrong - bad harvests, droughts, epidemics, famines - people looked for culprits, who were blamed for all the misfortunes.

I don't recall what it says on the cross that was erected in 2006; apparently there is also an information board in Burguete itself but I did not notice it. Anyone?

Witches and witchcraft and the forests where they had their covens and met as narrated in legends and in storytelling are of course marketed as an attraction for visitors these days.

This brushes over the persecution, torture and killing at the beginning of the Modern Era when there was a regional cooling known colloquially as the Little Ice Age in Europe with poor harvests etc, often defined as reaching from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It is thought that there is a relation between all these events, i.e. the climate change had social impacts and the intensive witch-hunting episodes elsewhere in Europe have been linked to agricultural failures during the Little Ice Age.
 
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Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
why would anyone want to be protected from anybody's healing arts, even of witches
Why did Brierley write this? His comment is an ironic comment and reflects his own beliefs. Thanks, Katar1na. Irony does not come over in print, at least, not to me.
I think that my "mystery" has been solved. Thank you to all you mystery solvers! You are brilliant!
 
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Below is the passage in my copy of Brierley. What he writes there, just confirms my low expectations of the quality of his comments of a cultural or historical nature.

He mixes Basque myths of supernatural beings such as witches with the persecution of human beings who were wrongly accused of being witches, and then presents this mixture as "fact", i.e. in his mind, and then in the mind of numerous of his readers and bloggers, and taken out of thin air or perhaps copied without questioning from elsewhere, "secret covens were held in the 16th century" in this woodland near Burguete. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

One can find even worse whoppers of a similar kind in other Camino guidebooks.

Brierley.jpg
 
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Bert45

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Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
Translated from Xacopedia: In 2006 a popular initiative carried out the recovery of the old monument, with a design reminiscent of traditional crossroads. The project was sponsored by the Navarrese Government. The environment, in the vicinity of the space in which the original cross would have been located, today constitutes a forest where various species abound, such as beech, oak and pine. Leaving Roncesvalles, this recovered landmark is located somewhat after the well-known Pilgrims' Cross, with which it is sometimes confused due to the complex historical relationship between the two. [Tell me about it! o_O ]
Kathar1na asked: "I don't recall what it says on the cross that was erected in 2006; apparently there is also an information board in Burguete itself but I did not notice it. Anyone?"
The plaque is at the base of the cross. The information board is very near to the cross. There could be another one in Burguete itself for all I know. :
Happy to oblige
 

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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Basque language doesn´t have articles. They add an "a" at the end of a word instead. "Gurutze Zuria" meaning the White Cross or Errolanen Gurutzea that is the Roldan Cross.
When I did my SJPP- Logroño, I stayed in Burguete. I didn´t find any Basque speaker there. But no doubt that Basque was spoken in the past.
 

Bert45

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
Basque language doesn´t have articles. They add an "a" at the end of a word instead. "Gurutze Zuria" meaning the White Cross or Errolanen Gurutzea that is the Roldan Cross.
When I did my SJPP- Logroño, I stayed in Burguete. I didn´t find any Basque speaker there. But no doubt that Basque was spoken in the past.
I cannot argue with that, but what point are you trying to make?
 

Bert45

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Year of past OR future Camino
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo,
I wanted to give some information about the Basque certainly not required by the OP.
I am sorry.
No apology necessary, Pelegrin. I thought you were trying to say that somebody had got a translation wrong or that the Basque was wrong somewhere. Basque is certainly an odd language, famous for having no connection with any other language. It's so odd that Google Translate cannot come up with a translation for 'akelarre' (witches' sabbath, according to Wiki).
 
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