Chimneys and legends: The scarecrow-witch in the chimneys of Aragon, Spain

Chimeneas en Aragón

Chimneys in Aragón

Today, in Panadero, we give a twist to our usual content and we tell you one of the most special legends of Aragon (Spain), where the protagonists are… chimneys!

The legend

The popular legends of Aragon tell that, at night, witches used to cross the skies with their brooms. These witches would enter Aragonese homes “to do their business” and it is said that, as the doors of the homes and windows were closed, the only entrance that was always open was the chimney exit on the roofs of the houses.

To prevent this from happening and the witches from entering, the citizens began to place “scarecrow-witch” on the top of their chimneys. These “scarecrow-witch” are vertical stones that protrude from the top of the chimney flue. Sometimes these stones are shaped like crosses, cones, animals or even terrifying-looking creatures.  Curious, isn’t it?

Chimney with head in AragonHead in a chimney

The antiquity of these chimneys

These scarecrow-witch are made of anthropomorphic stones and are very porous. They have a hole in the centre that made the air whistle when passing through them. They are found in the old fireplaces of Aragonese homes and, normally, with the ash that remained when they put out the fire, they used to draw crosses or symbols in the chimney chamber before going to sleep, to scare them away if they managed to get in.

Animal in the chimneys of Aragon

Can we still see these chimneys today?

In some villages of Aragon, we can see different types of constructions. Depending on the area we visit, we will see different styles of scarecrows: for example, in the area of the Sierra de Guara, they used to place pots with water that symbolised the purification of the home. In other areas we can see dolls and animals with terrifying faces or decorative balls.

Today, the custom of topping the chimney flues with these objects is still preserved. New constructions continue to respect this legend and some chimneys are topped with an object or figure.

Legends and chimneys

It may be that fire and its essence are the authors of this union. The idea that fire conveys something magical or the tradition of telling stories of ghosts and legends around a bonfire may be the trigger for many of these picturesque stories.

Fireplaces are part of many legends and, in most cases, play an essential role in the story.

Source and images:


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