Ring fort, Moraczewo
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
photo

The ring fort in Moraczewo is one of the oldest forts of the state ruled by the Piast dynasty, which began to form in the 9th/10th century in the Gniezno region.

Location and description

The ring fort is positioned halfway between Poznań and Gniezno, 0.6 kilometres north of the road which connects these two cities (national road no. 5), approximately 2 kilometres west of the southern edge of the Lednickie lake trough and about 3.5 kilometres to the south-west from the early medieval hillfort in Ostrów Lednicki. It is located on a hilly terrain the topography of which had been formed by glaciation, with visible sections of the terminal moraine in the form of hills that rise above the otherwise flat landscape. The valleys of the former tributaries of the nearby Główna river, which have since disappeared due to melioration processes, cut through the area around the hillfort. During the early Middle Ages, the area in question was covered by marshes and swamps, which made it valuable from a defence standpoint.

The oldest ring fort was erected on a natural hill formed by the terminal moraine, with a surface area of approximately 0.75 hectares. Following the subsequent extension and alteration works, the fort attained the dimensions of approximately 120 x 100 metres. The ramparts mark the two sections of the hillfort; the western ramparts rise taller than the eastern ones, which are positioned slightly lower, on the slope of the hill. The concavities formed at the junction of both sections of the ramparts are clearly apparent both in the northern and south-eastern parts of the fort. From the 19th century to the 1970s, the inner part of the stronghold and the western and south parts of the pre-rampart were slowly being destroyed by deep, levelling tillage, resulting in both the inner courtyard and the moat being partially filled up with soil. Today, the western, horseshoe-shaped rampart retains the height of 7-11 metres, its width being 27-30 and 4-7 metres at the base and the top respectively. The east rampart, extensively damaged by tillage, also features a horseshoe outline and rises to the height of 6-7 metres, its width being 20-30 and 9-11 metres at the base and the top respectively. The maximum depth of the moat is 1.5 metres. The height of the ramparts measured from the inside of the fort is approximately 3 metres above the inner courtyard of both segments of the ring fort. The maximum dimensions of the inside of the hillfort are approximately 70 x 40 metres. At present, the entire site of the fort remains disused, being overgrown by grasses and sparsely scattered trees which grow both on the ramparts and in the moat.

History

The natural hill upon which the fort would subsequently be erected had already been inhabited during the first centuries of our era - the period of Roman influence in this territory.

Towards the end of the 9th century or, more probably, in the early 10th century, the western part of the hill (the summit) was surrounded by a ring-shaped rampart circumscribed by a moat. During the 2nd quarter of the 10th century, following the demolition of the eastern part of the rampart, the fort was extended, spreading out approximately 50 metres towards the east. The new section of the stronghold, erected on the slope of the hill, was slightly lower than the original fort. It was also circumscribed by a separate, horseshoe-shaped rampart adjoining the ramparts of the older section. This new rampart was likewise protected by a moat. A devastating fire broke out in the second half of the 10th century, bringing the existence of the ring fort to an end.

It is believed that during both phases of its development, the ring fort served as the site of cult and ritual practices, as suggested by the existence of overlapping traces of two large buildings with the surface of 150-200 square metres, exhibiting certain analogies to the cult and banqueting halls of the ancient times and the early Middle Ages.

Condition and results of archaeological research

In connection with the establishment of the Piast Trail back in the 1970s, plans were drawn up for comprehensive research of the site, to be followed by conversion into an open-air museum. However, these plans have been only partially implemented, with research operations being performed to a limited extent. No open-air museum has ever been created. In years 1977-1981, archaeological research was conducted in an area of 425 square metres by the Archaeological Museum in Poznań, under the direction of Cz. Strzyżewski and M. Łastowiecki. As a result, a stratigraphic profile of the hillfort was created, making it possible to map the structures of the rampart, made of stone, timber and earth. Relics of overground wooden log structures as well as hearths and more than six thousand moveable artifacts were discovered; most of the latter were ceramic vessels, although there were also some metal objects such as an iron axe, knives, a curb, iron fittings, silver-lined spurs with buckles as well as clay spindle whorls, a bone awl as well as a fragment of cladding made of antler, the latter being exquisitely decorated, making it reminiscent of Scandinavian objects of this type.

Private property. The structure is visible from afar, unprotected by walls or fences, with no information signs present. It can be viewed with the consent of the owner who lives nearby.

compiled by Elżbieta Wyrwińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 03-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Strzyżewski Cz., Łastowiecki M., Kara M., Wczesnośredniowieczne grodzisko w Moraczewie pod Ostrowem Lednickim, „Wielkopolskie Sprawozdania Archeologiczne”, t. 6, 2003, s. 76-93.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: pocz. X w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Moraczewo
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district gnieźnieński, commune Łubowo
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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