Hillfort, Międzyświeć
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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The early medieval hillfort from the tribal period in Międzyświeć is a truly unique site which has no direct counterparts in the Cieszyn district and very few in the entire Silesian region - a truly exceptional and valuable survival from a forgotten age. The site is well preserved, with easily discernible revetments and fortifications and rich cultural layers containing numerous archaeological artefacts. The authentic remnants of the hillfort, believed to have been erected by the Golensizi tribe (known in Polish as Golęszycy) presents a considerable research value and is a priceless source of information on the early medieval hillfort architecture and the history of the entire region. It may also be added at this stage that traces of a settlement of the Lusatian culture has also been identified on the site, most likely originating from the period of the culture’s heyday, i.e. the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age.

Location and description

The site is located in the northern forefield of the Moravian Gate, about 1.7 kilometres south-east of Skoczów. The remnants of the hillfort are situated on the upper terrace of the broad Urstromtal (glacial valley) of the Vistula river, in the immediate vicinity of one of its tributaries - the Bładnica river. The structure was erected in a convenient location offering many natural defensive characteristics, with the shape of the underlying promontory determining the overall shape of the hillfort, designed on a roughly oval/triangular plan. The total surface of the hillfort is approximately 0.8 hectares, making it more than five times smaller than the Lubomia hillfort. The surviving fortifications in the form of a single rampart and moat are easily discernible among the surrounding terrain, although the entire site is now heavily forested. The moat is approximately 6 metres wide, its presence necessitated by the gentle slope on the south-eastern side of the hillfort, offering little protection in and out of itself.

History

Based on the notes made by an anonymous monk known commonly as the Bavarian Geographer, recorded somewhere around the year 845 at the court of Louis (Ludwig) the German (born 806, died 876), the hillfort in Międzyświeć has been associated with the Slavic tribe of Golensizi (known in Polish as Golęszycy). It should also be mentioned at this stage that, according to the Bavarian Geographer himself, the tribe was not a very resourceful or powerful one, having a mere five hillforts under its control.

The early medieval hillfort from the tribal period in Międzyświeć is believed to originate from the 9th century, even though it is now widely accepted that the structure superseded an even earlier, open settlement dating back to the 8th century. According to the theory advanced by Jerzy Szydłowski, the history of the structure is very similar to that of another hillfort of the Golensizi tribe located in Lubomia (Wodzisław Śląski district). In the view of this historian, the Great Moravian duke Svatopluk (born ca. 844 - died 894) has later destroyed both of these settlements, most likely in the years 874-885. Jerzy Szydłowski also believed that, following the destruction of the hillforts, the area remained largely uninhabited, although Krzysztof Jaworski has stated that the more recent analysis of the pottery fragments recovered in Międzyświeć shows clearly that many of these fragments exhibit features characteristic of 10th-century artefacts. This means that it is possible that, once the hostilities were over, the local population has returned and inhabited the same site for some time afterwards.

It also needs to be added that pottery fragments of the Lusatian culture (Bronze Age and early Iron Age) have also been unearthed on the site, which proves that the area was either inhabited or at least penetrated by representatives of this culture.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Excavations were carried out on the site in the years 1959, 1961, 1963 (Jerzy Szydłowski) and 1977 (Małgorzata Płazak). Numerous archaeological finds have been identified on the site, including traces of what is believed to be six residential buildings with a post-and-beam structure, as well as a number of utility pits and a three-chamber furnace. Numerous moveable artefacts have also been recovered, including pottery as well as objects fashioned from iron, stone and bone.

The site is accessible all year round.

compiled by Michał Bugaj, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 28-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Informator Archeologiczny., Informator Archeologiczny. Badania 1977, Warsaw 1978.
  • Jakimowicz R., Bąk S., Atlas grodzisk i zamczysk śląskich, Cracow 1939.
  • Jaworski K., Wczesne średniowiecze, [in:] E. Tomczak (ed.), Archeologia. Górny Śląsk. Katowice 2014.
  • Tomczak E., Mało znane warownie Górnego Śląska, Katowice 2012.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: IX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Międzyświeć
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district cieszyński, commune Skoczów - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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