Burgstall with revetments in the form of an earthen rampart, Skierbieszów
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Burgstall with revetments in the form of an earthen rampart

Skierbieszów

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The burgstall is all that remains of one of the few fortified residences in the Lublin region dating back to such an early period (late Middle Ages), funded by the clergy (the bishops of Chełm). Today, the burgstall continues to be a local landmark which instantly defines the surrounding landscape.

Location and description

The site is located about 800 metres in a straight line towards the east from the clustered buildings which form the village of Skierbieszów, among the extensive meadows in the valley of the Wolica river - the right tributary of Wieprz - on a large hill locally known as “The Burgstall” or “The Bishop’s Castle”. The fortified residence originally rose on a motte separated from the rest of the elevated area by a moat.

The extensive elevated area spreads along the north-west - south-east axis at the length of 375 metres, its width being 160 metres while its height calculated from the base reaches 6 metres. It is surrounded by marshlands and floodplains of the Wolica river. An artificial weir leads towards the hillfort. This weir is probably what is left of the original access ramp that led to the castle. The dimensions of the motte surrounded by a moat are 70 x 55 metres, with the depth of the moat being about 3.5 metres. No remnants of the castle have survived on the motte itself. Today, the burgstall remains disused and overgrown with tall grass during the summer.

History

The site was in use from at least the 14th century, throughout both the 15th and the 16th century, with the latter century seeing a particularly intense use thereof. At the present stage, determining who exactly funded the construction of the building is not possible, although the name most frequently coined in the literature on the subject is that of Jerzy Zamoyski, who performed the function of the bishop of Chełm in years 1601-1621 and at whose initiative a brick church in Skierbieszów was built in 1610. The castle itself was most likely destroyed during one of the enemy raids which took place in the 17th century. It is believed that these events took place in 1657 and that the forces responsible for the destruction of the keep were Transilvanian armies, preceded by the Cossacks, even though some believe that the castle fell two years later to the Swedish invaders instead.

The very first mentions of Skierbieszów date back to 1428, when the site became the property of the church (or of the bishops of Chełm), to be precise; however, the fortified manor or castle was only referred to in the “Hetman Chronicles” written by Stanisław Sarnicki in years 1574-77. There are also reports from 1639 alluding to the existence of a tower in Skierbieszów. The village remained in the hands of the bishops of Chełm until 1783, when the land was confiscated by the Austrians and sold to count Józef Ostroróg. Skierbieszów, much like the neighbouring village of Kumów, most likely served as the summer residence of the bishops of Chełm.

Condition and results of archaeological research

Archaeological research on the site was performed by Maria Supryn in 1973. The research in question took the form of a site survey. The area covered by the survey was 18 square metres - the northern and central parts of the mound, where two small excavations have been made.

The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by Adam Medak and Łukasz Rejniewicz in 2004.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by Andrzej Urbański in 1987.

A site survey was conducted by the historical monument protection services in 2011.

Excavation research was performed at the depth of up to 1.50 metres and none of the excavations have actually reached the level of undisturbed soil below. In addition, three geological boreholes were also made in various locations. It is only the borehole made on the southern part of the motte that the undisturbed soil level was reached; as a result, it has been determined that the cultural layer has the depth of 2.93 metres from the surface level. In the course of research no remnants of any man-made structures have been found; however, inside the excavation made in the centre of the motte, a layer of loose limestone debris has been identified (most likely remnants of a demolished structure), along with numerous pieces of bricks, limestone and clomps of lime mortar, which were present in nearly all layers of soil. On the northern part of the mound, a fragment of earthen fortifications (ramparts) has been discovered, barely visible to the untrained eye due to the substantial level of damage. Researchers found fragments of clay vessels (pots, jugs and bowls) as well as less numerous fragments of stove tiles (including a few tray-shaped tiles as well as a few flat tiles from the Renaissance era), glazed decorative clay tiles adorned with a fish scale pattern as well as iron objects (handmade nails with oval or quadrangular heads, fragments of decorative fittings, fittings used for construction purposes as well as a single piece of a small iron knife.

The site survey conducted in 2011 revealed numerous traces of illegal digging, including one large pit which revealed a fragment of stone foundations bound with sand-lime mortar. This, without a doubt, confirms that a masonry structure - or at least a structure with masonry foundations - had once existed on this site.

The site is open to visitors. It is located in the Skierbieszów Landscape Park, in an area which forms part of various tourist routes: “The Arian Trail”, “The Działy Grabowieckie Trail” and “The Tadeusz Kościuszko Trail”.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, , Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 06-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Banasiewicz E., Grodziska i zamczyska Zamojszczyzny, Zamość 1990, pp. 99-100.
  • Niedźwiedź E., Niedźwiedź J., Siudak J, Dzieje miejscowości gminy Skierbieszów, Skiebieszów-Zamość 2009
  • Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, 1880-1904, Warszawa vol. X, p. 671.
  • Supryn M., Skierbieszów, pow. Zamość, “Informator Archeologiczny. Badania rok 1973”, 1974, p. 268.

General information

  • Type: castle
  • Chronology: XIV-XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Skierbieszów
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district zamojski, commune Skierbieszów
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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