When the year 1889 had almost come to an end, more specifically on the last day of that year, Mr. José Miguel de Barandiarán was born in the Perune-Zarre country house in Ataun. He was the last of Francisco Antonio Barandiarán and María Antonia Ayerbe's nine children. Two of the five sons had died in childhood and three of the four daughters had become nuns.
José Miguel's mother took charge of her son's religious education. He learned to read and write at the school of the village. The texts were in Spanish and children did not know this language. The practice of the ring was severely carried out. This practice consisted of passing a ring to the child who spoke in Euskera, and the child who had the ring at the end of the day was punished. Children tried to accuse their schoolmates in order to pass them the ring and therefore escape the punishment.
In autumn of next year he went to the Seminary of Vitoria, located close to the Old Cathedral, where he studied Philosophy and Theology. He was interested in all the subjects and he devoted himself to them all intensively. At the same time and by himself, he studied Teaching.
It was during the summer of 1916 when Barandiarán made progress with his investigations definitively. Together with a neighbour from S. Gregorio, he climbed the rock of Jentilbaratza, where he discovered a medieval castle mentioned in Ataun by Jiménez de Rada. This castle was believed to be situated, according to Gorosabel, in the urban part of S. Gregorio.
We arrive in this way to 1936. In July, Aranzadi and Barandiarán were carrying out the ninth group of excavations in Urtiaga (Itziar). On the 18th they knew about General Franco's insurrection. They thought that in a few days the rebellion would be over, and therefore they went on with their excavations till the 24th, although the atmosphere of tension was growing and the movement of people trying to escape was increasing. Some people sheltered in the same pension where José Miguel was staying.