Barrow cemetery, site no. 1, Mokre
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Barrow cemetery, site no. 1

Mokre

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An early medieval barrow cemetery, one of the best-preserved sites of its kind anywhere in Poland. The site is a unique feature of the landscape of the so-called Padół Zamojski (Zamość Dale).

Location and description

The barrow cemetery is located south-west of the cluster of houses which forms the Mokre village, alongside the road leading from Mokre to Hubale, near the woods, among the meadows known as the “Communal Fields” (formerly referred to simply as the “Mokre Pasture”). The burial ground stretches on the southern slope of the promontory, projecting into the expansive, waterlogged Topornica river valley.

The barrow cemetery occupies the area of approx. 4 hectares and contains 46 tumuli in total. The tumuli are arranged in three nearly parallel rows positioned along the east-west axis, forming a total of six clusters comprising various numbers of mounds. The diameter of these oval burial mounds is between about 6 and 12 metres on average today, their height varying between 0.3 and 1.2 metres. The burial mounds are believed to contain the cremated remains of people buried there in the early Middle Ages.

History

The barrow cemetery located in the area which today forms part of the village of Mokre originates from the early Middle Ages (7th/8th - 9th century).

The first mentions of the barrow cemetery in the literature on the subject were made by Michał Drewko in 1921. The older literature on the subject suggests that the site originally contained a much greater number of burial mounds. The rows of tumuli are said to have stretched further towards the west, alongside the edge of the forest in Mokre, with a number of them being located in the arable fields around the village of Hubale. Many of them have been obliterated during the interwar period as a result of tillage or during the construction of the road from Mokre to Hubale. In addition, during the 1930s a group of unknown pseudo-researchers has made a number of illegal excavations, thereby irreparably disrupting the original stratigraphy of the mounds. After World War II, the local residents have been extracting sand illegally from the site of the burial ground right until the 1980s, leading to the partial destruction of a few more mounds. Today, the site of the cemetery is safeguarded through its inclusion within the boundaries of the “Hubale” speckled ground squirrel protected habitat.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Archaeological excavations on the site were conducted by Leszek Gajewski and Andrzej Kutyłowski in years 1981-83 as well as by Wiesław Koman in 1986. The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by Włodzimierz Zieliński in 1986. Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by Andrzej Urbański in 1986.

The excavation research, spanning a few years and encompassing eight burial mounds in total, have proved that these mounds were originally both taller (between about 1.5 and 2 metres) and smaller in diameter (between about 5 and 9 metres); they have subsequently been partially levelled as the ages wore on, succumbing to denudation and soil subsidence caused by atmospheric and environmental conditions. The fact that the tumuli all consisted primarily of river sand has only served to accelerate this process. It has been determined in the course of archaeological research that the burial mounds contained the cremated remains of the deceased. Cremation is believed to have taken place outside the cemetery, with the charred bones being collected to clay vessels (urns) and either placed at the top of a tumulus or buried in the upper section thereof. In most cases, the burial mounds contained the remnants of a number of vessels (between 3 and 6), most of them being urns containing the remains of human bones; some of them were the so-called auxiliary vessels, i.e. vessels that would be broken during the ritual ceremony, or burial goods (food offerings for the deceased).

The following burial mounds have been examined by archaeologists:

Tumulus no. 1

Located on the north-eastern edge of the burial ground. The researchers have found that initially this earthen structure, shaped as a typical artificial mound, was surrounded by a distinct channel-like groove towards the west, north and east. The barrow contained three cremation urn graves, with one urn believed to have been interred inside the mound (although this is uncertain), while the remains of the other two were placed on the surface thereof.

Tumulus no. 2

Located on the north-eastern edge of the burial ground. The researchers believe that the mound was originally designed on a quadrangular plan, its dimensions being 8 x 8 metres, rising to the height of about 2 metres. It was surrounded by a channel or groove towards the west, north and east. The barrow contained between 2 and 4 cremation urn graves, with the charred remains being deposited on the surface of the mound.

Tumulus no. 3

Located on the north-eastern edge of the burial ground. According to the data obtained by archaeologists, the base of the earthen structure was originally designed on a roughly rectangular plan with slightly rounded corners, its diameter being about 6.5 metres and about 7 metres on the east-west and north-south axis respectively. The barrow contained five cremation urn graves.

Tumulus no. 4

Located in a group of burial mounds at the north-eastern edge of the cemetery, damaged due to sand extraction (only a part of the north-eastern quarter of the mound has survived). According to the research data obtained, the base of the mound was initially designed on a quadrangular plan with rounded corners; two purpose-built pits adjoined the mound to the north and the east. The preserved part of the burial mound contained the remains of one urn with pieces of cremated bones, although it appears certain that the tumulus originally contained a greater amount of human remains.

Tumulus no. 5

This burial mound, forming part of the group of three tumuli located at the northern edge of the cemetery, has suffered slight damage as a result of fairly recent digging. Before the survey began, the burial mound was a low, flattened, oval-shaped earthen structure, its diameter being 10 x 9.5 metres, while its maximum height was about 0.25 metres. According to the data obtained by archaeologists, the base of the earthen structure was originally designed on a roughly rectangular plan with slightly rounded corners, its diameter being about 7 and 8 metres on the east-west and north-south axis respectively. An oval or kidney-shaped pit with gently tapering sides was found right next to the mound, on the western side thereof. The burial mound is believed to have contained the remains of two urns filled with human ashes as well as one auxiliary vessel.

Tumulus no. 6

This burial mound, forming part of the group of three tumuli located at the northern edge of the cemetery, has suffered slight damage as a result of fairly recent digging. According to research data, the earthen structure of the mound was originally oval in shape, slightly elongated along the north-eastern axis, with its diameter being 7 x 6 metres. A small, kidney-shaped pit adjoining the mound itself was located on the western side thereof; another large, trench-like pit with a sickle-shaped outline surrounded the burial mound from the north-east. The burial mound is believed to have contained the remains of two urns filled with human ashes which had been placed on the surface of the mound as well as of two auxiliary vessels.

Tumulus no. 7

This burial mound forms part of the group of three tumuli located at the northern edge of the cemetery. According to the data obtained by archaeologists, the base of the earthen structure was originally designed on a quadrangular plan with rounded corners and slightly convex sides, its diameter being about 6 and 6.5 metres on the east-west and north-south axis respectively. A relatively large pit was found next to the northern slope of the burial mound, its depth being about 40 centimetres. The burial mound contained a number of cremation urn graves along with the fragments of auxiliary vessels; the exact number of burials cannot be determined due to the fact that the artefacts have been spread all across the mound.

Tumulus no. 8 (no. 35 according to the site numbering scheme)

Located in an isolated spot in the southern part of the burial ground. According to researchers, the earthen structure of the mound was originally shaped as a slightly deformed rectangle with convex sides and strongly rounded corners. The dimensions of the base of the earthen structure were 7.5 metres along the north-south axis and 6.5 metres along the east-west axis. Along a large section of its circumference, the burial mound was surrounded by a broad (2-3 metres), horseshoe-shaped pit with the depth of 60-70 centimetres. The burial mound contained a single cremation urn grave along with what is believed to have been the remains of two accompanying vessels.

Accessible historic site.

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. 100-10.
  • Drewko M., Sprawozdanie Państwowego Konserwatora Zabytków Przedhistorycznych Okręgu Lubelskiego za rok 1923, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, 1925, vol. 9, issue 3-4, p. 354.
  • Nosek S., Materiały do badań nad historią starożytną i wczesnośredniowieczną międzyrzecza Wisły i Bugu, “Annales UMCS, vol. VI, sec. F, 1951(1957), p. 380.
  • Gajewski L., Kutyłowski A., Mokre, gm. Zamość, woj. zamojskie, “Sprawozdania z badań terenowych Zakładu Archeologii UMCS i Archeologicznego Ośrodka Badawczo-Konserwatorskiego w Lublinie w 1981 r.”, 1981, pp. 13-14.
  • Gajewski L., Kutyłowski A., Mokre, gm. Zamość, woj. zamojskie, “Sprawozdania z badań terenowych Zakładu Archeologii UMCS i Archeologicznego Ośrodka Badawczo-Konserwatorskiego w Lublinie w 1982 r.”, 1982, pp. 14-15.
  • Gajewski L., Kutyłowski A., Mokre, gm. Zamość, woj. zamojskie, “Sprawozdania z badań terenowych Zakładu Archeologii UMCS i Archeologicznego Ośrodka Badawczo-Konserwatorskiego w Lublinie w 1983 r.”, 1983, pp. 22-23.
  • Koman W., Badania ratownicze na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku kurhanowym w Mokrem, stan. 1, gm. Zamość w latach 1981-1987, “Prace i Materiały Zamojskie”, vol. III, 1991, pp. 144-179.
  • Prusicka-Kołcon E., Wczesnośredniowieczne cmentarzyska kurhanowe w Lipsku Polesiu i Mokrem, “Zamojski Kwartalnik Kulturalny”, 2008, No. 3, pp. 14-18.

General information

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

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