Barrow cemetery, Chodlik
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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An early medieval barrow cemetery used for the purposes of the burial of cremated remains - one of the best-preserved sites of its kind anywhere in Poland and the only necropolis of this size to be found in the Chodelska Valley so far. Along with the nearby hillfort in Chodlik, it forms part of an extensive settlement complex from the early medieval period. The site - which has been subject to excavation research from 2010 onwards - has not only changed our knowledge of the local funerary customs, but also provided the impetus for the commencement of research on the early medieval funerary rites among the Slavic peoples.

Location and description

The barrow cemetery is located in the Kowalonka river valley, on the sandy hills overgrown with trees, about 1.5 kilometres to the south-east from the clustered buildings which form the village of Chodlik and approximately 2 kilometres south of the Chodlik hillfort. The site forms part of the area under the administration of the State Forest Holding (Kraśnik Forest District).

The cemetery consists of 29 burial mounds, most of them well-preserved. The mounds vary in terms of size, with most of them being from 8 to 15 metres in diameter and from about 50 to 170 centimetres in height. The tumuli are arranged in four tight clusters with a total area of about 3.5 hectares, situated at a distance of 100 and 500 metres from one another respectively. The first cluster of burial mounds has the surface of approx. 0.98 hectare and includes 12 barrows in total; the second one occupies an area with a surface of 2.23 hectares and has 13 barrows in total, while the third one - with a surface of about 0.3 hectares - consists of a mere 4 burial mounds and is intersected by a forest road. The site of the cemetery is overgrown by a mixed forest and rather sparse undergrowth. Some of the tumuli have been damaged due to the ignorant exploitation of the surrounding area or as a result of the presence of animal burrows.

History

The barrow cemetery located in the area which today forms part of the village of Chodlik originates from the early Middle Ages (8th - 9th century). The barrow cemetery in Chodlik was discovered in 2007. Until the commencement of archaeological research, there were no mentions of the cemetery in the literature on the subject.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The archaeological research on the site are being conducted by Łukasz Miechowicz from 2010 onwards, within the framework of the so-called Archaeological Mission in Chodlik, managed by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Research Association of Polish Archaeologists (Warsaw branch).

In 2010, a single tumulus in the cluster no. 2 was examined. It has been determined that its base was square in shape, with the earthen structure being partially levelled and flattened (which was possibly a part of the funerary practices of the time); in addition, three deep ditches positioned in the vicinity of the tumulus itself have also been found. Beneath the earthen structure, there was a layer of burnt material (traces of cleansing of the area by fire before the tumulus was built) as well as an outline of an unidentified rectangular structure. Traces of small pyres have been discovered within the walls of the burial mound itself. The burial mound contained cremated remains in the form of more than 3.5 thousand charred horse bones as well as very few fragments of human bones belonging to an adult male (adultus/maturus anthropological category). There were also pieces of clay vessels as well as bronze fragments of a harness (four rivets, two flat metal sheets and one boss). Initially, the bodies were placed on a funeral pyre at the top of the mound, built on a square plan. Some time later, the upper part of the mound was levelled, with the earth being allowed to slide down its sides; it was also at that point that the practice of lighting small pyres on the tumulus has emerged. According to a tentative estimate, the tumulus is believed to originate either from the 8th or the 9th century.

In 2012, during the examination of another burial mound, it has been discovered that the burial has taken place at the top of the mound, with about one thousand bone fragments having been found there. The artefacts found inside the mound included fragments of five clay vessels, two bronze and iron buckles and bronze strap fittings (most likely parts of a spur strap) the design of which was reminiscent of Great Moravian or Carolingian art. The initial analysis of bone fragments has shown that the mortal remains belonged to a young man who was cremated along with his horse. Among the bone fragments discovered there were also some cremated remains of other animal species. The barrow itself was most likely erected during the second half of the 10th century; it was designed on a square plan, just like the one previously examined. In the course of surveys carried out in the area between the individual mounds, it has been determined that before a barrow cemetery was established here, the area was a forest which was set on fire in order to make space for the burial ground. In addition, traces of a much older, bronze age settlement of the Trzciniec culture have also been discovered. Numerous fragments of clay vessels as well as flint slivers and a half of a flint axe have also been unearthed on the site. During one of the site surveys, fragments of clay vessels characteristic of the early phase of the Przeworsk culture and of the Trzciniec culture have been discovered.

In 2013 and 2014, a survey of six further mounds was conducted, with the mounds in question being located on a hill known as Bartosiowa Górka. The mounds in question have been substantially levelled over the years, making them virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the surrounding terrain when looking from surface level. Inside, rare types of cremated and pit burials have been found; there was also a ditch containing charred human and animal remains as well as fragments of early medieval clay vessels. Deposits of bones and pieces of early medieval clay vessels were also found directly beneath the ground in the cemetery itself. Inside the excavations made, objects and artefacts from the neolithic period and early bronze age have also been discovered; these artefacts are traces of both the Funnelbeaker culture and the Trzciniec culture, with some items originating from the late pre-Roman period. The early medieval artefacts discovered on the site include fragments of painted pottery, three appliqués which had most likely formed part of a horse tack, a decorative nail with traces of fire damage as well as a heavily corroded spur, the age of which was estimated at between the early 10th century and the mid-11th century.

Accessible historic site.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 10-09-2015.

Bibliography

  • Banasiewicz-Szykuła, E., Gołub I., Mączka G., Koman W., Zieniuk P., Sprawozdanie z działalności w zakresie ochrony zabytków archeologicznych w województwie lubelskim w 2010 roku [in:] “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie Województwa Lubelskiego”, Lublin 2011, pp. 14-15
  • Banasiewicz-Szykuła E., Gołub IKoman., W., Mączka G., Zieniuk P., Sprawozdanie z działalności w zakresie ochrony zabytków archeologicznych w województwie lubelskim w 2013 roku [in:] “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie Województwa Lubelskiego”, Lublin 2014, pp. 20-21
  • Miechowicz Ł., Wstępne sprawozdanie z archeologicznych badań wykopaliskowych na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku ciałopalnym w Chodliku, gm. Karczmiska, woj. lubelskie w 2013 roku, stanowisko no. AZP 25/117 78-75, Warsaw 2014, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin
  • Miechowicz Ł., Chodlik. Badania 2007-2013, Warsaw 2014, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin
  • Miechowicz Ł., Sprawozdanie z archeologicznych badań wykopaliskowych na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku kurhanowym w Chodliku, gm. Karczmiska, woj. lubelskie w 2010roku, Warsaw 2010, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin

General information

  • Type: Barrow
  • Chronology: VIII - XI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Chodlik
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district opolski, commune Karczmiska
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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