Early medieval settlement and defence complex, Stradów
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Early medieval settlement and defence complex



The hill fort is Poland’s second largest and one of the most representative of the group of the so-called great hill forts of the Vistula region with the architecture solutions typical of Małopolska. It is a multi-modular complex with an extensive system of motte-and-baileys. It is an outstanding example of one of the most important forts of the tribal period and of the time of the Piast dynasty (11th century) that followed.

Location and description

Stradów is located in the south part of the Świętokrzyskie region, in the area of Wodzisławski Upland, one of the mesoregions of the Nidzica River Basin, in the Nidzica River catchment area. The hill fort is located north of the village, on a loess plateau, elevated above the surrounding terrain, on a gentle slope leaning towards the south-west, and from the west, almost touching a steep cliff of the valley of the Stradomka River. The early medieval settlement complex consists of a hill fort (site 1), two open settlements (site 2 and 4), a burial ground (site 6) and single early medieval skeletons discovered in site 3 (Lusatian culture cemetery). The complex also includes several sites located in the area that have not been investigated before. The hill fort has a total area of ​​approxmately 25 hectares and includes the hill fort proper (Zamczysko) and three motte-and-baileys (Barzyńskie, Mieścisko and Waliki). The hill fort proper, located in the north-west part of the complex, occupied an area of ​​approximately 1.5 hectares and has the shape of a pentagon. It was surrounded by a 500-metre long rampart; from the north, south and east also by a moat. The hill fort bordered on the Mieścisko settlement from the north and Barzyńskie from the north-east, east and south (approx. 16 hectares); the Waliki settlement was the northernmost part of the complex.


Stradów was a central stronghold of the Vistulans. It served the function of a refuge for the local people, often fleeing with all their property, in the event of foreign invasion. The ancillary settlements surely come from that period. They were raised in the 9th or even 8th century. The fort proper - Zamczysko, according to the current knowledge, - was erected later, perhaps in the second half of the 10th century but its area had previously been occupied by an open settlement. It seems that during the Piast period the complex was not destroyed and kept operating. Its crucial administrative and military role is indirectly confirmed in later sources testifying to its relationship with the estate of the Awdaniecs - the family of a great political importance in the early Piast period and in the 12th century. In the 14th and 15th centuries they owned part of the hill fort. It is therefore possible that Stradów was - already in the early Middle Ages - a settlement complex of one of the most mighty noble families of the time. Presumably, in its heyday, the Awdaniecs occupied important offices in the complex, and later took the possession of the settlements and the surrounding area by the prince’s grant of land. However, after a fire in the mid-11th century, the fort was not rebuilt. Probably, it began to lose importance to nearby Wiślica. The organizational structure of the state was evolving and the function fulfilled by hill forts and the need for such big complexes were no longer as they used to be.  Later history of this location is not known. Medieval settlement developed to the south of it. It is not known either whether the interior of the fort was used for agricultural purposes, as was the case later. Certainly, since the 18th century, the area of the motte-and-bailey have served as arable land, which has contributed to a gradual destruction of the archaeological layers. The area of the hill fort proper was used as a communal pasture.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The excavation works were carried out in the years 1956-1963 by the Department of Polish Archeology, Institute of History of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków under the supervision of S. Nosek. They covered the hill fort proper, three motte-and-baileys and the neighboring type-sites. In Zamczysko the remains of the open settlement were examined along with the fortifications surrounding the hill fort. 221 structures were discovered, including 31 sunk, log buildings and four graves. The oldest ramparts were in the form of earthworks with an unspecified wooden structure on the top; others were boxed structures. In 1997 teams supervised by H. Zoll-Adamik and M. Wołoszyn conducted studies of the ramparts of Barzyńskie settlement (wattlework rampart reinforced by horizontal beams) and the rampart separating Barzyńskie and Mieścisko. The first dating of the wooden structures were performed by the dendrochronological method which allowed the determination of the time of the ramparts.

The historical material collected in the research and the documentation are in the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków (Archeological Station in Igołomia)

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 20.08.2014.


  • Buko A. (red.), Stradów. Wczesnośredniowieczny zespół osadniczy. T. 1, „Polskie Badania Archeologiczne”, t. 36, Kraków 2007.
  • Dąbrowska E., Studia nad osadnictwem wczesnośredniowiecznym ziemi wiślickiej, Warszawa 1965, s. 257-268.
  • Dąbrowska E., Wielkie grody dorzecza górnej Wisły, Wrocław 1973, s. 167-169, 254-255.
  • Dąbrowska E., Stradów, [w:] Słownik Starożytności Słowiańskich, t. 5, Wrocław 1975, s. 429-431.
  • Maj U., Stradów, stanowisko 1. Część I. Ceramika wczesnośredniowieczna, Kraków 1990.
  • Maj U., Zoll-Adamikowa H., W kwestii chronologii wczesnośredniowiecznego grodziska w Stradowie, „Sprawozdania Archeologiczne”, 1992, t. 44, s. 273-296.
  • Poleski J., Grody plemienne i wczesnopaństwowe w Małopolsce, [w:] Początki sąsiedztwa. Pogranicze etniczne polsko-rusko-słowackie w średniowieczu, Rzeszów 1996, s. 112-119.
  • Tyniec-Kępińska A., Nowe spojrzenie na fortyfikacje grodu właściwego w Stradowie, woj. kieleckie, „Sprawozdania Archeologiczne”, 1996, t. 48, s. 33-47.
  • Wołoszyn M., Zoll-Adamikowa H., Pierwsze badania wałów podgrodzi w Stradowie w 1997 r., „Sprawozdania Archeologiczne”, 1998, t. 50, s. 229-264.
  • Zoll-Adamikowa H., Problem datowania grodziska w Stradowie w świetle najnowszych badań, [w:] Buko A., Świechowski Z. (red.) Osadnictwo i architektura ziem polskich w dobie zjazdu gnieźnieńskiego, Warszawa 2000, s. 245-248.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: VIII lub IX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Stradów
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kazimierski, commune Czarnocin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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