Stone circles - The Threshing Circle of Bolico

Tenerife threshing circles

Tenerife has a large number of old threshing circles dotted around in the farmland and countryside. In Spanish they are known as "Eras" and this seems an apt name seeing as they date back to a past era! Visitors to the island stumbling upon these stone circles may wonder what they are. and sometimes the circles are in quite remote locations or even high up on mountains where you wouldn't expect them.

One of these threshing circles is found high in the mountains above the freshwater ponds of Erjos in a part known as Los Bolicos. There is an old ruined farm building that shows that at one time people lived there and grew crops on the mountain. All that is left today are some crumbling stone walls and the stone threshing circle.

Threshing circle

Los Bolicos threshing circle. Photo by Steve Andrews
Los Bolicos threshing circle. Photo by Steve Andrews

Violets

Violets (Viola odorata). Photo by Steve Andrews
Violets (Viola odorata). Photo by Steve Andrews

The path to Los Bolicos

To get to the Los Bolicos ruined farmhouse and old threshing circle, which is high up on the mountain ridge-way, there is a path that goes uphill from the ponds of Erjos and through ancient evergreen laurel forests before it emerges on the mountainside.

Wild Flowers

This pathway is particularly recommended because of the wealth of wild flowers that can be encountered along the way, as well as the exceeding beauty of the forests. In spring you can expect to see Violets (Viola odorata) and Canary Island Bellflower (Canarina canariensis) in bloom among the woodland plants found growing here.

An alternative route to Los Bolicos is the wide pathway that is on the bend of the road as it leaves Puerto de Erjos and starts its descent to Santiago del Teide. This path is a favourite starting point for many parties of hikers and their guides but it misses out on going through the laurel forests above the Erjos ponds.

Just follow the path uphill and then go right and keep on the path leading in that direction. Eventually you arrive on the ridge with views down towards Masca. If you continue in that direction you are sure to come across the threshing circle.

C.J. Stone

When Tenerife Islander did this walk with the author and fellow hubber C.J. Stone, his friend joked that some people would think this was a UFO landing pad perhaps. What other reason would such a stone circle be created high on the mountains?

Whatever way you arrive there, you will be amazed that this was people once chose to live and to grow crops. On Tenerife, though, there are many places where farmers used to make use of any land they could and this gave rise to the practice of creating agricultural terraces and channels for irrigation of crops.

Because a threshing circle was once made here it is proof that cereals were cultivated in the area and the grain was separated from the chaff here. This was done by having horses, mules or oxen walking around and around in the threshing circle and dragging a threshing board over the harvested crop.

Captanieblas water-catcher

Captanieblas mesh screen to capture water from clouds. Photo by Steve Andrews
Captanieblas mesh screen to capture water from clouds. Photo by Steve Andrews

Capturing water from clouds

Water from the clouds near Cumbre de Bolico. Photo by Steve Andrews
Water from the clouds near Cumbre de Bolico. Photo by Steve Andrews

Water from the clouds

Although it is usually very dry up high on the mountains this part of Tenerife often gets covered in misty clouds known as "bruma." When the countryside is covered by these clouds the temperature drops a lot and everything gets damp from the moisture in the air. This is ideal for many plants and lichens and mosses growing on trees and shrubs depend on it.

A rather novel idea has been put into practice of actually collecting water from these clouds.

Mesh screens have been erected for the water to condense on and it then runs down and is collected in containers. On the pathway to the peak of the mountain known as Bolico there is one of these water-catching screens as well as an information board explaining what it is about.

Walkers using this footpath often stop to have a look at this unusual method of collecting water. It is an interesting form of green technology that could be of great benefit.

At the time of writing Tenerife is suffering an ongoing winter and spring drought so any means of getting much-needed water would be very welcome. The island is not even getting the normal amount of clouds forming.

Sadly the ponds at Erjos are drying up and the normally lush vegetation growing around them is looking brown and shrivelled. Normally, however, the area around Erjos is covered in cloud for part of the time each day so there is plenty of opportunities to condense water from the clouds.

Water from clouds in Tenerife

Threshing Circle

Tenerife Islander in the middle of a threshing circle.
Tenerife Islander in the middle of a threshing circle.

Another threshing circle

The side road from Puerto de Erjos to La Montañeta and San Jose de los Llanos passes by a new agricultural museum and centre that is being built, though work on it has currently been suspended due to the recession. There is, however, an excellent example of tet another threshing circle alredy there.

These circles have stone floors that are laid out in sections radiating out from a centre. A ring of rocks around the edge of the circle clearly defines its boundaries.

It is obvious that a lot of time was spent making these threshing circles which were once a very important part of the ways of life here on Tenerife. The threshing circle was as vital as a good harvest.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Erjos, Tenerife

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Comments 2 comments

marissa 4 years ago

great article..thankyou for the educational experience.


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Tenerife Islander 4 years ago from Tenerife Author

Thank you, Marissa!

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