If you drive – or walk on the Santiago pilgrimage path – across northern Spain, you will always be able to spot three or four churches across the vast plain at any one time. Why? Well, part of the reason is that this was the route for pilgrims visiting the burial spot of James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela. Some of these churches may have been isolated monastic communities but I suspect that others once had villages round them that have disappeared over time. So they were not always as mysteriously isolated as they now seem.