Hillfort, Gilów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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The hillfort remains an interesting example of a large, albeit short-lived fortified complex erected by a group of people who arrived in the territories controlled by the Silesian tribes from Great Moravia, their purpose for doing so remaining unknown.

Location and description

The hillfort is located in an area known as Wzgórza Niemczańskie (Niemcza Hills), east of Gilów, near the road leading from Gilów to Niemcza, on a partially rocky hill rising to the height of 281 metres above sea level, surrounded from three sides by the Piekielny Potok (Hell’s Stream) valley.

The area of the site is approximately 4.5 hectares. The complex consisted of the hillfort proper and the ancillary settlement. The hillfort itself (105 x 170 metres), designed on a semi-oval plan, is located in the immediate vicinity of the ancillary settlement designed on a roughly crescent-shaped plan, with both parts of the site being separated by a tall rampart. The ramparts have been preserved in a relatively good condition, their height being up to 8 metres, with up to 12 metres in width at the base. A dry moat about 2 metres wide is located at the foot of the outer rampart. The ramparts are variegated in terms of structure. 5 different types of inner structure have been identified so far. The decisions as to the use of specific technical solutions were most likely linked to the shape of the surrounding terrain. Apart from the ramparts, remains of three gates have been preserved. These are the main gate leading from the outside to the ancillary settlement, the gate connecting the ancillary settlement and the hillfort as well a narrow gate leading from the hillfort to the steep hillside beyond. A natural elevation rising about 4 metres above the level of the main gate can still be seen in the area of the ancillary settlement; this mound is believed to have formed a part of the system of fortifications seldom seen in the early Middle Ages.

History

The archaeological research which spanned many years has made it possible to determine that the hillfort originates from the late 9th - early 10th century. In addition, a brief episode during which the hillfort remained in use during the 11th century was also identified.

According to J. Jaworski, the hillfort in Gilów was founded by a group of people who arrived from the south, from the territories of Great Moravia, headed by a party of armed men. The hillfort had no links to the erstwhile Silesian tribes which lived in the region. It was most likely erected during the final decade of the 9th century and remained in use for a mere 20 years.

In the 11th century (probably in 1017), the site saw a brief period of use, believed to have been linked to the presence of the armies of emperor Henry II which were stationed in the hillfort during the siege of Niemcza.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first surface surveys of the site were carried back in the 19th century, with subsequent activities being performed in 1956 and 1957. Later on, a survey within the framework of the “Archaeological Picture of Poland” research programme was carried out in 1988. Excavation works have been carried out on the site by various researchers (including J. Kaźmierczyk, J. Lodowski, K. Jaworski) from 1958 onwards.

Research proves that the hillfort complex remained in use for a short period in the late 9th/early 10th century, with an additional episode during the 11th century. Apart from elements of defensive, utility and residential structures and the overall layout of the complex, numerous moveable artefacts have been unearthed on the site: ceramic fragments (some of them bearing pottery marks), animal bones (mostly bovine), metal artefacts (tools, fragments of weapons), stone items (grinding stones, stone spindle whorls). The most intriguing finds made on the site are bronze or brass spherical knobs (pendants?), woodcarving knives, a wine knife, iron strap ends, razors (including one complete item of the same origin), a collection of Late Carolingian prongs (parts of spur fittings), a unique, double-volute knife and a bronze strap end piece designed in the Late Avar style. In addition, two large deposits (treasure troves) of metal objects have also been unearthed in Gilów. The deposit designated as Gilów I contained a number of arrowhead-like objects, among other things, while the Gilów II deposit contained a number of different items, including a Silesian bowl. K. Wachowski believes that the arrowhead-like objects as well as the Silesian bowls served as a local type of non-monetary currency, due to the fact that the Moravian economy did not use coins at all.

The historic monument is accessible to visitors. The archaeological site is marked with appropriate information plaques and forms part of a local educational route known as “The Tatar Valley”.

compiled by Donata Trenkler, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 13-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Archeological Picture of Poland, area 88-26, sheets 1/32; Jaworski K., Grody w Sudetach (VIII-X w.), Wrocław 2005

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: IX-X w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Gilów
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district dzierżoniowski, commune Niemcza - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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