Hillfort, Tarnów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
photo

A truly unique example of a hillfort located on an “island” rising among the extensive marshes and peatlands, this structure continues to give researchers valuable insight into the appearance of early medieval hillforts which served as a safe haven for the local population in times of danger. The hillfort consists of the inner yard surrounded by two earthen ramparts, two additional segmented defensive earthen structures as well as moats. The site is a unique part of the landscape of the Polesie National Park.

Location and description

The hillfort is located in the northern part of Tarnów, approximately 700 metres north-west of the Aleksandrówka village when calculated in a straight line. The site forms part of a marshy, waterlogged area known as “Bagno Staw” (“Swamp Pond”), located within the territory of the Polesie National Park. The place is also known locally as “Wały” (“The Ramparts”).

The hillfort, with a total area of about 1 hectare, is located on a small islet which rises from the northern part of the peat bog known as “Bagno Staw” which belongs to the so-called blanket peat bogs, with the thickness of the peat layer being between 0.2 and 3 metres. The water from the peat bog is drained into the Włodawka river which has its source somewhere in this region. The site consists of two ring-shaped ramparts and moats (although the term “trench” appears to be more adequate due to their rather limited depth), surrounding the inner yard with a surface area of about 0.4 hectares. The ramparts were positioned at the distance of 2-3 metres from one another and separated by a trench. The surface of the inner yard is relatively flat, with only a slight slope towards the south, where a slight depression lies. From the north, the hillfort was also protected by two additional, segmental ramparts along with the surrounding trenches. The shape of the western part of the ramparts remains much more vague today than that of the other parts thereof due to the rapid encroachment of swamp vegetation (sedges). A depression in the outer rampart is clearly visible in the north-western section thereof, believed to be the trace of the entrance into the hillfort.

History

The hillfort in what is now known as the village of Tarnów remained in use during the early Middle Ages (8th - 11th century). The hillfort performed the function of a place of refuge and was therefore not inhabited on a permanent basis; its main advantages which made it well suited to its function were mostly the natural features of its location (the surrounding marshes), with the purpose-built revetments in the form of earthen banks and trenches playing only a secondary role.

There appear to be no mentions whatsoever of the hillfort in written sources.

The site was first discovered in 1961. The first mention of the site in the literature on the subject was made by Stanisław Skibiński in 1964.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The archaeological survey of the site was conducted under the direction of Tomasz Dzieńkowski in 2006, with a total of 9 excavations being made which intersected the former inner yard, the ramparts and the moats along the north-south axis.

The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by Adam Medak in 2006.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out by Halina Wróbel in 1986.

As a result of the research conducted, the structures of four ramparts and trenches have been identified. All the ramparts were characterised by their uniform, earthen structure and similarities in size. The width of these ramparts at the base was between 4 and 6 metres, with the height of the surviving structures being between 0.4 and 0.8 metres. The initial height of the ramparts - none of which seem to have had any wooden reinforcing structures - may have been between 1 and 2 metres, according to current estimates. The relatively small trenches from which the soil used to construct the ramparts was extracted also indicates that these ramparts were relatively small in size. No additional fortifications in the form of fences or palisades have been identified on the top of the ramparts. This suggests that both the ramparts and the trenches were constructed mostly in order to serve as the boundaries of the site and to prevent it against flooding, with the capacity to fend off armed attacks playing a secondary role at best. Inside the former inner yard of the hillfort, the humus layer was only 0.2 - 0.3 metres thick and contained large quantities of moveable artefacts; there were also two storage pits and pieces of what might have been a cobblestone pavement. The pits and historic materials found on the site were all located mostly near the ramparts, on a strip of land between 2 and 3 metres wide, with the centre of the former inner yard of the hillfort being completely empty. In addition, outside the hillfort proper, some traces of human habitation have also been discovered in the area near the two northern ramparts. A large number of moveable artefacts have been found there, along with a purpose-made hollow near the rampart. The absence of any traces of permanent structures and the presence of artefacts in the humus layer indicates that the hillfort was only inhabited for brief periods of time, albeit on numerous occasions.

In the course of research, a total of 547 moveable artefacts have been unearthed, including mostly fragments of early medieval clay vessels. In addition, a few fragments of prehistoric pottery (including some attributable to the Lusatian culture) as well as a few dozen pieces of 15th and 16th century vessels have also been discovered. Other findings included flint slivers, stones, pugging, animal bones as well as a hook-shaped iron spur believed to originate from the period between the 8th and the 10th century.

The site is open to visitors only upon prior arrangement with the management of the Polesie National Park. Due to the marshy nature of the surrounding area, the site may present a hazard to visitors.

Bibliography

  • Dzieńkowski T., Badania archeologiczne wczesnośredniowiecznego „grodziska schronieniowego” na „Bagnie Staw” w Tarnowie, pow. chełmski, stan. 1, “Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej”, 2007, vol. IX, pp. 79-95.
  • Dzieńkowski T., Poleskie pogranicze kulturowe w XI-XIII wieku [in:] Badania archeologiczne na Polesiu, red. E. Banasiewicz-Szykuła. Lublin 2006, pp. 119-134.
  • Gurba J., Grodziska Lubelszczyzny, Lublin 1976, pp. 32-33.
  • Kusiak J., Datowanie metodą termoluminescencyjną ceramiki ze stan. 1 w Tarnowie, pow. chełmski, “Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej”, 2007, vol. IX, pp. 97-98.
  • Skibiński S., Grodzisko wczesnośredniowieczne „Wały” w Tarnowie-Karczunku, pow. Chełm, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, 1964, vol. 30, issue 3-4, pp. 500-502.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: VIII - XI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Tarnów
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district chełmski, commune Wierzbica
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

Licence:

report issue with this site

Geoportal Map

Google Map

See also in this area