Hillfort, Kórnik
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The hillfort in Kórnik (formerly Bnin) constituted the central part of a defensive complex which originally consisted of a conical motte-and-bailey fort and the surrounding settlement. Erected on a spot the natural features of which made it useful in terms of defence, it formed one of the local territorial administrative centres and, first and foremost, an important defence centre of the state ruled by the Piast dynasty. It also prevented access to the Poznań hillfort and protected the routes leading from Silesia towards Poznań. It is also mentioned as one of those places where the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III might have stopped over along the way to Gniezno.

Location and description

The site (known locally as “the Hills”) is located to the south-east of the centre of Kórnik, about 200 metres south of the cemetery by the Bnińskie lake, in the central section of a peninsula known as “the Neck”, surrounded by the waters of the lake.

The hillfort has an oval shape with dimensions of approx. 98 x 63 m. The inner courtyard measured 60 by 35 metres. The width of the ramparts on the northern and southern sides of the stronghold is 23 metres, with an approximately 25-metre wide concavity in the eastern section. The height of the surviving ramparts, measured from the ancillary settlement side (i.e. from the south) is about 2 metres, reaching about 4 metres on the northern side. Until 1959, the site of the former stronghold served agricultural purposes.


The hillfort in Kórnik-Bnin remained inhabited during the early Middle Ages (from about the mid- 10th century until the first half of the 13th century). In the light of dendrochronological analysis of the wooden rampart structures, it is believed to have been erected somewhere around the years 935-940/945. The fort was erected in the central part of the peninsula, on a site where relics of a Lusatian settlement have subsequently been discovered. At the beginning of the 10th century, an open settlement was established in the southern part of the peninsula; it was then converted into an ancillary settlement accompanying the stronghold. During the 1130w, the hillfort has fallen on evil days as a result of the crisis which the Piast monarchy was facing at the time and the coinciding invasion by the forces led by the Bohemian duke Brzetysław I. It was only towards the end of the 12th century or the early 13th century that the settlement and the fortress were rebuilt. Once the reconstruction process was completed, the stronghold took on the role of the seat of the local castellan, retaining its military character. During the 2nd quarter of the 13th century, a motte-and-bailey fort was erected in the northern part of the peninsula, its aim being to afford added protection to the main stronghold. Somewhere between the end of the first half of the 13th century and the beginning of the second half thereof, the defensive complex in Kórnik was finally abandoned.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The research into the remnants of settlements on the peninsula has begun during the late 18th century, if not earlier. In 1794, the hillforts were marked on the map for the very first time; there are also mentions of these structures in written documents dating back to the 13th century. The first mentions of the structures in literature date back to the mid- 19th century, where they were mentioned under the former name of the village - Bnin. The first excavations on the site of the hillfort were performed by J. Kostrzewski in 1930. Comprehensive exploratory studies of the defensive complex were conducted in the years 1961-69 by the Greater Poland Archaeological Institute and the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań. The research operations were led by professor Jan Żak. Two unconnected excavations were made on the site of the hillfort, cutting across the rampart and a part of the inner yard. As a result of the research performed, it was discovered that the fort was initially designed as a structure consisting of two distinct sections. In the end, it was built as a structure fortified with a massive, earthen and wooden horseshoe-shaped rampart rising to the height of approximately 7-10 metres, based on a wooden lattice reinforced by hook-shaped bindings at the base. In the early 13th century, the rampart was reinforced from the outside with a massive structure known as the berm. The berm consists of wooden boxes filled with stones and covered with piled-up wooden lattice structures tightened with sand. Remnants of half-earth lodges and overground structures have been discovered in the inner yard. Apart from traces of dwellings, other finds included large quantities of pottery, wooden items (such as an oar), metal objects (including knives, arrow heads, hasps, keys, scissors and sickles) as well as items made of bone or antlers (such as ice skates, arrow heads, awls, combs and buttons). The remnants of the wooden lattice of the hillfort rampart as well as fragments of the wood-paved road near the settlement and the motte-and-bailey fort are exceptionally well preserved.

Property of the Catholic Church Community. The structure forms part of the surrounding landscape and can be accessed from the outside.

compiled by Barbara Iwanicka - Pinkosz, National Heritage Board of Poland Regional Branch in Trzebnica, 08-09-2014.


  • Hensel W., Studia i materiały do osadnictwa Wielkopolski wczesnohistorycznej, vol. I, 1950, pp. 61-64.
  • Kara M., Przybył M., Wczesnośredniowieczne grodzisko wklęsłe w Bninie koło Poznania w świetle dotychczasowych ustaleń dendrochronologicznych, „Folia Praehistorica Posnaniensia”, vol. X/XI, 2002/2003, pp. 255-266.
  • Hilczerówna Z., Dorzecze Górnej i Środkowej Obry od VI do początków XI wieku, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1967.
  • Pałubicka A., Grodzisko wklęsłe w Bninie, pow. śremski, [in:] Materiały do studiów nad osadnictwem bnińskim. Grodzisko wklęsłe, (edited by J. Żak), Poznań 1975, pp. 11-184.
  • Szamałek K., Dudziak-Jankowiakowa J., Karolczak Z., Osadnictwo podgrodzia bnińskiego [in:] Materiały do studiów nad osadnictwem bnińskim. Podgrodzie (edited by J. Żak), Warszawa - Poznań 1979, pp. 5-263.
  • Żak J., Fogel J. (eds.), Materiały do studiów nad osadnictwem bnińskim. Mikroregionbniński, Poznań 1985.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: poł. X – pocz. II poł. XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kórnik
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district poznański, commune Kórnik - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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