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Oseja de Sajambre (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: oseja de sajambre | león |
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Flag of Oseja de Sajambre - Image by Antonio Gutiérrez (VexiLeón website), 3 January 2011

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Presentation of Oseja de Sajambre

The municipality of Oseja de Sajambre (265 inhabitants in 2009; 7,331 ha; municipal website) is located in the extreme northeast of León Province, on the border with Asturias, 125 km of León. The municipality is made of the villages of Oseja de Sajambre (capital), Pío de Sajambre, Ribota de Sajambre, Soto de Sajambre and Vierdes de Sajambre. Its territory is mostly made of the Sajambre Valley, watered by river Sella.

The Sajambre valley, located in the northern side of the Cantabrian Cordillera, was already settled in the 4th-3rd millenniums BC, as shown by several megalithic remains. The toponymy indicates successive waves of Indo-European, Celtic and Roman colonization. The hydronym Sella is of Indo-European origin (Salía), transformed by the Celts into Sailia and by the Romans into Saelia. Oseja means a settled place (Celtic, au) near river Sella. Sajambre, from Celtic Salimaine, latinized into Saliamen, means "the territory watered by river Sella".
After the Roman conquest, the Sajambre valley was crossed by a way heading to the Asturian coast, locally known as Via Saliamica (973). The road was used to export ore extracted in the local mines but also to spread the Roman culture, and, subsequently, the Christian religion, in the mountains. Later on, it became a main way of communication between Castile and eastern Asturias, via the passes of Beza and Pontón. On 16 February 1655, Pedro Díaz de Oseja, Archdeacon of Villaviciosa, bequeathed a lot of money for the revamping of the way, which has been known since then as the Archdeacon's Path (Senda del Arcediano) and is today a popular hiking trail (18 km).

The oral tradition and the toponymy seem to indicate that the Sajambre valley was part of the early spot of Asturian uprising against the Muslims, led in the mountains by Pelagius in 718-722, and at the origin of the subsequent Kingdom of Asturias. The Asturian Chronicles state that King Alfonso I (739-757) incorporated the valley to the Kingdom of Asturias and reorganized the reconquerred area, mixing local people with colonists coming from northern regions; the necropolis found in Oseja probably dates from this period. The St. Pelagius chapel of Pío de Sajambre was considered as the oldest Christian sanctuary in the Sajambre valley.
In the 10th century, the Sajambre Valley was ruled by the León-based Counts of Flaínez, who founded in 999 the St. Mary church in the village of Oseja; the St. Mary monastery mentioned in the 11th century was nothing but a "fake" monastery, without any monastic activity. The Counts transferred at the end of the 10th century their rights on the valley to the monastery of Sahagún, that would rule the valley until the 12th century. Accordingly, Sajambre became part of the Kingdom of León.

The Council of Sajambre, made of the five villages of the valley, appeared in 1291; its territorial limits have hardly varied since then and the current municipal territory matches quite well the Council's territory. The Council was placed under the direct authority of the King and its members were elected by the Council's assembly, called by ringing the church's bell.

Ivan Sache, 3 January 2011

Symbols of Oseja de Sajambre

The flag and arms of Oseja de Sajambre (municipal website) are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 25 February 2003 by the Municipal Council, signed on 26 May 2003 by the Mayor and published on 11 June 2003 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 111, p. 8,581 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag with proportions 2:3, made of five equal horizontal stripes, from top to bottom, green, white, blue, white and green, with a red stripe of 1/3 the flag's hoist running from upper hoist to lower fly, charged in its upper part with a white chamois' head.
Coat of arms: Per bend serrated argent of five pieces, 1. Azure five cart's wheels argent 2 + 2 + 1, 2. Gules a chamois argent, in base wavy argent and azure. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown closed.

Ivan Sache, 3 January 2011