History - Orcera

History - Orcera

The oldest settlement known in the Orcereño municipality corresponds to the Bronze Age from when the existence of a series of foothill settlements in the valleys of the Orcera and Trujala rivers have been confirmed: Piedra del Águila, Cerro of la Coja, Peñón del Utrero and Cerro de la Atalaya. Abundant ceramic material has been found in these settlements. In the last two there are also remains of a fortification, sharing similarities with those from both Roman times and even the late medieval period. A series of centreboards with an “S” profile were found that, according to the opinion of Emilio de la Cruz Aguilar, could have given rise to the name of the town. Some identify this place as the one where Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus was cremated on a pyre by the Carthaginians, for which he was called Rogum Scipionis.

The current population centre was founded during the Islamic era, when it was a small farm belonging to the district of Saqura (Segura de la Sierra). During the Almohad presence in the south of the peninsula during the twelfth century and given the growing Christian pressure on the border, many settlements in the Sierra de Segura built fortifications for surveillance and defence. From this period is the unique set of three watchtowers, called Santa Catalina, which were built in front of the town and which complemented the military and defensive function of the Segureño castle. On the other hand, the nucleus itself built another tower in the centre of the hamlet, whose remains today constitute the base of the bell tower of the parish church of the Asunción.

Orcera was conquered around 1230 by Christian troops, but not by knights from Santiago like almost the entire Segura valley, but instead by knights from the alfoz of Alcaraz (a town in the current province of Albacete). However, it was subsequently donated to the Order of Santiago and the Common of Segura as a suburb of the town of Segura de la Sierra, a donation that was later confirmed by King Alfonso XI in 1329. In this way, the town Matrix and suburb linked their destinies for many centuries, since the independence of Orcera as a town would not occur until well into the nineteenth century.

On the outskirts of Orcera, a community of Franciscan friars settled and around 1534 where they began the construction of a monastery dedicated to Santa María de la Peña, a Gothic carving that according to legend had been found in a nearby cave by a farmer. The image is today in the Iglesia de Segura de la Sierra and is one of the oldest preserved in the province of Jaén. Between July 27 and 29 1580, in the sacristy of the monastery, the procurators of the towns of the Common met to prepare the Common Ordinances of the town of Segura de la Sierra and its land in order to guard, conserve and administer the mountains of Segura. These ordinances were confirmed on July 5 1581 by King Philip II.

These Ordinances represented an entire model of self-management of the territory’s forestry and agricultural resources, in a very interesting example of humans and nature coinciding. But this idyll between mountain people and mountains unfortunately had an expiration date.

In 1748, under Fernando VI, the Maritime Province of Segura was created, associated with the municipalities of Marina de Cádiz and Cartagena, with the sole intention of plundering the wood from their forests through the privatisation of the mountains. From the second half of the eighteenth century, Segureña wood supplied a good part of the construction needs in the southern part of the country, especially for buildings such as the Tobacco Factory of Seville and ships. The logs were transported by the Guadalquivir and Segura rivers, whose sources are in these mountains. The mountain people were deprived of their main means of life, and the forests were deprived of the protection of the mountain people. The Maritime Province of Segura had its capital in Orcera, although it was still a suburb of Segura de la Sierra

The Minister of the Navy also resided in Orcera. The province had an area greater than that of the current province of Jaén and included, in addition to the Sierra de Segura, the sub-delegations of Alcaraz, Cazorla, Santisteban del Puerto and Villanueva del Arzobispo. In 1836 the Maritime Province was suppressed, excluding the deforestation of the mountains by the State, which continued well into the twentieth century.

With the provincial division of Minister Javier de Burgos, in 1833, the town became a town in the province of Jaén and ceased to belong to the old Kingdom of Murcia. In 1837, Orcera was separated from Segura de la Sierra, becoming an independent town.


Living in Andalucia