Traditional body and administrative organ of the Valley of Roncal.

The General Council of the Valley of Roncal currently consists of 21 members, three for each village. After the municipal elections, and once the councils are formed, the corporations choose the three members who should represent them on the General Council of the Valley. Consequently, the sessions of the General Council are attended by the Mayor of each locality –or a person on his/her behalf- and two members per village.

The President is the Mayor of the locality in which the General Council meets, which is the village of Roncal, where the General Council has its headquarters, except in July and September, when the Council meets in Isaba and Urzainqui, respectively. So the Mayor of the village of Roncal is also considered the President of the General Council of the Valley of Roncal.

RONCAL, Valley of.

Etymology. No possible translation of the word Roncal can ever be taken as more than just a mere hypothesis. Of the names of the seven villages, this is perhaps the most complex when it comes to analysis from a linguistic perspective. The most complete explanation of the meaning of Roncal ever written is by Mikel Belasko in his book “Diccionario etimológico de los nombres de los pueblos, villas y ciudades de Navarra” (Etymological dictionary of the names of the villages, towns and cities of Navarre, 1996), which reads as follows:
“Phonetically, the name is reminiscent of others from the area in that the initial form –al has a Basque equivalent, –ari, both being derived from a common, older form, –ali. In Roncal Basque, its name was Erronkari, but in Salazar, and probably other valleys as well, it was Errongari.

Nothing very certain can be said about the first component, although there is no lack of interesting hypotheses. J. Corominas writes “…such as the frequent Runcal, in Pitasch, Prez, Schulein, Obersaxen, etc. (derived from runc(a) ‘fallow land’, from runcare), which brings to mind the name of the valley called Roncal in Spanish and Erronkari in Basque”. Julio Caro Baroja approaches the same idea through a relationship with the denonym runcones (Miro Suevorum rex bellum contra runcones movet), which some academics believe was the ancient name of the valley. Risco maintained that they were Vascones, basing himself on the testimony of Archbishop Rodrigo in which the names Ruchonia and Aragonia, “never-Muslim lands”, are mentioned. Father Moret, however, was against any identification between Ruconia and Roncal. The Dictionary of the Academy of History of 1802 does, indeed, accept the identification and provides an etymology of the word defending the idea that “roccones” means “great mountains”, i.e. “rock”, a Celtic word that only entered Latin at a late stage.

A little later, Julio Caro Baroja reminds us that the inhabitants call it Erronkari or Ronkari, and that R. Azkue tells us that “erronka” means “file” or “row” in Basque. He also adds that, according to B. Estornés Lasa’s interpretation, “erronk” means “brambles”’ in Roncal Basque, but that “Erronkari” is actually “ravine” or “cliff”. The idea of ravine, Baroja concludes, fits in quite well with that of “file”, and that of “brambles” with uncultivated land; in this regard, he points out that in the North of Italy, “ronco” is precisely “uncultivated land” and that the place name Roncate, near Como, is related to this word. In Basque, the people of Roncal are called “kallesak”.”

Despite Mikel Belasko’s detailed explanation, it should be said that the most popularly accepted translation, with the backing of the Roncal version of Basque, is “ravine” or “cliff”.

Another possible translation proffered, albeit incidentally, is “valley of the mills”.

Arroncal, Villa (1085, 1126), Arroncalensis abbas (997), Arronchal (1144), Roncal (1162, 1170, 1171, 1196, 1197), Roncali (1085, 1098, 1178), Ronchal (1125, 1170,1171), Ronchali (1098, 1102, 1124).