The Wołek castle, Kobiernice
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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The picturesque remains of the ducal castle in Kobiernice are an exceptional example of a medieval fortified structure, enjoying the status of a regional landmark. The permanent ruin of the castle - an authentic relic of a bygone age - is still clearly discernible among the unique surrounding landscape. The remnants of masonry and earthen structures, cultural layers as well as moveable artefacts preserved on the site remain a valuable source of knowledge about both the castle itself, the surrounding region and the defensive architecture of the late Middle Ages.

Location and description

The castle ruins are located more than 2 kilometres south of Kobiernice, less than 800 metres west of the Kobiernice - Międzybrodzie Bialskie road. The castle was erected in an inaccessible area by the Soła river valley (394 metres above sea level), on a steep-sided hill at the fork of two deep ravines. The only relatively convenient access road to the now-vanished castle led up the western slope. The main section of the castle was perched atop the hill and was separated from the rest of the complex by a moat. The castle was designed on a quadrangular floor plan, slightly rounded on the western side. The surface of the complex is estimated at 1250 square metres. The castle was constructed mostly using locally quarried stone, with minor additions of Gothic-era brick. The castle hill is surrounded by additional revetments in the form of a moat and an outer perimeter wall the fragment of which - accompanied by the remnants of a gatehouse - has been discovered on the western side of the hill. Today, the entire area is heavily forested.

History

The castle, erected in the 14th century (most likely in the mid- 14th century, although this remains uncertain), is believed to have been established at the initiative of one of the dukes of Oświęcim, who wanted to enhance the security of the southern border of the duchy through the addition of a fortified structure. The list of the potential founders of the castle is therefore quite long and includes duke Władysław (Ladislaus), who died in 1321 or 1324, Jan (John) I the Scholastic (died 1372), John II (died 1376) or John III (died 1405). The very first mentions of the castle in written sources appear in a document dating back to the year 1396. It is also known that in 1405, the castle was briefly taken over by the dukes of Cieszyn, specifically Przemysław I Noszak, who died five years later. Historians have also come across a note that in the first half of the 15th century, the castle was taken over by a group of rogue knights, who must have been a considerable nuisance, for we also know that their activities were discussed during the session of the sejm (local assembly) in Cracow in 1451. Later on, the castle was besieged on numerous occasions, including in 1453, when the structure was surrounded by the forces led by Jan Tęczyński. In 1454, the last of the Oświęcim dukes, John IV (died 1494-97) paid a homage to Casimir IV Jagiellon (born 1427, died 1492) after an unsuccessful struggle. Three years later, the defeated duke decided to sell the entire duchy to Casimir IV. As a result, the entire region was incorporated into the Polish Crown. According to the available documents, the sale encompassed a pair of castles: the Oświęcim castle and the Kobiernice castle, the latter known commonly as the Wołek castle. No information as to the date of abandonment of the castle has so far been identified, although it is commonly assumed that the castle became deserted towards the end of the 15th century. Bohdan Guerquin believes that this occurred in the years 1462-76, when Casimir IV Jagiellon launched his campaign against rogue knights, destroying their outposts one by one.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first excavations took place on the site back in 1880, making them one of the first archaeological surveys carried out in the Polish territory. In years 1977-1986, Jacek Reyniak embarked upon a systematic survey of the site. As a result, the remnants of the castle have been identified and documented, as have numerous moveable artefacts.

The site is accessible all year round.

compiled by Michał Bugaj, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 27-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Guerquin B., Zamki w Polsce, Warsaw 1984, pp. 282-283.
  • Kajzer L., Kołodziejski S., Salm J., Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Warsaw 2007.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: XIV-XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kobiernice
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district bielski, commune Porąbka
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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