THE ISLAND

History

The Bimbaches also known as Bimbapes were the original pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the island of El Hierro until it was conquered by Juan de Bethencourt and incorporated into the Crown of Castille in the XVth century. The island was known to be populated from as early as the year 120. There are remains of rock carving and engraving in places such as El Julan, La Restinga and La Caleta on the island. There is also the place known as El Tagoror (the meeting place), that consists of various cave-rooms with shell-middens, sacrificial altars and countless domestic utensils that reflect the austere conditions of life at the time. They kept goats and pigs. Their rituals had to do with a sacred pig, known as the Aranfaibo and their gods were Eraoranzan and Moneiba.

Arbol Garoé  | http://www.flickr.com/photos/elhierroturismo/6961537223/El Hierro has been recorded in historical documents under the various names of Ombrion, Capraria, Pluvialia, Eseró and Hero through to its current name.  On the 6th January, 1546, an important discovery was made that was to change the whole history of the island. This was the decisive moment in time when the statue of the Virgen de los Reyes was discovered by its original patrons and owners, the shepherds of La Dehesa. Now the statue is a social and religious emblem of intense symbolism for the people of El Hierro. From the times of the first settlers, the people of El Hierro have suffered severe scarcity of water. This is the reason for which the sacred tree of the Garoé is of particular importance as a permanent supply of water. After it disappeared in a storm in 1610, the history of water on the island of El Hierro has been intimately linked to the scarce and scant sources of water on the island, the most important of which is the Fuente de Azofa, near to the town of Isora, now protected by regulation of the Cabildo. The people of El Hierro have kept their ancestral traditions, some of which have remained intact from the time of the Bimbaches, such as the use of rainpools and tidal ponds (means of saving water naturally), or the truly unique system known as “guásimos”, natural or carved out hollows in the tree trunks, designed to catch water and capable of holding up to one hundred litres.