The rural environment of Espinaréu (in the council of Piloña), is a living treasure of other times. Its antiquity comes testified mainly by the hórreos that proliferate in every corner.
The hórreos, are agrarian constructions and constitute an ancient device that served to store crops and meat of slaughter and to put the food sustenance to good care. For that reason they were built in height, supported on four pillars or pegoyos, to avoid the humidities and to obtain the precise temperature, preventing at the same time that rodents or vermin finish with the stocks.
Of all, the hórreos formed part of the Asturian landscape by the inevitable human adaptation to a hostile and humid environment. If you go through Asturias you will see that the hórreos exist. They abound, more or less. However, in the majority of the cases they exist as mere exception scattered and with low density. In some rural centers this exception is not even observed. On the other hand, being exceptional, they usually survive ruined and sterile, and in many cases they hardly play another role than to shelter tools, vehicles, or carts of the country under their structure.
Espinaréu makes us forget this decline. Few areas are so loved by Asturian anthropology. On the basis of seeing hórreo after hórreo we understand that the villages were territories loaded with life and ingenuity, and we confirm with the sight that in this village one finds the biggest concentration of hórreos of all Asturias.
Nowadays the hórreos serve other needs, or none in particular. Only in his exterior it is appreciated that they still fulfill the function for which they were created, and it is not strange to see them decorated with onions, garlic and other products of the garden less perishable. In this sense, the current refrigerators and freezers have relegated the hórreo to an almost romantic role.
In Espinaréu, as if time had not passed, these constructions seem to want to tell us that they are still alive. Not in vain, they have reasons to be haughty, since in this village you can find the oldest constructions of this type in Asturias. If we wish it, we will have occasion to see one inside, considering that all the hórreos have owner and they are closed with key, so to accede to them it is necessary to ask for permission.
The hórreos of Espinaréu, as in the rest of Asturias, also keep a mystical essence, or superstitious if you prefer. The ethnographic heritage of the village is rounded off with the mystical-magical signs inscribed on its tables. Persuasive elements, in many cases to keep away bad spirits, basically of Celtic origin that were drawn or carved, originally, in forests and caves. These symbols coexist with other merely ornamental and commemorative ones that are the marks of the carpenter builder, and with a good number of messages and generational slogans subject to the interpretation and analysis of the most curious.
It has not been said that in Espinaréu hórreos and paneras coexist, the latter being very similar to the former but of greater capacity, with six pegoyos instead of four, corridor, balustrade and a greater number of ornaments. Both types of constructions were mainly made of chestnut wood and their pieces were joined without a single nail, using wedges of the wood itself to assemble them.
It is known that hórreos and paneras were vital in a farmhouse and that many times, at least the paneras, were part of the bride’s trousseau. Going back further in time we discover that they have an uncertain origin. There are those who maintain that the large wooden crates carried on wheels to the Roman camps during the campaigns of imperial conquest, predecessors of the current caravans, were frequently abandoned and taken advantage of by the locals, who placed them on some supports to use them for storage.