The verracos (Spanish: verraco; Portuguese: berrão) are granite megalithic monuments, sculptures of animals that are to be found in the west of the Iberian meseta – the high central plain of the Iberian peninsula – in the Spanish provinces of Ávila, Salamanca, Zamora, and Cáceres, but also in the north of Portugal and Galicia. Over 400 have been identified. The Spanish word verraco normally refers to boars and the sculptures are sometimes called verracos de piedra (pigs of stone) to distinguish them from live animals. The stone verracos appear to represent not only pigs but also other animals. Some have been identified as bulls, and the village of El Oso, Ávila, named for “the Bear”, has a verraco which supposedly represents a bear. Their dates range from the mid 4th to 1st centuries BC. There is some similar zoomorphic monument markers in lands of Poland from the same period or older.
Though they were perhaps not confined to a single usage, the verracos were an essential part of the landscape of the Vettones, one of the Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula. It has generally been assumed from their high visibility in their original open fields surroundings that these sculptures had some protective religious significance, whether guarding the security of livestock or as funerary monuments (some of them bear Latin funerary inscriptions). The verracos are particularly numerous too in the vicinity of the walled Celtiberian communities that Romans called oppida.
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