1953: Return to Ataun

Finally, in October 1953, after 17 years in exile, he returned to his home town. A few days after, he opened the Chair mentioned in Salamanca, with a series of 10 conferences.

Meanwhile, his niece Pilar had built, using as a model the Bidartea house in Sara, the house where José Miguel lived till the day he died. She continues to live there. They called it Sara.

After his arrival, Barandiarán soon began a series of pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of Aranzazu, where he used to go with his nephews every year. During this first pilgrimage, going up from Katabera, crossing Urbia and while his nephews rested a while, he went ahead alone to the dolmen of Artzanburu and found it as they had left it after the excavation 35 years before. How could he not remember his friends and colleagues Aranzadi and Eguren. He prayed for them there, on that prehistoric tomb.

A year after his return, he started his archaeological excavations again in the cave of Urtiaga, under the patronage of the "Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi", right in the same place where he had left them 18 years before.

In 1956, he started those of the important settlement of Lezetxiki in Mondragon and in 1960, those of Aitzbitarte IV in Renteria. These settlements became at the same time schools of fieldwork, where the young prehistorians, who were finishing then their University studies (J. Altuna, J.M. Apellaniz, I. Barandiarán.....) learnt fieldwork techniques under the leadership of José Miguel.

This had a multifold effect. These young students started excavations by themselves and as they become professors, they had their own disciples and this guarantees and greatly increases the prehistoric research in the Basque Country.

The result of this research is, among others, the important findings of the rupestrian art sanctuaries of Altxerri (Aia) and Ekain (Deba), whose first studies were directed by José Miguel, with his disciples' help.

During this last stage of his life, until 1975, José Miguel carried out another group of excavation campaigns apart from those already mentioned of Urtiaga, Lezetxiki and Aitzbitarte not only in Guipuzcoa but also in Alava and Biscay.

On the other hand, he undertook the ethnographic research in the "Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi" and started the publishing of the "Anuario de Eusko Folklore", again published by this Society until 1981, date on which, according to José Miguel's will, it became part of the recently reappeared "Sociedad de Estudios Vascos", where the "Anuario" was created and published in its first stage.

At the same time, the magazine Munibe of the "Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi" restarted the publishing of the "Hojas de Eusko Folklore. Materiales y Cuestionarios". The project, that José Miguel had in mind for a long time soon appeared, to put together an ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country. The objective was to surpass the stage of isolated research and determine, after the elaboration of monographs in all the regions of the Country by following the same methods, the territorial areas of the different cultural expressions and thus to deepen the Basque cultural world more. At the same time, it was necessary to study the cultural transition which was going on in the Country. To carry on with this project, the invitation that José Miguel received in 1964 from the University of Navarre, asking him to take charge of a chair of Basque Ethnology at this University, was a great help. José Miguel accepted the invitation and thanks to this Chair, created the Etniker Group of Navarre, whose task was to carry out fieldwork research, following the methods established by Barandiarán in a new questionnaire.

Subsequently, these Etniker Groups have spread to Guipuzcoa, Biscay and Alava and their task, increased as it happened with the archaeological research, covers nowadays many places in our Country and that ambitious project of the Ethnographic Atlas is now taking shape.

All these works were rewarded at an academic level by three Doctorates "Honoris causa", granted to José Miguel by the Universities of the Basque Country (1978), Deusto (1986) and Complutense of Madrid (1987).

This is the life of José Miguel de Barandiarán. He went on working until the day he died. At the end of 1989, he published his work "Myths of the Basque Country" and having reached the age of 100 years, he was still working, correcting for printing, a series of ethnographic research carried out some years before in the small Navarrese village of Ezkurra.

José Miguel de Barandiarán died on the 21st of December 1991, 10 days before reaching the age of 102 years old.