As you leave the village of Foncebadon, you pass what remains of the church and hospital built by Gaucelmo. After a short while, you come to the top of Monte Irago and the Cruz de Ferro (iron cross).
Where the cross is now located is thought to have originally been an altar built to the Roman god Mercury, whereas some stories say that it is where the Celts worshiped, either way the origins were pagan. The cross is believed to have been placed here in the 11th century by Gaucelmo.
Traditionally pilgrims have left a rock here, whether picked up along their journey or brought all the way from their homeland. Some of the rocks that have been left here contain little messages to loved ones or the name of the pilgrim's home town. In the holy year of 1982 the little Ermita de Santiago, that you see close by, was built. There is also now a huge sundial on the floor where you provide the shadow in order to tell the time.
It has become customary to lay a stone at the base of this cross while saying the prayer below; for many pilgrims this act also signifies the symbolic laying down of a particular life burden.
‘Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the cross, weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds some day when the deeds of my life are judged. let it be so.’