Gromnik, Romanów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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An interesting examples of early- and late medieval defensive architecture.

Location and description

The burgstall with a surface area of approximately 3 hectares is located on the summit of the Gromnik hill (393 metres above sea level), located in the area known as Wzgórza Strzelińskie (Strzelin Hills), north-east of Romanów.

Initially it was thought that the Gromnik hillfort (burgstall) only covered the very top of the hill - an area with a surface area of 1.5 hectares, circumscribed by earthen ramparts. However, the archaeological studies performed after the year 2000 proved that the fortified complex covered a much greater area.

History

In the course of excavation research and an analysis of the available archival materials, it has been determined that the Gromnik hillfort remained inhabited from the 9th century to the mid-10th century, while the castle that replaced it remained in use between the 1430s and the 1470s.

The hillfort was founded by the members of the Silesian tribe and was one of the most im-portant fortified structures in the Sudety mountains and the Przedgórze Sudeckie (Sudety Foothills) area.

The earliest mention of Gromnik dates back to a document issued in Strzelin on 9.05.1427 by Ludwig II, the duke Louis II of Brieg (Brzeg). However, it remains uncertain whether the name Gromnik (Rabensberg) contained in this document referred to a geographic location or to an actual fortified structure which remained in use throughout the 14th century and which was subsequently destroyed in the course of Hussite incursions in 1428.

In 1439, Elisabeth Hohenzollern, the duchess of Brzeg and Legnica, allowed the brothers Opitz and Hayn von Czirnaw, hailing from the town of Czernica (whose family name would ultimately be changed to “von Czirn”) to erect a new, open castle on the Gromnik hill for her and her successors. Some time before that (in 1437), the duchess appointed Opitz von Czirn as the alderman (starosta) of Brzeg and Strzelin, with members of the von Czirn family enjoying the title of alderman on a few more occasions in subsequent years. In the summer of 1443, the Gromnik castle was partially destroyed during an onslaught allegedly intended to rid the land of robber knights (Raubritter); in fact, however, the knights who controlled the castle at that point were considered undesirable due to their political links with Bohemia. The overall politi-cal and military conditions, however, have remained unchanged. As a result, the members of the von Czirn family were able to regain their position in the duchy once more. The recon-struction of the ruined Gromnik castle thus proved to be a simple necessity, and once the dukes of Oława, John I and Henry X, granted their consent, works could finally begin in ear-nest. In fact, the reconstruction process proceeded so swiftly that in 1447 both dukes have travelled to the Gromnik castle and even issued a certain document during their visit. From 1448 onwards, the von Czirn family adopted a title of the “lords of the Gromnik castle”. As time went by, however, the political influences of the members of the von Czirn family (the successors of Opitz and Hayn) have begun to wane.

In 1475, the castle and the surrounding “aldermanship” (starostwo) came into the hands of Frederick I, the duke of Brzeg and Legnica, in connection with his repayment of the debt of 2000 guilders (gulden) which he owed to the von Czirn family. The new owner ordered the demolition of the castle. In 1493, a document was issued which provided that duchess Lud-miła, Frederick I’s widow, returned what remained of the Gromnik castle to the von Czirn family. The castle itself was never rebuilt.

During the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, a number of tourist facilities were erected on the Gromnik hill, including a tower with viewing terrace, a dance hall, a tav-ern, stables and a septic tank. During the winter of 1945, the entire complex was blown up. The cleanup of the site, which involved the removal of the debris which had remained un-touched since 1945, commenced only after the year 2000.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first surface surveys of the Gromnik hill were performed back in the 19th century and in the early 20th century. The items unearthed during the surveys included stone axes of two types as well as an axe made of copper, most likely linked to the Lengyel culture. All these findings can generally be considered as originating from the Neolithic period.

During the pre-war period, the excavation research on the site was performed by J. Richter (1909) as well as by Georg Raschke (1927). Unfortunately, the artefacts discovered during these surveys have subsequently been lost.

The first post-war efforts at examining the Gromnik site were made in 1956, when Stanisław Siedlak made an inventory of the side and performed both surface and exploratory surveys, in the course of which several fragments of late medieval pottery were identified. In 1957, 1960 and 1965, further research was carried out at the request of the Archaeological Monuments Protection Officer. In 1964, 9 ceramic fragments were unearthed which were considered to be characteristic of the Lusatian culture. During the same year, Zbigniew Trudzik from the De-partment of Archaeology analysed 9 pottery fragments from Gromnik and concluded that they originated from the 9th or 10th century. Whether the fragments in question were the same as the one found in 1964 remains unknown. During the 1980s and the 1990s, no archae-ological surveys took place on the Gromnik hill. Between 2003 and 2011, certain works were performed which were interrupted for archaeological supervision activities to be carried out; later on, the excavations continued, led by Teresa Dąbrowa, Edyta Lach and then by Krzyszt-of Jaworski and Aleksandra Paszkiewicz from the Institute of Archaeology. The Lusatian cul-ture ceramic fragments recovered from the excavations accounted for approx. 1% of all arte-facts found, which indicates that Gromnik may have been occasionally visited by groups of people during the Hallstatt period, but did not serve as a site of permanent habitation. Alt-hough the fortified structures and buildings comprising the hillfort of the Lusatian culture may have been destroyed during the construction of the early medieval fortified complex or at a later date, this hypothesis is yet to be confirmed.

A relatively large collection of ceramic fragments from the early medieval period (9th-10th century) has been unearthed on the site, accompanied by a fragment of a quern-stone and what is believed to be a weight.

The remnants of the early medieval hillfort and the late medieval castle have been largely de-stroyed in the course of construction of tourist facilities at the top of the hill during the late 19th and early 20th century. However, one may suspect that the hillfort/castle had originally been surrounded by a double rampart made of stone and timber as well as a moat. One of the more interesting structures found on the site is a rotunda-type building with a pair of apses, its architecture showing some very archaic traits. Some researchers have suggested that this may be the remains of an early medieval chapel. However, during the research performed in 2011, Krzysztof Jaworski concluded that this rotunda is in fact a part of a 15th-century fortified tower. During the surveys conducted after 2003, numerous artefacts originating from the times when Gromnik was the seat of the von Czirn family have been unearthed, including pottery fragments, fragments of stove tiles with figural decorations, coins, iron pieces of wea-ponry and horse-riding paraphernalia, an iron knife with a studded handle as well as whet-stones and dice.

The historic monument is accessible to visitors. The former hillfort and burgstall are marked by information plaques. Gromnik remains part of three pedestrian tourist trails - the green trail (Henryków - Grodków), the yellow trail (Przeworno - Puchacz Pass) and the red trail (Strzelin - Sobótka).

compiled by Donata Trenkler, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 14-01-2015.

Bibliography

  • Archaeological Picture of Poland, area 88-29, sheet 1/2.
  • Grodziska wczesnośredniowieczne - katalog, typescript available in the archive of the Region-al Monuments Protection Office in Wrocław
  • Gromnik. Z dziejów zasiedlenia i zagospodarowania szczytu K. Jaworski and A. Pankiewicz (eds.), Wrocław 2007

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: IX w. - poł. X w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Romanów
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district strzeliński, commune Przeworno
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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