A township with history

The history of Rasines in stages

Lower Paleolithic

It is confirmed the human presence in the municipal term around 100.000 B.C. in the Lower Paleolithic after discoveries of lithic material found in La Brena and in the vicinity of the Hermitage of Santa Isabel (in Rocillo).

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Upper Paleolithic

The transit between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, around 35.000 B.C. we find it at Cueva del Mazo, in Ojebar, where abundant pieces of marl and flint appear, in association with remains of fauna, goat, deer, bear and bovid.

The most important archaeological deposit of this time is at Cueva del Valle, in Barrio de Helguera where numerous flint tools and works of movable art corresponding to the late Magdalenian culture have been found, highlighting a baton made in deer antler, decorated with a deer head and several anthropomorphic. This piece is considered one of the masterpieces of movable art in the region. Only a sample of it is preserved, since the original disappeared during the civil war in 1936. Decorated bird bones, double-row harpoons with simple decorations, punches and needles were also recovered.

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Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic Periods

Within these periods, from 10.000 B.C. to 5.000 B.C. Azilian fits right in, a culture of the Epipaleolithic era. The most remarkable thing about these periods, at an artistic level are the painted boulders, of which two were found at Cueva del Valle. In this way, being the first cave where a level of this period is verified.

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During this period the caves are still utilized as a room, a burial place or as locations dedicated to worship.

The most important evidences corresponding to this period are located in the hill situated in the eastern area of the municipal term, between Surbias, Lodos, and Mezquita. The most important vestige is the burial structure known as dolmen, in Alto de Lodos. Also, in Mezquita there are two structures similar to the previous one.

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Metal Age

The Metal Age has left evidence through deposits of ceramic vessels and burials in various caves located around La Brena.

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Iron age

To this date, no remains corresponding to this age have been located in the municipality.

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Roman occupation

The first archaeological evidence found of the Roman presence in Rasines is an “ara votiva” or altar, which was found in the vicinity of Cueva del Valle, located at the Museum of Prehistory of Cantabria (MUPAC). Also, in 2004 a sandstone slab with an inscription dedicated to Jupiter, the main god of Roman mythology, was found on Mount Hayal.

Rome's interest in these lands was perhaps due to the abundance of minerals, such as iron, blende and calamine, easily extracted when on the surface. Likewise, the establishment of agricultural holdings is achievable at this time. Under the church of San Andrés, dated ceramics between the years of 424-604 A.C. have been found, which constitute one of the few Visigoth evidences in the open air in Cantabria. Bajo la iglesia de San Andrés se han localizado cerámicas fechadas entre el 424-604 que constituyen unas de las escasas evidencias visigodas al aire libre en Cantabria.

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Middle Age

The first written news about the municipality of Rasines are found in the Cartulary of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Puerto (Santoña), in the 11th century, on the occasion of the transfer of various lands in favor of the monastery in 1073.

During the Middle Age, various organizations were created and structured. Thus, around the 11th century, the residents were grouped in villas that have the valleys as a settlement region, around the cultivation areas.

In 1137 a mention is made of a¨Alfoz de Rasines ̈ which refers to the existence of a circumscription that includes several towns under the command of the same lord, in which Cerbiago was included. A determining document in the configuration of the territory will be the Jurisdiction granted to Laredo by Alfonso VIII, in 1201, setting the limits, among others, in Cereceda and the Mill of Lavandera. From this date the councils of Rasines and Cereceda will be administratively separated until the second half of the 19th century. In addition to the formation of councils, and superimposing on them, various parishes are created that will also serve as binders for the settlement.

Between the 12th and 13th centuries, the Hermitage of San Esteban was built in Rocillo. There is also documentary evidence from the end of the 15th century relating to the churches of San Andrés in Rasines and San Sebastian in Ojebar. At this time the first borderlines were established between the councils that took advantage of the geographical accidents to mark the separation between municipalities. 

From that moment on, the defense of the common forests became one of the priorities, mainly due in part to the existence of a subsistence economy that depends directly on them. In addition to serving to confine cattle for pasture, they are a source of obtaining raw materials such as firewood for the construction of houses and utensils, collection of fruits, brushwood, ferns, firewood for homes and others.

In the 14th century the figure of the Corregidor (sort of ruler) was created, named by the monarch, and under whose jurisdiction there were several locations, in this way the territory was framed within the Corregimiento (village) of the Four Villas of Costa de la Mar, forming part of the called Gathering of Parayas, made up of the councils of Rasines, Ojebar, Ramales and Gibaja.

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Modern Age

The territory and the political and administrative organization of such municipality appear already fully determined at the beginning of the century of the Modern Age, and it will last until the 19th century. The council is fully defined as a civil administrative unit and the parish is in charge of the religious order. The first one will dictate ordinances where all aspects of common life are collected, formation of government structures and administration of common goods, in addition to legislating in the moral order. 

At this time the quality of life increases, as well as the population, due to the introduction of new crops, first corn in the 18th century and then potatoes in the 19th century.

Throughout these centuries, ironworks and pile drivers will be built, which take advantage of the water courses and which were used for the manufacture of iron, which shipment was made through the port of Limpias. In addition, numerous mills are built, some of which have survived to this day.

At this stage, the master stonemasons flourish, taking part in the main cathedral works carried out in the main Castilian cities and La Rioja. The most outstanding architectural monuments in Rasines were erected at this time, which denotes a certain economic revival, and allows the introduction of new exemplars or ways of building that the master stonemasons bring back.

In the 15th century, due to the provisions given by the Catholic Monarchs, the road to Castilla was proceed to be repaired with the aim of facilitating the exit of goods from Castilian lands to the port of Laredo.

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The Contemporary Age

The 19th and 20th centuries represent a notable change, on the one hand the territories are definitively established, even as we know them today, on the other, transformations in public powers, ways of life and economic structure are also specifically defined.

It will be in the 19th century when the municipality of Rasines is created, which at first was made up of only two councils united by the possession of a common mountain: Rasines and Ojebar. To reconstruct this period, it is necessary to take into account the fire that occurred at the end of the 20th century at Casa Consistorial (city hall), which destroyed the municipal archive and documentation relating to the Rasines Council.

At the end of the 19th century, the first advances of the industrial era were appreciated, thus, in 1897, a land was sold next to the Ason River for the construction of a factory by Electra Montañesa, when the systematic exploitation of mining resources had begun some decades before.

In 1896, the route of the railway between Santander and Bilbao was carried out, which represents a great advance in communications. Taking advantage of the proximity of the railway line, in 1928, and next to the Ason River, the Swiss food multinational Nestlé was installed, which was a determining factor in the modification of the livestock production system. From these dates on, the Friesian cow as specialized cattle in milk production is introduced into the province, in order to provide raw material to the factory.

Since the war carried out in 1936, there are interesting remains of fortifications around Cerreo, trenches at the top of San Juan, shelters, such as the one near the Church of Ojebar, also being as places of refuge some caves in Villaparte, Cueva del Valle and Santa Cruz. In addition, interesting machine gun nests are preserved for the control of the road from Cadalso to Ampuero in the Perejita area.

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