The Covalanas cave is popularly known as the cave of the red deer. It is located on the northeast slope of Monte Pando, above the El Mirón cavity. The latter, used as a place of habitation for at least the last 45,000 years.
It was discovered in 1903 by Father Lorenzo Sierra, in collaboration with Hermilio Alcalde del Río, two key figures in archaeological research in Cantabria. Its discovery is part of the origins of prehistoric science and more specifically of Paleolithic art, as it is the second cavity with Paleolithic art discovered in the entire Cantabrian Coast after Altamira (in 1879).
It is a small cave that has two galleries that share an outdoor shelter area, apparently not used as a habitat space. One of its galleries, located to the right of the shelter, houses Paleolithic cave paintings.
After passing two small series of points, the first animal shapes appear, about 65 meters from the entrance. Moving forward from this point, the red figures follow one another on the right and left along the main gallery and inside a small diverticulum. A total of eighteen hinds, a stag, a horse, an aurochs, a possible hybrid type figure and three rectangular signs, in addition to small dots and lines that are arranged in friezes. Starting at 90 meters, and already in small spaces, the number of figures is drastically reduced, just one complete animal figure that contrasts with the numerous points and lines, scattered throughout the walls of this sector.
The layout using dotted contours, made with the fingers, predominates. This technical modality is very characteristic of some caves that are located between the Nervión river basin (Vizcaya) and the Sella river (Asturias), with the highest concentration recorded around the Asón river basin, although groups such as El Pendo or The Pasiega. This distribution shows the existence of human groups with strong graphic links between the different valleys, an example of social networks and contacts.
Its chronology, difficult to establish absolutely, seems to be located in an ancient phase, around 20,000 BC.
The freshness of the red color, the large size of the motifs, the dotted outline of the animal outline and the concentration of most of the figures in a well-defined area, surround the visitor in an environment of mystery and welcome. Entering the cave and in its darkness, it seems that the figures come to life as if they wanted to escape from the rock. It has been indicated that this reddish flock, restless in the shadows, has been a thousand-year-old witness to the life of Humanity.
It is located in the municipality of Ramales de la Victoria (Cantabria), in an area of Urgonian limestone from the Lower Cretaceous. It is located in the lower section of the Asón River valley, on the right bank of the valley formed by the Calera River, on the NE slope of Mount Pando or Haza and on the outskirts of the population center of Ramales de la Victoria.
It is located at about 320 meters above sea level. The landscape environment of the cavity is characterized by steep reliefs, high mountains and deep, boxed valley areas.
The Covalanas or Las Tools cave is structured in two galleries that share an entrance as a small portal from which the valleys of the Calera and Gándara rivers and part of the Sierra de Hornijo can be seen, with the San Vicente Peak as an accident. most prominent mountainous area.
After the entrance area, facing SW, the cavity forks giving access on the left to the Music Gallery and to the right to the Painting Gallery.
The Gallery of Paintings, in which almost the entire iconographic device is concentrated, presents a mainly rectilinear and monotonous route of about 110 m, the final part standing out for its labyrinthine and narrow character with cat flaps and tubes.
The Music Gallery presents a development of about 85 m. It is a sector, especially the final part and to a lesser extent the initial part, with quite a few speleothem formations spread across the floors, walls and ceiling.