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Barruelo de Santullán (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-04-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Barruelo de Santullán, as prescribed - Image by "Valdavia" (Wikimedia Commons), 9 April 2011

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Presentation of Barruelo de Santullán

The municipality of Barruelo de Santullán (1,479 inhabitants in 2010; 5,330 ha; municipal website) is located 110 km from Palencia. The municipality is made of the villages of Barruelo de Santullán (capital), Cillamayor (72 inh.), Matabuena (5 inh.), Nava de Santullán (22 inh.), Porquera de Santullán (88 inh.), Revilla de Santullán (31 inh.), Santa María de Nava (17 inh.), Verbios (24 inh.), Villabellaco (17 inh.) and Villanueva de la Torre (18 inh.).

Barruelo was part of the alfoz (group of villages) of Aguilar de Campoo, chartered on 14 March 1255 by King Alfonso X. The village remained very small, with less than 50 inhabitants, until the middle of the 19th century.

The exploitation of coal mines made for nearly one century of Barruelo the capital of the Palencia coal mining basin. The tradition says that a local priest named Ciriaco del Rio, once returning home at night, stumbled again a black shiny stone. He showed the stone to the Collantes brothers, who already exploited a lignite mine in Las Rosas; "Compañía Hermanos Collantes" (Collantes Brothers Company) started coal extraction in Barruelo in 1845; the Castile Canal, then managed by a state-subsidized company, was used to transport the extracted coal to Valladolid, from which it was shipped to Madrid via the national roads. In 1856, the Collantes sold most of the mines to "Crédito Mobiliario Español"; the owner of several industries highly dependent on coal, the company modernized the production and built in 1864 a railway line between Quintanilla de las Torres and Orbó; the line speeded up coal shipping to Madrid and made the coal cheaper than the León coal. The Province of Palencia became the second coal producer in Spain and a main competitor of Britain for the supply of coal to Madrid.
In 1879, the Barruelo mines were sold to "Compañía de los Ferrocarriles del Norte" (Northern Railway Company), supplier of gas to Madrid; most of the coal production was used by the locomotives of the railway company. The modernized mines and factories employed in Barruelo 845 workers producing some 100,000 tons of coal per year. Several new boroughs were built in the early 20th century to house the miners' households. The paradoxical association of paternalist capitalism and social struggle significantly increased the income of the workers. In 1922, the railway company created "Sociedad Anónima Minas de Barruelo" (Barruelo Mining Company) to manage the mines separately from the railways. Galleries were dug at increased depth, which caused several accidents, the Barruelo mines being then deemed the most dangerous, but the most productive, in Spain. In 1929, the Barruelo Mining Company took over the neighboring mines of Orbó, becoming the sole mining company in Palencia Basin. The population of Barruelo peaked in 1930 with some 9,000 inhabitants; the miners were then the proud "lords of Madrid lightning" and "lords of the northern locomotives".

In 1941, the Spanish railway companies were merged into the national company RENFE. The Barruelo mines were also nationalized, their whole production being used to supply steam to the locomotives of the RENFE. In spite of the digging of new shafts, the Barruelo mines went in deficit, being refunded every year by RENFE. After the electrification of railway, the mines lost their sole customer and were sold in 1966 to "SA Hullera Vasco Leonesa" (Basquo-Leonese Collieries). The revamping of the factory and the decrease in the number of workers did not prevent the mines to wind up; in December 1968, the Council of Ministers validated the closure plan of the mines, which started in January 1969 and ended in 1972. The factories were sold to "Altos Hornos de Vizcaya" (Biscay Smelting Furnaces), which did not reopen the mines as expected. The set up in January 1980 of "Hullas de Barruelo" (Barruelo Colliery) did not prevent the eventual closure of the mines, which occurred on 1 September 2005. The factories were transferred to the last active mine in Palencia Province, located in Velilla del Río Carrión, ending more than 150 years of coal-mining activity in Barruelo.

Ivan Sache, 9 April 2011

Symbols of Barruelo de Santullán

The flag of Barruelo de Santullán is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 22 June 1998 by the Palencia Provincial Government, signed on 29 June 1998 by the President of the Government, and published on 10 July 1998 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 130 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular flag with proportions 1:1, with horizontal stripes crimson and white. In the center of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms in full colors.

The Royal Academy of History accepted the proposed flag without any objection, recalling that the square shape used for this and other municipal flags derives from an erroneous interpretation of the word cuadra in the Codex de las Partidas.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 2000, 197, 2: 360]

The flag actually used (photo, photo) does not fully match the legal prescription, being rectangular and with the black writing "BARRUELO DE SANTULLAN" around the coat of arms in the white part of the flag.

The coat of arms (municipal website) of Barruelo de Santullán is prescribed by a Royal Decree adopted in 11 August 1978.
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Gules three bends argent charged with seven ermines sable three in the central bend and two in the outer bends, 2. Argent a pickaxe and a shovel sable per saltire. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown closed.

The adoption of a municipal coat of arms was decided on 22 January 1975 by the Municipal Council, who commissioned Álamo Salazar, the Official Chronicler of Palencia Province, to propose a coat of arms.
Barruelo is the most important settlement of the region of Santullán, originally known as San Julián, for a sanctuary dedicated to St. Julian, Bishop of Cuenca, located near Barruelo. Accordingly, the arms should bear an allegoric representation of the sanctuary, for instance a castle surmounted with a cross. The coal-mining industry that made of Barruelo a main industrial town in the north of Palencia Province should be represented, too: since there is no heraldic charge representing coal or mines, the use of a field sable (black) was suggested. Hernán-Ruiz de Castañeda, once lord of the area, should be represented by the bends he used on his arms. A bend or bend sinister gules (red) should be used to symbolize the courage of the villagers in harsh times, such as experienced during the mining crisis. The early settlers of the regions could be represented by a field vert (green), representing agriculture and cattle-breeding. A star could be used to represent Barruelo as the main place in the region of Santullán.
On 26 July 1976, the Royal Academy of History rejected the representation of the sanctuary by a castle, since no fortified sanctuary existed at the time. The Academy recommended the use of a shovel and pickaxe as the symbols of coal production. The Academy corrected the arms of Hernán-Ruiz de Castañeda as "Gules three bends argent charged with seven ermine sable three in the central bend and two in the outer bends".

More information must be available in Faustino Narganes Quijano's Algunas notas históricas para la adopción de la bandera municipal de Barruelo de Santullán (History notes for the adoption of the municipal flag of Barruelo de Santullán, 1988).

Ivan Sache, 11 February 2015