"Barbarka" hill fort, Serock
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

"Barbarka" hill fort

Serock

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The ‘Barbarka’ hill fort is a remnant of one of the most important fortified earthworks in Mazovia. The hill fort was within a strategically important location, on the route from Mazovia to Ruthenia, and protected river crossings. Serock had also a customs house. The early medieval hill fort and the ancillary settlements adjacent to it gave rise to the city of Serock.

Location and description

The hill fort is located in the area of land being private property. It is situated on a high terrace of the valley of the Narew river, at a distance of 500 m beneath the mouth of the Bug river to the Narew river. The location of the hill fort offers natural defenses; deep ravines separate the site from a high plain to the south and north, whereas a valley of a brook serves as a defence on the west side of the fort.

The hill fort is now about 5 m above the surrounding area. Researchers have not been able to establish its original height since the structure was partly levelled due to agricultural activities carried out there still in the 1970s. Currently, the maidan measures about 40 m by 35 m. The slopes are overgrown with trees and shrubs. The structure was adapted for tourist purposes. The maidan overgrown with grass can be accessed by wooden stairs. The site also features a commemorative stone, information board and a mock-up of the reconstruction of the monument laid at the foot of the hill fort.

History

The earliest mention of the name ‘Syrozch’ is in the so-called Mogilno Falsification of 1155. It was a prince’s document allegedly issued in 1065 that specified new properties acquired by a Benedictine Abbey located in Mogilno. The abbey were to receive part of the revenues from the fortified settlement and half of the customs duties for crossings of the Bug river. The second mention of the name is in the list of fortified settlements of 1113-1124. At that time Serock was one of the castellan castles and a political, administrative and military centre. A document of King Sigismund III Vasa refers to the passing of ownership of the place in Serock known as ‘Ogrodzisko’ to a parson of Serock for funding the St. Barbara’s Chapel. It is the only mention in written sources about the building from the 17th century discovered in the hill fort from (see Condition and results of archaeological research).

The findings made during archaeological investigations of the site indicate that the hill fort dates back to the 11th-13th century. The investigations of the site also revealed the remains of the later inhumation cemetery, most likely dating back to the Turn of the Middle Ages to Early Modern Times (2nd half of the 15th c. - early 16th century) and foundations of a chapel from the 17th century.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first surface surveys of the hill fort were carried out by Zdzisław Rajewski in 1961. Research excavations of the site were conducted by B. Zawadzka-Antosik from the State Archaeological Museum (Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne) in Warsaw between 1962 and 1966. In 1992, the hill fort was registered under the programme of surface surveys within the framework of the “Archaeological Picture of Poland” project.

The site was subject to two excavations along the north-south axis and east-west axis. Archeologists were able to identify three phases of construction of the rampart. The first phase included the construction of a sand rampart reinforced using a layer of wooden beams. This rampart was destroyed by fire. Its remains were 5.5 wide. The cultural layer, which is a layer of soil formed during the functioning of the fortified settlement, and fragments of which have been identified in the interior of the fortified settlement dates back to the same period. Settlement in this phase was temporary. After that phase, a gap in the use of the fortified settlement was noted based on the build-ups on the site. The second rampart was erected in place of the older fortifications. It was the least identifiable since it was levelled during the construction of the rampart in the third phase. The second rampart was 7-8 metres in widths at the time of its discovery. It was also destroyed by fire. Archeaologist have not found build-ups associated with this phase of use of the fortified settlement. The third rampart was built in a sandwich construction, i.e., logs arranged longitudinally and transversely to the line of fortifications, with the gap between them filled with sand. During the construction the build-ups corresponding to the second and partly the first settlement phase were damaged due to lowering of the ground level inside the castle, i.e., on the maidan. On that site archaeologists found storage pits, traces of pillars of the buildings which stood there one, hearth and burned beams. Investigations of the site also unearthed wheat and rye grains and peas, which were the remains of crop plants cultivated by the inhabitants of Serock. Finds such as hooks for fishing rods and fishing net weights are testimony to the development of fishing. An analysis of the scales and bones found by archaeologists showed that the then inhabitants used to fish for sturgeon, chub, pike, perch, bream, carp and roach. Other finds included fragments of pottery, spindle whorls, combs, knives, fire strikers, bucket bail arms, spurs and arrowheads, as well as cross denarius and Arab dirhem with a tiny hole for hanging, among others.

An investigation of the hill fort has also revealed inhumation cemeteries from a later period, where nine graves have been uncovered. other Fetuses were buried in three of them and newborns and infants were buried in three other graves. Special attention should be paid to the well-preserved grave of a five-month fetus in a clay pot turned upside down, which was discovered about 15 m to the west of the other graves. An investigation of the profile of the excavation did not revealed any traces of an excavation of the burial ground, which indicates that the burial took place before the construction of the chapel in the 17th century and after the early medieval cultural layers had been deposited. The form and method of production of the vessel in which the buried body was put allowed archaeologists to conclude that it dates back to the second half of the 15th century - early 16th century, most likely, however, to the turn of the 15th century to the 16th century.

Archaeological investigation of the eastern part of the hill fort uncovered the remains of the foundations of the seventeenth-century St Barbara’s Chapel. This was a single-nave chapel with an apse. The preserved wall was about 45 m in height. It was built of stones and fragments of bricks which were bonded using lime mortar. The chapel was not accompanies by archaeological finds. Researchers date the chapel to the 17th century based on written sources (see: History of the site).

The hill fort is situated in the green area close to Radzymińska Street. It is well maintained and open to visitors.

Compiled by Agnieszka Oniszczuk, National Heritage Board of Poland, 28.09.2015 r.

Bibliography

  • Perlikowska-Puszkarska U., Serock w świetle badań wykopaliskowych i nadzorów archeologicznych, „Rocznik Mazowiecki“ 2001, vol. 13, pp. 111-120.
  • Pyrgała J., Serock, gmina loco (d. pow. Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki), woj. stołeczne warszawskie, [in:] Grodziska Mazowsza i Podlasia (w granicach dawnego województwa warszawskiego), collective work, Wrocław -Warszawa -Kraków -Gdańsk 1976, pp. 121-122.
  • Zawadzka-Antosik B., Badania na grodzisku wczesnośredniowiecznym w miejscowości Serock, pow. Nowy Dwór, „Wiadomości Archeologiczne“ 1968, vol. 33, issue 3-4, pp. 362-367.
  • Zawadzka-Antosik B., „Pochówki dzieci w naczyniach glinianych”, „Wiadomości Archeologiczne“ 1973, vol. 38, issue 2, pp. 366-371.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: XI-XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Serock
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district legionowski, commune Serock - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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