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Bono Iacobus - English Way from A Coruña
The Complete Way
The English Way was one of the most frequently used pilgrimage routes in medieval Europe to reach Compostelaalong the coast. Pilgrims from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the north of France and mainly England, Ireland and Scotland reached the north of Spain by ship, entering Galicia via the ports of Ribadeo, Viveiro, Ferrol or A Coruña. These latter two ports, situated on a a wide gulf the Romans called Portus Magnum Artabrorum, became traditionally consolidated as the starting points of the two alternatives of the English Way. Seafarers reached the port guided by the light beam from the Torre de Hércules, a Roman lighthouse that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2009.
Once on land, both alternative routes converge in the parish of Bruma, in the municipal district of Mesía, and they go all the way to Compostela crossing the lands of Cambre, Carral, Mesón do Vento, Ordes and Oroso, to name but a few.
There is documentary evidence of pilgrimages from the Nordic countries and the British Isles dating back to the 12th century. Hence, in the year 1147 a squadron of crusaders landed in the port of A Coruña. The squadron was on its way to the Holy Land and, before taking part in the conquest of Lisbon in support of the first king of Portugal in his fight against the Arabs, it made a stopover in Santiago to visit the Apostle's tomb.
From 1154 to 1159, an Icelandic monk called Nicholas Bergsson left written testimony of the first sea voyage from Iceland to the Kiel Channel, on the border between Denmark and Germany, and from there on foot to Rome, on the way to Jerusalem. From then on, this would be the route used by the majority of pilgrims from the Nordic countries on their way to Santiago.
Subsequently, during the Hundred Years' War ( 14th - 15th centuries), it was the British who used their ships to reach Santiago; their presence is evidenced by the coins and pieces of pottery found during excavations in the cathedral.
Another fact demonstrating the importance of the British pilgrimage is the offering of such important gifts as a portable alabaster altarpiece, showing five scenes in the life of St. James the Apostle, which was given to the cathedral by the clergyman John Goodyear in 1456.
The origin of the pilgrims that did that route is also certified through the deaths registered and kept in the archives of the chapels and cemeteries of the monasteries and hospitals along the way, and in particular those belonging to the Sancti Spiritus Hospital Order, which were amalgamated to those of the Franciscan Order as of the 14th century.
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