Lake settlement of the Western Baltic Barrow culture, Mołtajny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Lake settlement of the Western Baltic Barrow culture



A unique example of settlement characteristic of Western Baltic Barrow culture population. The site in Mołtajny is a proof of exceptional hydro-technical venture consisting in construction of a settlement on an artificial island, with a breakwater wall and a bridge connecting the settlement with land, carried out by a small group of people.

Location and description

Mołtajny, site I, is an island located in the northern part of the lake Arklickie, near the village of Mołtajny. A small oval island, 36 m long, elevated only 1 metre above the current water level of the lake, overgrown with thick shrubbery and a couple of massive poplars , constitutes a distinct dominating point in the surrounding landscape. The island lays within a distance of ca. 55 m from the eastern bank of the lake. It does not currently resemble in any way an artificial settlement structure and does not differ in any manner from natural islands present in lake reservoirs.


The lake settlement in Mołtajny was populated many times in various periods between 400 and 100 B.C. The settlement known and mentioned in archaeological literature already from the 2nd half of the 19th century. It was discovered in 1875 by the owner of the local land estate, during planting on the island of the lake Arklickie.

Condition and results of archaeological research

First excavations on the settlement site were carried out by J. Heydeck in 1895, and then by W. Gaerte in 1923. After the war, in years 1986-1991, archaeological examinations were carried out on the island as well as underwater probing in its immediate vicinity on behalf of the Institute of Archeology and Etnography at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. The examinations enabled not only to get acquainted with the structure of the settlement platform built on the lake Arklickie, but also made it possible to reconstruct the course of the bridge connecting the island with land, as well as the waterbreak - palisade surrounding the settlement. During examinations carried out on the island and under water, numerous movable historic items were found, of which the most interesting one is a bronze treasure comprising 7 armbands and 3 pins. In addition, numerous vessel fragments and tools — both of metal and stone — were discovered, and animal bones.

The historic artefacts gathered during the excavations are currently stored in the Museum of Warmia & Mazury in Olsztyn. The site itself, due to its location, is inaccessible, but perfectly visible from the northern bank of the lake — where the village Mołtajny is located.

Compiled by Hanna Mackiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board in Olsztyn, 5 August 2014



  • J. Gackowski, Relikty zabudowy mieszkalno-obronnej osiedla nawodnego kultury kurhanów zachodniobałtyjskich w Mołtajnach, woj. Olsztyn (stan. I), [w:] Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici - Archeologia XXIV - Archeologia Podwodna 4, Toruń 1995, ss. 7 - 46.
  • G. Wilke, Sprawozdanie z badań wykopaliskowych na stanowisku i w Mołtajnach w woj. olsztyńskim w 1986 r. na osiedlu nawodnym kultury kurhanów zachodniobałtyjskich. [w:] Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici - Archeologia XV - Archeologia Podwodna 3, Toruń 1991, ss. 25 - 41.

General information

  • Type: settlement
  • Chronology: 400-100 BC
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Mołtajny
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district kętrzyński, commune Barciany
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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