Cueva de Llonín

La Concha de la Cova


Useful Information

Location: 700 m from La Molinuca, near Llonín. A8 (N634) exit Unquera, drive through Unquera N-621 south, from Panes follow PB-3/PB-4 to La Molinuca.
(43.330556,-4.645278)
Open: closed.
[2021]
Fee: closed.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:
Guided tours: closed
Photography: closed
Accessibility: closed
Bibliography: Manuel Bea, P. Utrilla (2008): Sanctuaires rupestres comme marqueurs d’identité territoriale: Sites d’agrégation et animaux «sacrés», Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées. Préhistoire, Art et Sociétés. LXIII. 109-134.
Magin Berenguer Alonso (1979): El arte parietal prehistórico de la Cueva de Llonín (Peñamellera Alta), Asturias, Boletín del Instituto de Estudios Asturianos. Español - Spanish
Address: Cueva de Llonín, 33578 Llonín, Peñamellera Alta, Asturias (Principality of Asturias)
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1957 cave used for the fermentation of Cabrales cheese.
1971 cave explored by the Polifemo Caving Group and paintings identified to be of prehistoric origin.
1971 paintings studied by Magin Berenguer.
1984-1998 research by Javier Fortea, with M. de la Rasilla and V. Rodríguez.
13-AUG-2008 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

The Cueva de Llonín is located at the slopes of the Sierra de Cuera, in the valley of the Cares river. It was discovered by the cheese makers of the Cabrales cheese, a local specialty which is matured in cave. They called it Concha de la Cova. They used the cave for cheese making since 1957.

The paintings were discovered when the Polifemo Caving Group explored the cave in 1971. In the same year Magin Berenguer started the study of the artworks. Between 1984 and 1998 Javier Fortea, with M. de la Rasilla and V. Rodríguez, excavated the cave. The excavations revealed remains from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age, which are now exhibited in the Museo Arqueológico de Asturias (Archaeological Museum of Asturias) in Oviedo/Uviéu. Represented are the techno-complexes of the final Gravettian, late Solutrean, the archaic, middle and late Magdalenian, and the Azilian. The Mousterian level revealed anthropic structures made up of animal bones. The bones of wolves and leopards, and special rocks, were arranged intentionally in groups.

The paintings were classified into five phases from Gravetian to Magdalenian. There are 30 animalistic representations engraved and painted, mostly deer, some goats, a bison and reindeer horns. They were dated to five different phases. The oldest is a bison in red, numerous red signs, a female anthropomorphic figure, and a large serpentine assigned to the Gravettian. Then there are black rectangular signs from the late Solutrean. Engraved hinds from the Lower Magdalenian periods followed, with multiple lines as outline and striated areas to shape their anatomy. Then there is a group of Middle Magdalenian bisons, ibex, reindeer, deer, and horses painted and filled in black, with single engraved outlines. The youngest are a group of finely engraved ibex, horse and bison from the Upper Magdalenian. The relative age was primarily determined by the overlapping of paintings, the last two groups could be of the same age, because they never overlap.

The cave starts with an ample vestibule, followed by a high passage which leads to the large, interior chamber with a steeply sloping floor. The cave is closed by an iron bar gate, and is not accessible. The only possibility to see the paintings is the replica at the Parque de la Prehistoria Teverga. There is also a digital 3D representation online, but unfortunately it is flash based and flash is no longer supported by browsers.

The cave is closed to the public, and cheese is also not produced inside any more. Nevertheless you can buy Queso Cueva de Llonín, which is named after the cave. The cheese is produced in Alles, the main town of the East Asturian municipality of Peñamellera Alta by the local cheese-making cooperative. It is a small cylindrical cheese made from cow's milk, weighing around 500g. It is creamy and pale yellow in colour, with a white mould coating similar to Camembert or Brie.