Hillfort, former stronghold of Sutiejsk, Sąsiadka
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Hillfort, former stronghold of Sutiejsk

Sąsiadka

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The existing motte contains the remains of the historic fortified settlement of Sutiejsk, one of the so-called Cherven Towns that stood along the route leading from Kiev to Cracow. The Sutiejsk settlement complex consisted of the hillfort proper as well as the open ancillary settlements.

Location and description

The former hillfort, popularly referred to as “The Motte”, is located in the middle of the Sąsiadka village and adjoins the southern side of the cluster of houses which form the settlement. The total surface of the site is approximately 30 000 square metres. It is located at the edge of the valley of the Por river - the left tributary of Wieprz, on a loess hill undercut by two ravines towards the south-east and the south-west. The waterlogged Por river valley surrounds the hill towards the south-west.

The hillfort consists of three major sections, separated from one another by both ramparts and moats: the hillfort proper, the ancillary settlement and the additional fortifications in the form of a defensive rampart. The hillfort itself, with a surface of approx. 140 square metres, was located on the most prominent section of the site, separated from the rest of the complex by a single rampart forming a quadrangle with rounded corners. The height of the relatively well-preserved rampart is between 3.5 and 6 metres, with the width varying between 12 and 15 metres. The ancillary settlement was located between the hillfort proper, the edge of the western ravine and the edge of the river valley; the site of the settlement slopes gently towards the north and has a total surface area of 16 000 square metres. The site was originally protected by a rampart located to the north and the south-east of the settlement itself. The entrance to the ancillary settlement was located towards the south-east. It is on this side that the third part of the complex was located, its significance being of a purely strategic and military nature; it was protected by a single rampart and a moat towards the east; this part of the complex has suffered the greatest amount of damage due to its immediate proximity to the Sąsiadka village. The entire site of the former hillfort remains disused and is overgrown with trees and shrubs. The structure continues to suffer damage as a result of intense erosion, the continuing use of the local road and the excavation of clay, leading to the subsidence of the eastern and western sides of the earthen structure.

History

During the early Middle Ages (between the 11th and the 12th century), a hillfort and ancillary settlement located immediately adjacent to the fort stood on the site, known as Sutiejsk in written sources. The hillfort remained inhabited throughout three settlement phases in total: the construction phase during the 1030s (from the construction of the hillfort - most likely at the request of Jarosław the Wise - until the capture and partial destruction thereof by Bolesław the Bold in 1069), the second phase (from 1096 to the early 12th century) and the third phase, covering the 12th century, during which the hillfort saw different uses - including its use by king Bolesław the Wrymouth as a base camp during his military campaigns. The final days of the hillfort came most likely in 1205, when the fort was captured by duke Roman of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir who waged wars against the Polish dukes in the region during that time.

A Ruthenian chronicle contains a mention of the hillfort in Sąsiadka under its old name of Sutiejsk; the inscription dates back to 1096, yet it actually pertains to an earlier date - 1076, to be precise. Another mention - from 1097 - refers to the capture of Sutiejsk by David Igorovich - the duke of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir. The most recent mention of the hillfort in written sources dates back to 1205 and pertains to the campaign led by duke Roman of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir against the dukes of Poland. The first researcher who connected the existing remains to the historical hillfort of Sutiejsk was Z. Dołęga-Chodakowski. The hillfort was also recognised by K. Moszyński in 1927 as being, in fact, the long-forgotten Sutiejsk hillfort; the researcher reached this conclusion on the basis of a linguistic analysis of the current name of the village - Sąsiadka - as well as on the local topography.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Archaeological research was performed on the site in years 1936 - 1939, 1946-1947 and 1949-1957 under the direction of Z. Wartołowska (although initially the project was headed by W. Antoniewicz). The survey covered an area with a surface of 6140 square metres, encompassing both the former hillfort and its ancillary settlement.

The first contour plan of the site was prepared by B. Guerquin and Z. Sęczykowski in 1936. The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by K. Bęcek and J. Smok in 1985.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by J. Buszewicz, J. Kuśnierz, R. Pomarański and A. Urbański in 1989.

The hillfort in Sąsiadka is one of the most thoroughly researched sites of this kind in Poland.

In the course of research it has been determined that before the rampart of the hillfort was constructed, the whole site was partially levelled. The defensive structure itself was a box rampart (an earthen rampart reinforced with box-like timber structures) These structures were made of wooden logs about 3 metres in length, bound together with lap joints and filled with loess that was dug up from the moat. Wooden walls were positioned perpendicularly towards the external edge of the rampart, while a wooden palisade reinforced with an interwoven layer covered with clay was constructed at the very top of the rampart. The palisade was constructed out of sturdy, vertical posts, traces of which in the form of pits with 30-40 cm diameter have been discovered in all parts of the rampart which were examined by researchers. In addition, the breastwork of the rampart was also protected by a berm. Remnants of a now-vanished wooden tower near the entrance to the hillfort have also been discovered. Inside the former courtyard, traces of a quadrangular residential building with two rooms and a hearth have been discovered; remains of a utility building and a well with the diameter of 8 metres[?], explored to the depth of 15 metres in total, have also been unearthed on the site.

The ancillary settlement was also built on an area which had been partially levelled. Research shows that it was originally protected by an earthen rampart (with the exception of the section located in the immediate vicinity of the river); the northern section of the structure took the form of a box rampart. The traces of the timber box-like revetments discovered here showed that the structures were about 3 metres wide and have been preserved up to the height of 0.5 metres. During the research operations carried out on the site of the ancillary settlement, traces of half-earth lodges made of wooden logs have been unearthed, each of the lodges featuring a pair of dome-shaped hearths. Storage puts and two free-standing hearths have also been found in the immediate vicinity of the lodges. In addition, the survey extended to the so-called defensive rampart - an earthen structure with no traces of additional revetments which provided additional defence against attackers and was erected during the final phase of the hillfort’s existence. Numerous moveable artefacts have been unearthed - mostly fragments of clay vessels as well as numerous metal objects, including different pieces of weaponry and armour (a sword, an axe, spurs and stirrups, arrowheads and spearheads); a variety of bone, glass and stone objects have also been discovered on the site. Another interesting find is the collection of Easter egg sculptures of the Kiev type, made of clay and adorned with yellow enamel. Yet another discovery which deserves a particular attention is the collection of five lead stamps, believed to originate from the late 11th century and the early 12th century, covered with Greek inscriptions which suggest that they may be linked to the court of David Igorevich, the duke of the Great Duchy of Vladimir.

The ring fort is open to visitors. It is located on the site of the Szczebrzeszyn Landscape Park and forms part of the “Central Sightseeing Route of Roztocze”.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 20-09-2012.

Bibliography

  • Banasiewicz E., Grodziska i zamczyska Zamojszczyzny, Zamość 1990, pp. 91-96.
  • Gurba J., Grodziska Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 1976, p. 28-29.
  • Kutrzebianka A., Sąciaska, gród z polsko-ruskiego pogranicza, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, vol. XIII, 1935, pp. 101-106.
  • Nosek S., Materiały do badań nad historią starożytną i wczesnośredniowieczną międzyrzecza Wisły i Bugu, “Annales UMCS” 1951, vol. VI, 1957, sec. F, 1951, Lublin-Cracow, p. 366.
  • Wartołowska Z., Wykopaliska we wsi Sąsiadka w pow. Zamojskim, “Teka Zamojska”, Vol. 1, 1938, pp. 36-39.
  • Wartołowska Z., Gród Czerwieński Sutiejsk na pograniczu polsko-ruskim, “Światowit”, Vol. XXII, 1958.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: XI – XII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sąsiadka
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district zamojski, commune Sułów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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