The hillfort and ancillary settlement, site no. 1 (hillfort) and 2 (ancillary settlement), Czermno
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The hillfort and ancillary settlement, site no. 1 (hillfort) and 2 (ancillary settlement)

Czermno

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The hillfort is what remains today of the historic fortified settlement of Czerwień (Cherven), one of the so-called Cherven Towns. It is estimated that the settlement complex in Czermno occupied an area of approx. 40 hectares. It consisted of the main hillfort, an ancillary settlement immediately adjacent to the fort as well as open ancillary settlements and burial grounds located slightly further away.

Location and description

The hillfort is located to the south-east of the cluster of houses which form the Czermno village, in the surrounding meadows situated at the fork of the Huczwa and Sieniocha rivers. The site is locally known as “Zamczysko” (The Burgstall). A fortified ancillary settlement, known locally as “Wały” (The Ramparts) or “Mały Zamek” (The Little Castle) is located in the immediate vicinity of the former hillfort; a further ancillary settlement, located slightly further away, is locally referred to as “Podzamcze” (Castle Grounds), while the area of the former open settlements carries the name “Mieścisko”, which suggests that it had once been the site of a now-vanished town.

The surviving remains of the historical Cherven complex is the hillfort and the ancillary settlements covering an area of about 3.5 hectares in total, or about 40 hectares if we also include the open settlements and burial grounds. The site is located in a waterlogged Huczwa and Sieniocha river valley; once a swampy, inaccessible territory, the valley has since been partially drained following the construction of a melioration system. The hillfort itself is of the lowland type, its earthen structures erected on a level terrain. The hillfort is a ring-shaped structure, its dimensions being 155 x 119 metres; the ramparts, rising to the height of up to about 6 metres above the bottom of the valley, have been preserved in a relatively good condition. Around the hillfort itself, there are also traces of ancillary settlements, open settlements, burial grounds located either in these settlements or at the outskirts, as well as a longitudinal rampart stretching for about 1.5 kilometres, forming the southern boundary of the entire complex. The remnants of causeways as well as traces of wooden bridges preserved in the underlying soil all prove that the settlement complex and the hillfort were linked by a transit network which was quite sophisticated for its time. Today, the site of the former hillfort remains disused and is overgrown with grass, while the area formerly occupied by the ancillary settlement and the open settlements beyond now serves as arable fields and meadows.

History

The settlement complex formerly known as Cherven, located in what is now the village of Czermno, was the centre of the so-called Cherven Towns during the early Middle Ages (between the 10th and the 13th century), serving as the residence of both secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries as well as an important international trade centre; last but not least, the crucial function of Cherven at the time was that it facilitated contacts between Poland and Ruthenia. The fall of the hillfort was probably the result of the Tatar Invasion of Poland (1241).

The actual identity of the Czermno hillfort and the medieval hillfort of Cherven has been confirmed back during the early 19th century. The very first reference to Cherven in written sources dates back to the times of Nestor the Chronicler, who mentions it in his “Tale of Past Years” as having been captured in 981 by Vladimir, the prince of Kiev, along with other Cherven Towns. The very same chronicler also noted that, in 1018, the Cherven Towns have been taken by the Polish king Bolesław Chrobry; later on, in 1031, Cherven itself was captured by Yaroslav the Wise, the prince of Kiev. The hillfort is frequently mentioned in subsequent Ruthenian chronicles, including, in particular, the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle, in years 1121, 1157, 1163, 1173, 1205, 1221, 1225, 1265, 1288 and, for the very last time, in 1289.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Archaeological investigations of the site were carried out in 1940 by L. Czykałenko and in 1952 by K. Jażdżewski and A. Nadolski within the framework of the research project on ‘Research on the Origins of the Polish State’ and as part of the operations of the ‘Archaeological Station of the Cherven Towns of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków’. The exploration of the site was continued in 1976 by L. Gajewski and J. Gurba, in years 1977-1979 - by J. Gurba, L. Gajewski and A. Kutyłowski as well as by A. Urbański in 1985. In 1997, I. Kutyłowska carried out research in the so-called “Castle Grounds”, i.e. on the site of the second ancillary settlement. From 2010 onwards, the site of the ancillary settlements has been explored under the direction of M. Piotrowski; he was later succeeded by T. Dziekoński, who remains responsible for the ongoing research programme.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out in 1984 by Sławomir Jastrzębski.

Based on the research performed, it has been determined that the hillfort and its immediate surroundings (the ancillary settlement) were circumscribed by a wooden and earthen box rampart. In addition to utility and residential wooden buildings, masonry structures (tserkvas) have been discovered in the former inner yard of the hillfort as well as on the site of the ancillary settlement. A cemetery was located inside the hillfort itself, alongside the tserkva, with women being buried in the middle of the burial ground, children - at the base of the eastern rampart, while all male burials took place in a separate cluster of graves. A cemetery arranged in a similar manner has also been discovered in the second ancillary settlement (the so-called “Castle Grounds”). The analysis of the archaeological findings made on the site of the former ancillary settlements proves that they included both residential buildings and craftsmen’s workshops. Between the ancillary settlement and the open settlements on the other side of the Huczwa and Sieniocha rivers, traces of oakwood and pinewood piles driven deep into the swamp below have been identified; these served as the foundation for wooden bridges about 3-4 metres wide, with the longest of them being about 750 metres in length. During the surveys that spanned a number of years, numerous valuable moveable artefacts have been unearthed, most of them being fragments of clay vessels. The valuable findings collected on the site include a miniature stone icon in the form of a visage of Christ in bas-relief, glass bracelets, Kiev Easter eggs, spindle whorls made of pink Ovruch slate as well as metal reliquaries (engolpions). The findings made during the most recent series of exploratory activities intended to verify the presence of metal artefacts in tilled soil and to save those artefacts from the so-called treasure hunters are particularly lavish and valuable. The most intriguing among the more than 2 thousand metal artefacts found (including objects made of bronze, silver, iron and gold) are the reliquaries (engolpions), small crucifixes covered with enamel, a few hundred lead stamps of the Drohiczyn type, lead discs with a hole in the centre (weights?), various coins, an impressive collection of jewellery including rings, temple rings as well as the so-called kolt - an exceedingly rare piece of jewellery often worn by Ruthenian aristocrats. In addition, various weapons or parts thereof (axes, sword hilts, arrowheads, spurs, horseshoes and pieces of harnesses) have been found, as have various tools such as ard ploughs, half-scythes, knives and scissors. The most important and valuable of all the findings made are two stashes of silver jewellery discovered in the inner yard of the hillfort, containing, among others, bracelets, ear cuffs, kolts and rings.

The ring fort is open to visitors. The fort is located along the “Historical Trail” and the Tyszowce-Czermno kayak trail.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 20-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Abramowicz A., Ceramika z Czermna nad Huczwą, “Archeologia Polski”, vol. 4, 1959, pp. 149-185.
  • Banasiewicz E., Grodziska i zamczyska Zamojszczyzny, Zamość 1990, pp. 53-59.
  • Gurba J., Kompleks osadniczy Czerwień-Czermno w świetle najnowszych badań archeologicznych, “Biuletyn Lubelskiego Towarzystwa Naukowego”, vol 25, 1983, pp. 43-47.
  • Gurba J., Problematyka „Grodów Czerwieńskich”, “Rocznik Tomaszowski”, vol. 1, 1983, pp. 11-14.
  • Gurba J., Wczesnośredniowieczny Czerwień i Grody Czerwieńskie na pograniczu polsko-ruskim. [in:] geograficzne problemy pogranicza Europy Zachodniej i Wschodniej, H. Maruszczak, Z. Michalczyk (eds.). Lublin 2004, pp. 54-55.
  • Gurba J., Kutyłowski A., Czermno - przykład wczesnośredniowiecznego kompleksu osadniczego [in:] Przewodnik XII ogólnopolskiego Zjazdu Polskiego Towarzystwa Geograficznego, part. II, Lublin 1974, pp. 51-54.
  • Jażdżewski K., Ogólne wiadomości o Czermnie-Czerwieniu, “Archeologia Polski”, vol. 4, 1959, pp. 67-92
  • Koj L., Koj J., Wyniki badań wału grodziska wczesnośredniowiecznego w Czermnie-Czerwieniu, “Archeologiczne Listy”, 1983, no. 6.
  • Kuśnierz J., Historia i stan badań latopisowych grodów Czerwień i Wołyń oraz ich okolic, [in:] “Zamojsko-Wołyńskie Zeszyty Muzealne”, vol. I, 2003, pp. 9-26.
  • Kutyłowska I., Osada rzemieślnicza w Czermnie Kolonii, stan. 3, woj. zamojskie, “Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej”, vol. III, 1998, pp. 167-170.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: X - poł. XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Czermno
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district tomaszowski, commune Tyszowce - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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