( Michael Stephenson (centre) with (L to R) Christine Betterton-Jones, Ximo Bolufer, Milagros Uriate and Josep Castelló studying the plans.)
A unique collection of detailed site plans of over 50 castles in the Comarca have been donated to Xàbia’s Museum Soler Blasco by long-time British resident Michael Stephenson. The Amics del Museu (AMUX) arranged the donation and are currently putting together a team to prepare the material for exhibition.
Joaquim Bolufer, municipal archaeologist and director of the Museum, is delighted by the donation. “Many of the plans are the most accurate in existence . They will provide material for a unique exhibition of interest, not only to Xàbia residents, but to people all over the Marina Alta and Baixa and El Comtat. The Museum is very grateful to Michael for his generous donation”.
For many years Michael, together with friends Anne Scott and Ted Adams, visited the ruined castles in our region. “I was always curious about the number of castles I spotted from the road when I drove to Valencia. This combined with my love of walking provided the stimulus for the project,” says Michael. “My friends and I took photographs to indicate the topography and carefully measured the layout of the walls and other structures so we could prepare accurate scale drawings.”.
Members of the AMUX have already volunteered to prepare the material for exhibition. These include local archaeologist Josep Castelló Marí and Christine Betterton-Jones, who has already uploaded some of the plans on to the AMUX blog together with articles by Michael published in the now defunct “Valencia Life” magazine http://amuxabia.weebly.com/castellscastilloscastles.html
Retired librarian Milagros Uriate has volunteered her expertise in cataloguing the material. She trained as a librarian at the Biblioteco Nacional and worked in the Biblioteca del Institute Geográfico Nacional and the Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “I realised that my training and experience in cataloguing would be very useful to the project”, commented Milagros, “and it would also be something that I would enjoy doing. I have just retired to Xàbia. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the history of our area.”
The AMUX group has started work on sorting the 12 archive boxes of material that Michael Stephenson donated and would welcome more assistance. No professional experience is necessary. For example, apart from cataloguing, people will be needed to take new photographs, research background information, write and translate the exhibition texts. Anyone interested in getting involved should email the AMUX at firstname.lastname@example.org