Aquis Originis mansio: Rest for travellers who used the old Roman roads.
This is the first stop found on the Via XVIII (Via Nova) of the Antonine itinerary when entering the current territory of Galicia, more exactly between miles 38 and 39 of the aforementioned itinerary and near an outcrop of hot springs in the Serra do Xurés in Orense territory.
Its main function would have been to provide shelter to travellers on the Via Nova between Brácara Augusta and Asturica Augusta.
These stopping places would arise due to the enormous traffic on this road, which was one of the few communication routes that connected several regions and would therefore facilitate the trade of raw materials such as gold, which came from places like Las Médulas, in the region of Bierzo in the province of León.
Its initial construction dates from the High Imperial period, but is now largely gone. The parts that are preserved correspond to a second building phase around the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century AD, with various renovations observed until the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century AD.
Its original extension would have been around 500 m², with a residential sector or pars urbana, which would be endowed with private thermal complexes, peristyles and probably floors profusely decorated with mosaics or pavements, as well as decorative paintings on the walls.
Currently, we can see 3 sections corresponding to the urban area. Perhaps the most spectacular corresponds to the area of the well-preserved hipocaustum which would have heated the rooms and serviced the thermal area, where it would have heated the caldarium or hot water pool. We can also see an area reserved for the kitchen and a third corresponding to a patio located between the two previous areas.
The villa is located in the heart of Parque do Xurés, a Biosphere Reserve, a few metres from the course of the River Caldo, within walking distance of a beautiful spot formed by A Corga da Fecha. This location was probably chosen because hot springs – much appreciated by the Romans – emanated from here. These waters were used to create fantastic hot baths and heating systems that the inhabitants of the mansio enjoyed. Various items have been found in this location, such as coins and other gold and marble objects. These finds can be enjoyed at the Orense Archaeological Museum.
A brief technical stop at Aquis Origins
(Text obtained from the Aquae Querquennae Interpretation Centre)
After a few days of rest and inspections related to imperial treasury taxation, Lucio Didio Marino left for Bracara, travelling the section of the Limia valley through which the Via Nova runs, to the other Quaquerna mansio of Aquis Originis, on the Current Caldo River.
The name of the mansio, if the version of the codex that transmits it is accepted, would translate as “Waters of Origin”. This etymology means little, unless it is a corruption of the place name Aquis Ocerensis from the Ravenna Cosmography, which would confirm the dedication to Ocaera, by San Joao del Campo, and the graphite plaque with the name Ogeresibus, which recently appeared in the River Caldo Baths. From Aquis Querquennis to Aquis Origins there are only 13 miles, which Lucio Didio and his entourage walked at lunchtime. The Imperial messengers had announced their arrival and everything was ready to eat. The new mansio also had thermal waters, but the residential centre was very small, which was why the official hostel building was so prominent within the complex.
This was located about 300 m south of the thermal springs, where, however, there was an aedicule or nymphaeum (recently an altar was found to support this), which Lucio Didio Mariño wanted to visit to offer these divinities a small size altar. However, he preferred to take his usual bath, before lunch, in the mansio’s excellent thermal waters, despite having the artificially heated hypocaust pool water in his caldarium.
Lunch was over and, after a brief rest, the cortejo procutatorial began to start the difficult journey from Xurés to the Salaniana mansio where Didio Mariño would decide to spend the night.