The “Rudki” archaeological reserve (site of a now-defunct iron ore mine), Sosnówka
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

The “Rudki” archaeological reserve (site of a now-defunct iron ore mine)

Sosnówka

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The only known and oldest underground iron ore mine in the part of Europe lying beyond the boundaries of the Roman Empire, known as the Barbaricum. The activities of the mine – which remained in operation during the very first years following the birth of Jesus Christ, throughout the period of Roman influence (1st – 5th century A.D.), were linked to the functioning of the metallurgical district covering the surrounding part of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.

History

The iron mining facility remained in operation from the 1st/2nd century until the second half of the 3rd century; in addition, exploitation of the deposits was later resumed during the early modern period (in the 18th and the 19th century). Today, the area of the former mining facility is a mixture of industrial estates and unoccupied land.

Description

Location: The site is located in the north-eastern forefield of the Łysogóry mountain range, approximately 3 kilometres north of Nowa Słupia, on the left bank of the Pokrzywianka river; the area used to serve as the site of the “Staszic” iron ore mining facility, which, however, has ceased operations some time ago. The old mining tunnels have been discovered approximately 18 metres beneath the bottom of the small depression or basin situated in the north-eastern part of the “Staszic” mining facility.

Description of the site: Both underground and open-pit mining methods were used for the purposes of iron ore excavation on the site. In the latter case, vertical shafts up to 25 metres deep would be drilled, their walls reinforced with timber structures; they also came equipped with horizontal winzes secured by means of a so-called headboards, supported by pairs of stands with the height of 130-187 cm. The tunnel floors could have also been covered with wooden laths. A bottom-up extraction method was used, with the miners starting with the lowermost layers and working their way upwards. A gangue backfill is known to have been used in the process. The head of the tunnel would be lit with torches or pieces of pinewood dipped in tar. Surface surveys of the site have led to the discovery of a cultural layer – a relic of an age-old settlement – containing, among others, a pair of coins – a denarius from the period of the reign of Emperor Vespasian and its counterpart from the Trajan era. There were also traces of residential structures which proved the existence of Przeworsk culture settlements during the period when the mine itself remained in use.

State and findings of archaeological research: In 1922, Jan Samsonowicz has made the first known mention of the existence of “old mining works” in Rudki. One year later, he conducted a geological survey there in connection with the construction of the “Staszic” hematite and siderite mining facility which ultimately led to the discovery of ancient mining tunnels. In 1925, P. Dąbrowski also wrote of the remnants of the old mine; once the exploitation of ore deposits has begun, numerous traces of caved-in mining tunnels and large quantities of ancient mining tools were being discovered on the site on an ongoing basis. As a result, in the years 1933-34, members of the team led by Stefan Krukowski supervised some of the mining operations, documenting the remnants of the old mining tunnel casings and subterranean shafts. The process of ore mining resumed after World War II, leading to further discoveries. In years 1956-59, Kazimierz Bielenin conducted a series of archaeological surveys of the site.

The site is inaccessible to visitors. The artefacts recovered from the site are kept at the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw and the National Museum in Kielce.

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 29-10-2014

Bibliography

  • Bielenin K., Starożytne górnictwo świętokrzyskie, Warsaw 1964
  • Bielenin K., Starożytne górnictwo i hutnictwo żelaza w Górach Świętokrzyskich, Kielce 1992, pp. 51-53, 139-152
  • Bielenin K., Holewiński S., Rudki – starożytny ośrodek hutniczy w Górach Świętokrzyskich, “Przegląd Geologiczny”, Vol. 9, no. 3, 1961, pp. 134-138.
  • Bielenin K., Radwan M., Badania nad starożytnym hutnictwem świętokrzyskim żelaza w rejonie Gór Świętokrzyskich w latach 1956 i 1957, “Materiały Archeologiczne”, vol. 1, 1959, pp. 279-323
  • Czernek D., Analiza materiału pochodzącego z nadzoru archeologicznego przeprowadzonego przez S. Krukowskiego w latach 1933-1934 na stanowisku Rudki 2/16 – kopalnia „Staszic”, gm. Nowa Słupia, woj. świętokrzyskie, typescript of a master’s thesis written at the Iron Age History Department of the Archaeology Institute of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow under the direction of Professor Renata Madyda-Legutko PhD, Cracow 2003
  • Czernek D., Starożytna kopalnia rud żelaza w Rudkach (Sosnówce), stanowisko 2/16, w świetle badań archeologicznych Stefana Krukowskiego, przeprowadzonych w latach 1933-1934 [in:] S. Orzechowski, I. Suliga (eds.) 50 lat badań nad starożytnym hutnictwem świętokrzyskim. Archeologia – metalurgia – edukacja, Kielce 2006, pp. 91-102   
  • Orzechowski S., Zaplecze osadnicze i podstawy surowcowe starożytnego hutnictwa świętokrzyskiego, Kielce 2007, pp. 164-178
  • Owczarek A., Prehistoryczne roboty poszukiwawcze rudy żelaza w Rudkach koło Kielc, “Przegląd Geologiczny”, no. 6, 1968, pp. 284-286
  • Samsonowicz J., Złoże syderytu i hematytu w Rudkach pod Słupią Nową, “Przegląd Górniczo-Hutniczy”, no. 10, 1923, pp. 1-4

General information

  • Type: site with an economic function
  • Chronology: przełom I/II w. - 2. poł. III w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sosnówka
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Nowa Słupia
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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