Did you know that in Val Veddasca there is a real rock sanctuary? With the help of the book by Roberto Corbella “Celti”, we went to find traces of ancient Celtic rocks scattered throughout the Valley.
The Book “Celts. Historical and touristic itineraries among Lombardy Piedmont Switzerland “Macchione Editore, 2000 – is one of many by Roberto Corbella, a scholar of the ancient rites of this population that has lived on our territory many years ago. From reading this book we get important information on the history of Val Veddasca.
In Val Veddasca several boulders have been found with inscriptions and cups which suggest the realization, by the Leponzi, of a real itinerary of pilgrimage similar to those that can be found in Ireland or in Brittany.
In fact, there are boulders with graffiti symbols where certain rituals have to be performed, rituals linked to astral cycles and fertility.
In the “cupels”, small circular excavations, butter or fat had to be poured into a symbol of supply. Then there are branched channels dedicated to the supply of liquids such as blood, milk or beer, to propitiate a certain divinity. There are sometimes rectangular tubs where you can lay flour, honey or berries. You can recognize different incisions that, even if stylized, symbolize animals or flowers or wheels. Boulders are always placed in a dominant position or at the sides of a path.
A constant is represented by the cross sign, indicating an anthropomorphic figure, probably the human being who has “sanctified” the boulder of sacrifice.
Corbella indicates the presence of such rocks at Pian Cavurico and then towards the Cortetto. At the Alpone there is a large boulder with more than 80 engravings in which the anthropomorphic crosses and those called “crossbow” are recognized, cupels and goblet shapes.
From the opposite side of the Valle Veddasca there is another route that starts from the base of the cableway that leads to Monteviasco and continues to Ponte di Piero. Once in Monteviasco there is another slab reduced to a bench with 4 large cups next to the fountain. Still other traces can be found at the Alpe Corte and at the Alpe Cortetto.
In the book of Corbella we read:
“This identification, by the inhabitants of the last century, of the masses engraved with demonic cults or witchcraft, reflects the fact that secretly these places were the object of pagan worship for a long time after the Christianization “.
An ancient popular legend throughout the Alps gives the crosses of the boulders the power to make women fertile. Another, tells that dwarves and elves fed on the berries and cheese that the shepherds left for them in the cups. Surely, this legend is due to the origin of a festival that was celebrated until a few years ago in Val Veddasca, where large rocks perched on top of which the juniper was inflamed on the evening of August.
Adds Astini, another local historian:
“And if with the advent of Rome, after the annexation of Spain, Gaul, Brittany, Celtic Iberian cults, etc .. were unable to support an unequal struggle against the advance religion of the winners However, the old indigenous cults were still practiced by modest people, in out-of-the-way places.In some Swedish localities (near Linde, Vastmanland) the pagan habit still survives to cure sick children by placing a puppet, representing the child himself, on a stone whose cupels were previously filled with fat: an offering to the elves, protecting spirits, who watch over the health of the family to propitiate them “.