Hillfort, Bezławki
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
photo

An element of a medieval, Teutonic settlement with utility and defensive functions, flanked by two hills; a hillfort had once stood on the eastern hill, while the western hill was later used for the construction of a brick and stone castle (later converted into a church). The Bezławki village which lies within a depression between the hills had once served as a farm, forming a functionally integral part of the complex.

Location and description

The hillfort is located in the south-eastern part of the village, upon a hill which borders on the deep ravine formed by the Dajna river towards the south and the east. The site is located alongside the main road leading through the village, about 200 metres to the east from the bridge which spans the river. The defensive complex in Bezławki occupies an area of around 3 hectares. The surviving structure may be subdivided into three distinct sections: the courtyard and the remnants of the ramparts located at the top of the hill, the area below the top of the ramparts which forms a large platform as well as the structures at the foot of the hillfort. Despite the fact that the lower sections of the site have become indistinct with the passage of time, a large ancillary settlement can still be discerned in the western part thereof.

 

History

The site is located in the territory of the Bezławki village, chartered by the Teutonic Order; the name of the village has Prussian origins. The earliest stage of the functioning of the structure is connected with a primeval settlement about which little is known today except that it existed here at some point between the late bronze age and the early iron age. The second stage is the medieval period, from the second half of the 14th century onwards. The final phase of the existence of this settlement lasted from the late 16th century and throughout the 17th century.

The village of Bezławki was chartered on August 9, 1371, the charter having been issued by Ulrich Fricke, the commander (Komtur) of Bałgi. It must be remembered that the first works connected with the construction of the hillfort started in around 1360. The basic purpose was without a doubt a defensive one, the fort having been designed to protect the foreground of the castle which stood on the nearby hill. In 1402-1404, the Bezławki became the seat of Świdrygiełło - a defiant Lithuanian duke who chose to ally himself with the Teutonic Order. There is high likelihood that a part of the duke’s forces remained stationed inside the hillfort during those times. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the village of Bezławki and the surrounding area belonged to the von der Groeben family.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first excavation research on the hill fort in Bezławki was carried out on behalf of the Archaeology Institute of the University of Warsaw in 2000 by Thomas Nowakiewicz. The works performed were of an exploratory nature. The individual phases of the settlement’s existence and the chronology thereof were identified on the basis of the research performed. It has been established that the medieval phase is by far the easiest to discern, having been linked to the conquest of the tribal lands of Bartia by the Knights of the Teutonic Order and to the establishment of a defensive settlement in Bezławki. A number of historic artifacts have been found during the exploration of the site, including fragments of vessels representing three stages of settlement of the the site, two Teutonic bracteates, a fragment of a rosette clasp, the head of a quarrel, a glass bead and a fragment of a cylindrical padlock as well as numerous iron nails - remains of the wooden structures which have once formed parts of the hillfort. The research performed has failed to produce any evidence of the early medieval phase of the functioning of the site.

Limited access to the historic structure. The area is surrounded by a fence.

Prepared by Adam Mackiewicz, 6.12.2014.

 

Bibliography

  • Nowakiewicz T., Grodzisko w Bezławkach jako element średniowiecznej sieci osadniczej w Prusach krzyżackich [w:] Koperkiewicz A. (red.), Bezławki - ocalić od zniszczenia,  Gdańsk 2013, p. 235-248.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: 1360-1500
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bezławki
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district kętrzyński, commune Reszel - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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