The Niedźwiedzia Cave (Bear Cave), Olsztyn
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The Niedźwiedzia Cave (Bear Cave)

Olsztyn

photo

The Bear Cave, also known as Towarna Cave, is a priceless, multicultural archaeological site situated in a picturesque location among the so-called Towarne Duże hills, which are in fact a relatively small cluster of rock outcroppings. The cavern is one of the few places all across the Upland where traces of Palaeolithic man have been discovered, making it one of the oldest archaeological sites in all of the Silesian province. It needs to be added that remains of various animals from the Stone Age have also been unearthed inside the cave, including the hyena, the cave bear and the prehistoric horse.

Location and description

The Bear Cave, also known as Towarna Cave, is situated in the Towarne (Towarnie) Duże hills - a cluster of monadnocks towering above the surrounding terrain, rising to the level of 330 metres above sea level and located approximately 2 kilometres north of the Olsztyn village centre in the Częstochowa district. The entrance into the cavern is located on the north-western side of the hill. The cavern itself is connected with the Dzwonnica (“Belfry”) Cave, forming an intriguing subterranean complex with a total length of 183 metres. The difference between the two is that whereas the Bear Cave has an accessible cave mouth and is relatively easy to penetrate, the Belfry Cave poses a great challenge even to those who are prepared to crawl through tight spaces, making it virtually inaccessible for anyone other than the professional speleologist. It should also be added that the top of the hill offers a magnificent view of the surrounding area, including the nearby Olsztyn castle, dating back to the times of King Casimir the Great, i.e. the 14th century.

History

In 1970 and 1971, Jerzy Kopacz and Andrzej W. Skalski conducted archaeological surveys of the cavern. They have analyses the stratigraphy of the extant layers and have discovered artefacts related to various periods, including the late middle Palaeolithic (the Neanderthals), the upper Palaeolithic (the modern man), the Neolithic (Corded Ware culture), the early Bronze Age, the early Iron Age (Lusatian culture) and the late Middle Ages. It is the oldest surviving artefacts, dating back to the Stone Age (the late middle Palaeolithic - 110-70 thousand years ago) and the upper Palaeolithic (ca. 45-12 thousand years ago) which are of the greatest significance to researchers today. The former may be associated with the Neanderthal man, whereas the latter form the traces of one of the first representatives of the Homo sapiens sapiens species ever to appear in the territories of what is now known as Poland.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The site is accessible all year round. Explorers are advised to bring their own lighting such as electric torches or headlamps.

compiled by Michał Bugaj, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 04-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kopacz J., Skalski A.W., Excavations of the cave system in the Towarne mountains near Częstochowa, Archaeologia Polona 1976, vol. 17, pp. 163-175.
  • Kopacz J., Badania wykopaliskowe w jaskiniach okolic Częstochowy, [in:] Informator Wojewódzkiego Konserwatora Zabytków Archeologicznych na województwo katowickie za lata 1966-1970, Katowice 1971.
  • Wiśniewski A., Połtowicz-Bobak M., Paleolit, [in:] Tomczak E. (ed.) Archeologia. Górny Śląsk, Katowice 2014, pp. 7-31.

General information

  • Type: Cave
  • Chronology: ok. 110-70 tys. lat temu
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Olsztyn
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district częstochowski, commune Olsztyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

Licence:

report issue with this site

Geoportal Map

Google Map

See also in this area