Nagore is a town located near the Spanish-French border. The Basque surname Nagore has it’s origin in this beautiful Northern Spain village. Nagore is the next stop from Roncesvalles on the famous route of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the most revered center in all of Europe’s Catholic tradition after the Vatican City in Rome. Every year, and particularly during the Holy Year “Año Santo” thousands of pilgrims make the centuries-old trip to the Catedral de Santiago, with Roncesvalles and Nagore being Spain’s starting points in the voyage.
Roncesvalles and it’s neighboring towns also share the historic distinction of the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778, during the battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne‘s rear guard was destroyed by Basque tribes. The small collegiate church contains several curious relics associated with Roland. The battle is said to have been fought in the picturesque valley known as Valcarlos, which is now occupied by a hamlet bearing the same name, and in the adjoining pass of Ibañeta (Roncevaux Pass). Both of these are traversed by the main road leading north from Roncesvalles to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the French Basque Country.
In Nagore you can find the Church of Arce, which dates back to the Middle Ages and was built in the Romanic style. It remains a beautiful example of the traditional architecture of the time. Every year, local residents from this and other neighboring towns celebrate their local festivity of the Holy Virgin of Orreaga by marching to the church dressed in tunics and carrying wooden crosses. For the last 2 km of the walk, the faithful carry the crosses horizontally held above their heads with their arms wide open, signifying the events of Christ’s Passion.
The Nagore surname has its obvious origin in the geographic name Nagore, Navarre, and it is likely that the lineage of nobility of this surname dates back to the times of Charlemagne and its defeat at Roncesvalles by the Basque people. We have researched and made a rendition of the NAGORE COAT OF ARMS.
It is described as follows: “On a field of siver, a red comet”. In heraldry a comet is represented as a star with a tail and its meaning is uncertain. Some historians believe that comets were seen as harbingers of devastating invasion, war, and conquest; also may signify the remembrance of a great battle, which would make perfect sense in the light of the historic events of that region of Spain and Charlemagne’s invasion.
In the book Halley’s comet in history and astronomy By Edwin Emerson it is mentioned that a comet was observed during Charlemagne’s coronation. It was Halley’s comet, and it became a symbol of his power and all-conquering army. Placing the charge of the comet on the shield then, may have the meaning of taking that power back, being that Roncesvalles represented the Emperor’s worse defeat.
The word Nagore in Basque has several meanings, including “High Pasture”, “Grain Field”, and also “Divine Place” or “God’s Chosen Place”, or even “Chosen Lady”, referring to the Virgin of Orreaga. The name Nagore has also become a popular female first name in the Basque country as well as in Spain and France.
by Fernando Ybarra – The Basque Genealogy Homepage