Roughly sculpted granite pigs (known as porcas or berrões) are found all over northeastern Portugal and neighbouring Spain. Most date back a couple of thousand years, and their origins are obscure, though they are thought to have been Celtic fertility idols. The wild boar certainly holds sway in popular culture in these parts, so it’s not hard to see where the inspiration lay in the earliest carvings. The most famous example of a porca is in the small town of Murça, off the IP4, halfway between Vila Real and Mirandela, where it sits on top of a granite plinth above a flowerbed in the town centre. Pig and town, incidentally, give their name to a ubiquitous Douro table wine, Porça de Murça (made by Real Companhia Velha), while the pig is in profile on Murça’s adega cooperativa (wine co-op), the Caves de Murça. So there’s no excuse not to drink the health of Portugal’s pagan pigs.

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