Barrow cemetery, Lipsko-Polesie
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
photo

Barrow cemetery dating back to the early Middle Ages, one of those best examined by excavations in Poland. It is a unique component in the landscape of the Padół Zamojski area.

Location and description

The barrow cemetery is situated at the top of a 268 m.a.s.l. hill stretching from south-east to north-west, approx. 300 m in straight line from one of springs of the Topornica River and St. Roman’s Chapel, a local place of worship of the saint, nearby village buildings, in a plough field and fallow, and forming part of private plots of land.

Out of about 70 barrows identified in the burial ground in 1922, 24-25 mounds have survived to the present day in an area of 12,570 m2 under conservation protection and converted to non-agricultural use. The average height of the mounds is 20-50 cm, some of them marking their presence as a small bulge of the ground surface of 10-30 cm in height. These are graves containing cremation burials from the early Middle Ages.

History

The barrow cemetery was discovered in 1921 by Michał Drewko. In 1922, when the excavation work first started, the cemetery consisted of about 70 barrows situated in the Zamoyski Family Fee Tail forest. The mounds were in a very good state of conservation at the time. The earthen structures were of approx. 1 m in height, with some rising to about 2 m. The density of the structures was very high, most of the mounds almost abutting on each other. They were located in 2 groups: the southern group (at least 42 barrows) and the northern one (at least 12 barrows). In 1950, when a topographic plan was drawn up, the site consisted of about 60 earthen mounds of 30-100 cm in height, on a circular or sometimes oval plan. The largest barrow, oval in shape, stood 2 m and measured 12 x 22 m at the base. In the late 1960s/early 1970s, the earthen structures of 32 mounds were levelled and ploughed, as the fee tail land was parcelled out, trees were cleared, and the burial ground was turned into cropland. In 1968, the preserved part of the burial ground with an area of 29,475 m2, comprising 28 barrows in various state of preservation, was inscribed on the register of monuments. The mounds basically stood 20-50 cm high, with diameters at base ranging between 3 and 9 m. Currently some 24-25 barrows are discernible; they are converted to non-agricultural use and are held as fallow land.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Excavations at the site were conducted in 1922-23 and 1952-1956 by Michał Drewko for the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw. The topographic plan of the site was drawn up by Stanisław Miłoszewski in 1950. Surface surveys under the Archaeological Picture of Poland project were conducted at the site in 1997 by Jerzy Kuśnierz.

During six excavation seasons, at least 38 graves were examined. The surveys identified an urn cremation cemetery. According to the survey results, the barrows of the northern group were circular, of a rather uniform size (approx. 5-6 m on average), with a height of approx. 0.5 m (in 1922) and 0.1-0.2 m (in 1952), with a trace of a mound ditch around the barrows. The surface of the primary topsoil was found to be covered with about 20 cm of clean, non-humus earth, with a thin layer of burnt material on top of this bedding, and sometimes (in the 1922-1923 surveys), large chunks of charred pine wood on intensively burned reddish ground. Burned human bones (including teeth) and fragments of clay vessels were found in the mound (the latter were usually deposited around the perimeter of the barrows). The barrows of the northern group had a more distinct crematory layer, containing more numerous human bones. The pottery found in the mounds was more advanced than the vessels in the barrows of the northern group. Heavily coated specimens prevailed, grey and brown in colour, made of clay with a high content of leaning additive, ornamented with horizontal or wavy grooves.

The barrows of the southern group displayed greater diversity in terms of form and size (circular and about 20% oval, usually larger ones). The construction of the barrows of the southern group was similar to those of the northern group. However, they contained inside poorly visible traces of the crematory layer, as well as very few small fragments of pottery. The original humus layer was covered with a 10-20 cm layer of pure loess bedding, with traces of the crematory layer on top of it, in the centre of the mound, with a diameter usually ranging between 1.50 and 3.60 m. The soil under the burnt material layer did not show any traces of burning, whereas the thin underlay of clay deposited directly above the burned material was strongly burned. The crematory layer and the burned clay above it were usually 10-15 cm in thickness. Above and in the vicinity of the crematory layer, small pieces of burned bones were found. When erecting a mound, earth was usually taken from one side, i.e. the side on which barrow slopes were usually less steep. Some graves differed from the described typical interior construction: a barrow without a number (examined in the years 1922-23), No 25, No 27, 35, No 44, No 45, No 52, No 56, No 58, No 59, No 60, No 63, No 64, No 65, No 67. Owing to its construction and the artefacts recovered, barrow No 35 (as numbered by M. Drewko), examined in 1953, deserves attention - it was the largest and best-preserved mound in the burial ground, situated in the northern part of the main, circular cluster of graves. It was oval-shaped, with base dimensions of 24.5 x 12.50 m and 1.80 m in height. According to surveys, the mound base outline was originally smaller at 22.5 x 10 m. The earthen structure was surrounded by a mound ditch. In the central part of the barrow, at a depth of 40 cm, below the former land surface, there was a man-made pit with a length of 3.20 m, towards which the ground lowered gently over a length of 1.60 m. At the bottom of the pit, there was an aggregation of 60 small stones and a dozen or so loosely scattered ones. On and above the stones, there were lumps of burned clay and a few charcoals, whereas in the north-western part of the pit there was ashen-grey earth, probably remains of ashes. Small pieces of burned human and animal bones were very rare, as were pieces of pottery (sacrificial vessels?). Above the pit fill, a layer of pure clay was deposited, with a younger excavation made in it - a pit with a length of 6.20 and width of approx. 3 m. The pit bottom was filled with a layer of lumps of burned clay with dark-brown earth and a few charcoals of 5-12 cm in thickness. The main bulk of the historic material was situated in earth that has flown down from the top of the barrow (traces of urns placed at the top of the barrow) Apart from clay urns, other movable historic items recovered in the course of examination of the barrow included an iron spur, an arrowhead, a fragment of an iron knife, and a single red bead.

The site is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 02-04-2015.

Bibliography

  • Drewko M., Sprawozdanie z działalności Państwowego Urzędu Konserwatorskiego na Okręg Lubelski, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, 1921, vol. 6, p. 183.
  • Drewko M., Sprawozdanie z działalności Państwowego Konserwatora Zabytków Przedhistorycznych na Okręg Lubelski za rok 1922, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, 1923, vol. 8, pp. 100-101.
  • Antoniewicz W., Archeologia Polski. Zarys czasów przedhistorycznych i wczesnodziejowych ziem Polski, Warszawa 1928, p. 243.
  • Nosek S., Materiały do badań nad historią starożytną i wczesnośredniowieczną międzyrzecza Wisły i Bugu, Annales UMCS, vol. VI, sec. F, 1951 (print 1957), p. 348.
  • Drewko M., Prace wykopaliskowe na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku kurhanowym we wsi Lipsko, pow. Zamość, “Sprawozdania PMA”, vol. II, 1956, pp. 82-84.
  • Drewko M., Sprawozdanie z badań przeprowadzonych w 1955 r. na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku kurhanowym we wsi Lipsko, pow. zamojski, Sprawozdania Archeologiczne”, vol. III, 1957, pp. 165-168.
  • Drewko M., Wczesnośredniowieczne kurhany ciałopalne we wsi Lipsko, pow. Zamość, “Sprawozdania PMA”, vol. V, 1953, fasc. 3-4, pp. 36-41.
  • Drewko M., Wielki kurhan wczesnośredniowiecznego cmentarzyska we wsi Lipsko, pow. Zamość, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, 1954, vol. XX, pp. 307-309.
  • Prusicka-Kołcon E., Wczesnośredniowieczne cmentarzyska kurhanowe w Lipsku Polesiu i Mokem, “Zamojski Kwartalnik Kulturalny”, 2008, No. 3, pp. 14-18.

General information

  • Type: Barrow
  • Chronology: VI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Lipsko-Polesie
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district zamojski, commune Zamość
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

Licence:

report issue with this site

Geoportal Map

Google Map

See also in this area