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Hillfort - Zabytek.pl


woj. lubelskie, pow. chełmski, gm. Wierzbica-gmina wiejska

The hillfort is one of the very few great lowland hillforts which have survived in the region.

One of the most unique features of the site today is the extremely complex system of earthen fortifications with stone cladding on both sides of the ramparts - a structure which must have required an immense collective effort to complete at the time but which has clearly rewarded its builders with its resulting efficiency. Today, Busówno remains the easternmost site which can trace its roots so far back and which features this kind of stone revetments on its earthen ramparts - a feature typical of the western part of Slavic lands.

Location and description

In the older literature on the subject, the site is referred to as the Busówno hillfort; today, it is included in the administrative boundaries of the Busówno Kolonia. The site is located about 200 metres south of the cluster of buildings which form the Busówno Kolonia village when calculating in a straight line, along the road leading towards Stołpie and Lublin. It is situated on a small hill, in a valley of a nameless watercourse surrounded by meadows.

The hillfort is comprised of two circular, concentric earthen ramparts surrounding the inner yard. The area occupied by the hillfort within the boundaries of the outer rampart is about 7 hectares in total, with the outer rampart forming a circle with the diameter of over 300 metres. It is only in the eastern section of the site that both ramparts are still easily discernible; in the southern rampart only the outer rampart remains, while in the northern and western sections the ramparts have since been completely obliterated. The height of the surviving part of the outer rampart is about 0.5 metres, with the structure being from 10 to 15 metres wide. The height of the inner rampart is approximately 0.8 metres, with the width of 15 - 18 metres. The ramparts are accompanied by wide and relatively shallow trenches or moats. The surface of the inner yard within the boundaries of the inner rampart is about 3.2 hectares. In the south-eastern section of the yard there is a mound-like elevation, its dimensions being 40 x 50 metres. The mound, about 2-3 metres tall, has later served as the site of the 19th-century tserkva that was built upon its plateau. Today, no traces of the tserkva remain to be seen, with just a few headstones surviving in the former cemetery. At the present stage, the site is occupied by a farm, arable fields and meadows criss-crossed by melioration ditches, which contributes to the gradual degradation of the entire site.


The hillfort remained inhabited during the early Middle Ages, functioning in two distinct stages: between the 9th and the 10th century and between the 12th and the 13th century. During the 19th century, the surviving motte was used as a site for a tserkva, with the surrounding area being adapted to serve as a cemetery. Even today, the graves of high-ranking Orthodox officials from the early 19th century can still be found on the site.

The existence of the Busówno hillfort is confirmed by a mention made in 1248 in the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle. A note on the “hillfort in Bussowno” was also included in the “Geographic Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland”.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The verification and exploratory survey of the site was conducted by Jerzy Cichomski, Andrzej Hunicz and Edmund Mitrus in 1978. In the course of the survey, a total of four research excavations were made: one on the outer rampart, one on the inner rampart, one near the outer rampart and one in the middle of the now-vanished hillfort. In the years 2004-2005, another series of excavation works was performed, this time by A. Buko, T. Dzieńkowski and S. Gołub. A total of 5 excavations have been made, covering the outer rampart, the inner rampart as well as a part of the suspected moat, the inner yard of the hillfort as well as the south-western part of the plateau atop the mound. A series of exploratory drillings has also been made on the site.

The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by an unknown author in 1979.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by Halina Wróbel in 1985.

As a result of the excavations made, the southern section of the outer rampart was thoroughly examined. It was originally erected as an earthen structure with the height of 0.8 metres and the width of up to 7 metres, reinforced by an outer coating made of clay. In the central part of the rampart, negatives of the lower parts of overground wooden structures have been found, most likely pointing towards the existence of a box-like reinforcing structure about 2.5 metres wide, filled with loam soil. In addition, the rampart was also reinforced from the outside by a so-called dry (mortarless) wall about 1.5 - 1.6 metres wide and 0.4 metres thick, made of medium-sized sandstone rocks with no mortar of any kind. Below and between the stones numerous pieces of charred wood have been found, which proves that there had originally been wooden structures which liked the wall and the box ramparts. The moat features gently tapering sides, its width and depth being 4-5 metres and about 1 metre respectively. The exposed layer of loamy soil with pieces of rotten wood proves that the sides of the moat had originally been secured against the eroding action of water. The structure of the inner rampart has also been examined; it is believed that the inner rampart was constructed as a result of the outer trench being built, its sides strengthened with fascines. Later on, the soil extracted from the moat was used to build a loamy earthwork the inner slope of which was reinforced by a wooden structure. All that remained of this structure when the site was examined by researchers were the negatives of large posts arranged in two rows. On the inner side of the base of the inner rampart, the researchers found traces of a wood-paved street; in the inner yard of the former hillfort, two man-made structures have been found: a storage hollow and a half-earth lodge. The residential structure had a surface area of approximately 30 square metres; it was designed on a rectangular floor plan and was a post-and-beam structure originating from the 14th-15th century - most likely the priest’s house that had been mentioned in archival sources. In the central part of the yard, remnants of an earth lodge about 1.5 metres deep have also been identified. The exploration of the south-western slope and a part of the plateau atop the mound revealed a fragment of a skeleton burial ground. A total of 10 burials have been identified, the earliest dating back to the 15th century, while the most recent one is believed to have taken place in the 17th century. Some of the deceased were buried in wooden coffins. Beneath the graves, layers that form the remnants of an early medieval rampart have been found, the rampart having in turn been built over structures that formed part of a settlement dating back to the 9th-10th century. It has been determined that, in order for the rampart to be erected, the sides of the mound have been deliberately shaped to form a pair of horizontal terraces. It has also been confirmed that a moat about 8 metres wide and between 1 and 1.4 metres deep had originally surrounded the mound. All of the excavations yielded large quantities of moveable artefacts, mostly in the form of fragments of pottery (more than 5 thousand pieces), metal artefacts and numerous animal bones.

In the course of the surface surveys performed within the framework of the “Archaeological Picture of Poland” research programme, traces of Stone Age and early Bronze Age settlements have been found; there were also remnants of a late-mediaeval settlement, identified on the basis of three fragments of clay vessels.

The hillfort is open to visitors upon prior arrangement with the owner.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 20-06-2014.


  • Buko A., Dzieńkowski T., Osadnictwo wczesnośredniowieczne polsko-ruskiego pogranicza. Grodzisko w Busównie w świetle nowszych badań archeologicznych, “Sprawozdania Archeologiczne” 2008, vol. 60, pp. 325-367.
  • Dzieńkowski T. “Poleskie" pogranicze kulturowe w XI-XIII wieku. In: E. Banasiewicz-Szykuła (ed.), Badania archeologiczne na Polesiu Lubelskim. Lublin 2006, 119-134
  • Gurba J., Grodziska Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 1976, p. 11, map: p. 38, item. 4.
  • Mitrus E., Busówno, gm. Wierzbica, woj. chełmskie. "Informator Archeologiczny. Badania rok 1978.", 1979, p. 159 n.
  • Nasonow A., Russkaya zemla i obrazovanye tierritorii dnevnerusskovo gosudarstva, Moscow 1951, p. 129.
  • Poppe A., Gród Wołyń, “Studia Wczesnośredniowieczne”, 1958, vol. 4, pp. 282, 288-289.
  • Skibiński S., Obiekty archeologiczne z terenu powiatu Chełm w opisach archiwalnych, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, vol. XXXV, 1970, pp. 103-118.
  • Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, 1880-1904, Warsaw vol. I, p. 481, keyword: Bussowno
  • Zieliński W., Etat des recherches sur les fortifications ḿedíevales dans la ŕegion de Lublin [in:] Memoires Archeologiques, Lublin 1985, p. 152.
  • Żaki A., Archeologia Małopolski wczesnośredniowiecznej, Wrocław 1974, pp. 64-65, no. 255

Category: hillfort

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_A_06_AR.1247, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_06_AR.2082425