There is something oddly fascinating about the shadowy Visigothic Kingdom that ruled Spain before the Muslim conquest. The Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella were lauded in courtly song as the descendants of los Visigodos, and my maternal grandmother's family claimed a Visigothic bloodline of its own which may or may not be supported by facts. The only portrait I have ever seen of Grand Admiral Ruy Pérez (b. 642, fl. 680, one of about a million people in the family tree named Rodrigo or Ruy; family tradition insists there be at least one kicking around at all times) is an eighteenth-century engraving that fits him out with a rather unlikely full-bottomed wig and Bourbon court dress and turns the landscape around his humble watchtower at Villanañe into the gardens of Versailles.Santa María de Lara. It was off the main road, and further off past the tiny village of Quintanilla de las Viñas, which I remember as little more than a knot of houses and for-sale signs amid rolling hills and high grass. The custodian, a fellow leaning on his motorbike, met us, though we only had about ten minutes as he had to get back to his girlfriend in town.