HEATWAVE, WATER, PRISON AND OLIVE OIL
In these days of heatwave, marked by intense heat and drought, we remember how, as far back as Roman times, canals were built for irrigation in the Queiles valley, which carried water from the Moncayo to the fields. These canals were greatly extended by the Arabs, forming an extensive network of irrigation channels.
As is usually the case with any scarce and valuable asset, there were always those who took advantage and used water that did not belong to them, and through the centuries authorities have had to make an effort to regulate the use of the water and to prosecute infringers.
We share an interesting document from the archive of the Castle of Monteagudo, dated 1622, in which the mayor of Monteagudo ordered “that no one should dare to take water from the River Calchetes to irrigate any fields or farms outside the boundaries of this town for any stranger, under penalty of six ducats and ten days in prison for each time”. The penalties would be applied “a third part for the complainant and the rest for the poor and for the building of Our Lady in Monteagudo in equal parts”. The proclamation was announced “in a loud and intelligible voice” in the main square and other areas of Monteagudo. We also share a map with the main rivers and channels of the time.
Nowadays there are no such penalties – and we do not want to give our dear mayor any ideas either – but this network of irrigation channels is still in operation and it is vital for our olive trees to get through the summer in the best conditions and for us to obtain in the autumn our excellent Castillo de Monteagudo extra virgin olive oil.