The Stone Lock complex, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Stone Lock - a part of early modern bastion fortifications of the city of Gdańsk, which were the most extensive and most important structures of this type in northern Europe - constitutes a unique example of 17th century hydraulic engineering and - due to the fact that it was incorporated into the system of fortifications - a relic of historical military architecture. The structure performed an important role in the defence of the city of Gdańsk, protected the area against flooding and supported the functioning of the port; to a limited extent, it continues to perform its flood control functions until this day.

History

In the 16th century, the medieval fortifications built around the city of Gdańsk were already becoming obsolete; for this reason, the municipal authorities decided to erect a new set of fortifications. In 1547, the construction of the early modern fortifications (incorporating roundels and, subsequently, bastions) began. The new fortifications were built along the western side of the Old Town and Main Town and, from 1593, of the Old Suburb as well. A total of fourteen bastions were built in years 1622-1636, closing off the path towards the city from the north, east and south. The bastions were designed in the so-called old Dutch style, designed by a Dutch architect Cornelius van den Bosch. The bastions were interconnected by curtain walls and preceded by a double moat filled with water which followed a zigzag pattern. Due to the construction of the fortifications, a lock was built on the Motława river in years 1619-1623 (i.e. slightly earlier than the fortifications themselves), named the Stone Lock due to the fact that it was mostly made of stone. The structure was designed by Dutch engineers Wilhelm Jansen Benningen and Adrian Olbrantsen, while the construction process itself was conducted under the oversight of Jan Strakowski. The lock performed an immensely important function since it made it possible to ensure the proper level of water in the moats as well as the regulation of the water level in the Motława river in the Gdańsk harbour area as well as in the agricultural lands of the Żuławy region. On one hand, the lock prevented sea water from flowing back into the Żuławy region as it was pushed back by the northern winds, on the other hand it also enabled the area to be flooded in the event of a possible siege of Gdańsk, thus preventing the enemy from mounting an attack from this direction. A mill was also built alongside the lock, ensuring that the city would not become at risk in the event that the enemy decided to cut off the water supply to the Radunia canal, halting the operation of the mills using the water flowing through the canal as a source of power. A drawbridge was positioned above the lock, while the lock itself was designed to accommodate vessels of a substantial size (the distance between both gates was approximately 20 metres). During the 17th century, in order to enhance the protection of the lock, earthen fortifications known as lunettes were built at the entrance to the lock. In 1668, the first lunette was built on the right bank of the Motława river, while a second one was added on the other bank in 1672. In 1710, these fortifications, commonly known as Sow’s Head, were extended further, reaching their current size. During the mid-19th century, the lock was only used to protect the area against flooding; only two pairs of external gates remained by that time, the inner gates having been dismantled. The drawbridge was replaced with a permanent structure. In the second half of the 19th century, the structure was modernised, with the surfaces of the lock canal being covered with a layer of cement, while the wooden gaes were replaced with iron ones. The eastern gate of the lock was damaged during the Second World War. Even today, the lock remains a part of the flood control system of the city of Gdańsk.

Description

The Stone Lock complex comprises the lock, the stone lock walls, earthen fortifications positioned ahead of the lock (lunettes) as well as the mill near the lock.

The entire complex is located on the Motława river, in the spot where the river flows across what used to be the boundaries of the 17th-century city of Gdańsk, in the Lower Town district. The structure is positioned in the southern line of the early modern bastion fortifications, within the curtain wall between the Żubr (Buffalo) and Wilk (Wolf) bastions. The lock borders on the city from the north.

The structure is positioned on wooden piles and frame; it was made of brick and clad with massive stone blocks.

The northern part of the complex includes the lock proper, the mill and the mill canal which runs in parallel to the lock itself. The mill is located on the western side of the lock and the canal; today, only the outer brick walls of the building remain, their structure incorporating the early modern brick arrangement. A bridge is positioned above the lock and the canal. Initially both locks featured two pairs of doors; today, only the outer pair of doors remains, positioned on the side of the lock which lies closer to the city. The lock canal was reinforced with cement in the second half of the 19th century.

The middle section of the complex includes two long lock walls - breakwaters. Two small cylindrical turrets known as “the maidens” are perched atop each breakwater; initially topped with conical roofs, they were redesigned in 1747, receiving Baroque cupolas crowned with spheres.

Towards the south, the lock walls are framed by two earthen lunettes known as the Sow’s Head, built in 1668, 1672 and 1710. The front sections of the lunettes face southwards. Today, the lunettes are overgrown with various forms of vegetation.

Accessible historic structure.

Compiled by Beata Dygulska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 06.08.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bukal G., Fortyfikacje Gdańska i ujścia Wisły 1454-1793, Sopot 2012, s. 386-388.
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 49-52.
  • Stankiewicz J., Biskup K., Fortyfikacje miejskie Gdańska od XVI do XIX w., Teka Gdańska, t. 3, cz. 1, Gdańsk 1998, s. 95-97.

General information

  • Type: industrial architecture
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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