The motte, Podkotlice
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The motte is all that remains today of a late-mediaeval motte-and-bailey castle that had once stood on this site. It is one of the few surviving structures of this kind in the Lublin region and remains a valuable source of information about the medieval motte-and-bailey castles that had once been a common sight in this area.

Location and description

The motte, locally referred to as “Zamczysko” (The Burgstall) or “Jabłońszczyzna”, was referred to in older literature as a conical hillfort in Zawalów; it is located about 1.5 kilometre south of the village buildings and the Zamość - Hrubieszów road. The motte is located among waterlogged meadows of the northern slope of the broad valley that was formed around the Siniocha river.

The fortified complex, occupying an area of about 1 hectare, consists of several distinct parts: a circular earthen mound about 55 metres in diameter at its base, standing at approximately 4 metres tall, the surrounding moat with the width of about 12 metres from the northern side (the remaining sections of the moat are both narrower and shallower) as well as the earthen rampart protecting the mound from the east, north and west, its total height being about 1.5 metres. From the north, the mound is adjoined by an earthen structure designed on a triangular plan, its summit being connected to an expansive elevated area which is currently used as an arable field. The site is relatively well preserved, with no traces of damage with the exception of small, old pits which had been most likely made by treasure hunters. Until recently, the site of the former castle was used for cattle grazing; today, it remains disused and is overgrown with grass.


The motte-and-bailey castle was erected somewhere around the mid-14th century, replacing an early medieval settlement which had existed there. It was subsequently abandoned somewhere around the mid-17th century, most likely after it had been set on fire by the Cossack armies led by Bohdan Chmielnicki in 1648. The founder of the castle was an unknown member of the Mazovian nobility, who is believed to have benefited from the land allocation scheme which had been in place at the time, receiving a part of the newly acquired Ruthenian territories and subsequently making it his new home. Some believe that the motte-and-bailey castle was built by Jan Kwaczała of the Prawda coat of arms, originating from Nieborów. If so, however, the estimate as to the date of construction of the castle would need to be moved forward to the period after 1422.

The village of Zawalów was initially held by knights; later on, it became the property of the nobility. The first mentions of the location in written sources date back to the year 1394. Podkotlice is the former hamlet of the Kotlice village which only became a separate administrative unit after World War II, as for the motte-and-bailey castle, however, there are no mentions of it in written sources whatsoever. In a document dating back to 1612, pertaining to the division of the estate of Piotr Śleszyński, the erstwhile owner of Zawalów, it is stated that one of his sons was to receive the “mound” specified in his father’s last will - a possible reference to the burgstall in Zawalów. The first mentions of the site in the literature on the subject were made by S. Nosek in 1951.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Archaeological excavations were performed on the site in years 1985-86 by A. Urbański from the Zamość District Museum. During the first season of the exploration, a total of 6 excavations were made, their total surface being 69 square metres. The excavations were made at the summit of the mound, in the moat between the mound and the earthen structure next to it, on the earthen structure itself, on the western slope of the rampart, on the extension of excavation no. 4 towards the moat as well as on the western slope of the aforementioned earthen structure (excavation no. 6). During the second season of the research programme, an excavation was made with the total length of 41 metres, covering the area of the rampart, the moat as well as a single section of the slope of the motte.

The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by Włodzimierz Zieliński in 1985. Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by Andrzej Urbański in 1985.

In 2008, Jakub Ordutowski conducted magnetic measurements of the site.

In the course of the survey, it has been determined that during the construction of the motte-and-bailey castle, a natural hill was artificially extended upwards, with the soil being extracted from the moat. It is in this layer of soil that the few pieces of early medieval pottery that have been found on the site originate, confirming that an even older settlement had once existed on the site of the burgstall. Individual layers of the inner courtyard, slopes of the mound, the rampart and the moat have been identified. Traces of burnt material (large quantities of charcoal and ash) have been discovered in the central part of the mound as well as in the layers of soil which have gradually subsided down its slopes. These are considered to be the remains of a wooden residential structure (most likely a keep) which has been lost to the blaze at some point. In the course of the excavation programme, the initial level of the moat has been determined at 1.7 metres below its current surface. It has also been determined that the banks of the moat had been reinforced by wooden structures in the form of square timbers positioned horizontally on the top of one another and reinforced with vertical piles which prevented the structure from toppling into the moat. In addition, layers of soil within the earthen rampart have also been explored, showing that the rampart was made of loamy soil, its sides covered with clay and reinforced by a structure made of interwoven tree branches (fascines) in order to protect it against being washed out by the water. The initial height of the rampart was about 3 metres. At the top of the rampart, traces of vertical piles driven into the ground (most likely parts of a palisade) have been found. In the course of the survey, numerous moveable artefacts have been unearthed, mostly on the bottom of the moat. These were mostly fragments of clay vessels as well as of stove tiles and glassware; metal objects (mostly iron nails) have also been found on the site. Another notable finding is a tin place found at the bottom of the moat, adorned with foliate motifs surrounding the “Lis” (Fox) coat of arms and the letters “F.C.”; it is believed that this plate may have belonged to Franciszek Czarnocki, the deputy pantler (podstoli) of Bełz in years 1656-1668 and the erstwhile owner of Zawalów. The magnetic survey performed on the site has made it possible to determine the exact location of the wooden keep in the eastern part of the complex and to produce a tentative estimate of its dimensions; before that, the presence of the keep was only hinted at during the excavations that had been conducted on the site at an earlier stage.

The site of the motte is open to the public.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 10-09-2014.


  • Banasiewicz E., Grodziska i zamczyska Zamojszczyzny, Zamość 1990, pp. 112-117.
  • Gurba J., Grodziska Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 1976, p. 32
  • Marciniak-Kajzer A., Średniowieczny dwór rycerski w Polsce. Wizerunek archeologiczny, Łódź 2011, p. 457.
  • Nosek S., Materiały do badań nad historią starożytną i wczesnośredniowieczną międzyrzecza Wisły i Bugu, “Annales UMCS” 1951, vol. VI, sec. F, 1957 (1951), p. 352
  • Ordutowski J., Relikty późnośredniowiecznej rezydencji obronnej w Zawalowie Kolonii w świetle badań geofizycznych, “Analecta Archaelogica Ressoviensia”, 2010 (2011), Vol.5, s. 472-479.
  • Urbański A., Zawalów, gm. Miączyn, woj. zamojskie. Stanowisko 1, "Informator Archeologiczny. Badania rok 1985”, 1986, p. 18
  • Urbański A., Grodzisko stożkowate w Zawalowie stan.1, gm. Miączyn - XIV - XVII w., "Sprawozdania z badań terenowych w województwie zamojskim w 1986 roku", 1986, p. 36
  • Urbański A., Zawalów, gm. Miączyn, woj. zamojskie. Stanowisko nr 1, ”Informator Archeologiczny. Badania rok 1986”, 1987, pp. 208-209.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: późne średniowiecze (XIV - XV w.)
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Podkotlice
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district zamojski, commune Miączyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


report issue with this site

Geoportal Map

Google Map

See also in this area