Percurso da Serra Amarela

NAME OF INTEREST - Wolf trap (Fojo de Sonhe)

CONCEPT - Cultural Heritage

‘Fojos’ are old traps for catching wolves. This animal which today is accepted, respected and protected, was, through many centuries, the subject of persecution. This attitude was motivated both by the fear that the animal instilled in the hearts of hillfolk through its association with the world beyond and also through the attacks that it would make on the animals grazing on the hills of Northern Portugal. The name ‘fojo’ was initially used for simple traps, excavated pits, covered with branches but subsequently the name became used for a variety of far more sophisticated traps. Some are formed by extensive walls, initially parallel, which, following the topographic relief, lead into a narrow opening which gives unavoidable access to a deep pit (into which the wolf was lured).
In this area the walls of the ‘fojos’ are constructed with granite blocks or make use of natural walls (formed by rock outcrops) and can extend for hundreds of metres. The Fojo de Sonhe, which can be seen from this point, is formed by a wall whose partner, to the north, is made up by the impassible granite barrier of the mountainside where it is located, the drystone granite walling only having been built where there were openings in the natural wall. Another peculiarity of this structure is the absence of a pit at the confluence of the two walls (the natural wall to the north and constructed wall to the south). In fact there was no need to build a pit because, in this case there is a natural trap: a drop of several meters embellished with perilous blocks of granite which achieved the same results as a pit.