Early medieval hill fort, Zawichost
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Zawichost was one of the oldest and most important centers of the Sandomierz region in early medieval times. The hill fort Zawichost - Podgórze oes back to the tribal period when the settlement, as can be inferred from Jan Długosz’s chronicle, was the "head" of the region. It could have been even more important than Sandomierz, which is not far from here. It is the only case, besides Western Pomerania (Wolin-Kamień), in medieval Poland when two such strong centres were situated so close to each other. Both settlements were located along a strategically important route, which allowed the control of the crossings over the Vistula River. Zawichost sat on the route to Włodzimierz and Kiev, and Sandomierz to Przemyśl and Halicz. The importance of Zawichost in the early Middle Ages is also stressed by the fact that at the end of the 12th century it has three parish churches, while Sandomierz, before being granted the town rights, only one. Among them, the parish church of the Virgin Mary must have performed a key function, as it owned the Łagów settlement, which is evidenced in the bull of Pope Eugene III of 1148. It is the only case in Poland when a parish owned a small gord. At the end of the 12th century, Zawichost was the seat of the castellan and archdeacon.

Location and description

Zawichost is located approximately 17 km north-west of Sandomierz, on the same bench of the left bank of the Vistula River. The settlement is to be found in the south part of the town called Podgórze, on a headland clearly standing out of the edge of the loess plateau and limited by two deep gorges on the sides, and a steep inclination towards the valley of the Vistula River on the third side. The hill fort consists of the main section and two motte-and-baileys. The southernmost was the fort proper covering approximately 0.5 hectares, surrounded by the rampart of 2-3 m in height. North of it there were two motte-and-baileys separated from the upland by section embankments. The fort was a large, multi-modular complex of approximately 5 hectares.


The fort in Podgórze was founded in the 8th or at the beginning of the 9th century as a replacement for an older open settlement, perhaps of the 7th century, as an important tribal settlement. It was destroyed ca. mid-10th century, probably as a result of the conquest by Polanie. In the 2nd half of the 10th century there might have been some repairs carried out of the rampart, however, in the 11th century the fort was no longer operating. In the late 10th or early 11th century, an open settlement was established here. Another fort, an the administrative center of the Piast state, was already located elsewhere. Probably, it was built in the 12th century, or even earlier, on the Vistula River escarpment where the medieval town was growing, east of the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet, it remains unclear whether within the settlement, by the later Holy Trinity Church (where the silver treasure of the 11th century was discovered), there was an even earlier fort. Geophysical surveys and drillings have not confirmed it. No later than in the mid-14th century (or even during the reign of Bolesław the Chaste after the destruction of the fort by the Mongols in 1241) a stone castle was built in the Vistula River. Today, the area of Podgórze serves as an orchard.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The settlement was located in 1921 during the studies conducted by Ludwik Sawicki and Stefan Krukowski. Between 1962 and 1964, Bogdan Balcer carried out the excavation work in the motte-and-bailey area. Although they focused on a large settlement of the Funnelbeaker culture (ca. 3,700-3,200 BC) in the same place, the discoveries also revealed a number of early half-earth lodgings, surface buildings and the accompanying outbuildings. In 1974 Stanisław Tabaczyński drilled through the embankment of the hill fort proper. In 2000 wood samples collected from the embankment main section were tested by the C14 method for dating.

The site is accessible to visitors.

Compiled by Nina Glińska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 14.05.2015.


  • Informator archeologiczny, 1974, s. 215-216.
  • Balcer B., Stanowisko Pieczyska (Zbrza Wielka) w Zawichoście Podgórzu, pow. Sandomierz w świetle pierwszych wykopalisk, „Wiadomości Archeologiczne”, t. 32, z. 3-4, 1966-67, s. 290-375.
  • Buko A., Archeologia Polski wczesnośredniowiecznej, Warszawa 2005, s. 239-243.
  • Florek M., Nowe materiały do poznania pradziejowego i wczesnośredniowiecznego osadnictwa w okolicach Sandomierza, „Zeszyty Sandomierskie”, t. 20/21, s. 78.
  • Florek M., Zagadki grodów zawichojskich, „Zeszyty Sandomierskie”, t. 29, s. 13-19.
  • Lalik T., Sandomierskie we wcześniejszym średniowieczu. Prowincja, księstwo, województwo [w:] Wąsowicz T., Pazdur J. (red.) Studia Sandomierskie. Materiały do dziejów miasta Sandomierza i regionu sandomierskiego, Łódź 1967, s. 41-109.
  • Lalik T., Zawichost we wcześniejszym średniowieczu, [w:] Dunin-Wąsowicz T., Tabaczyński S. (red.) Szkice Zawichojskie, Zawichost 1999, s. 39-55.
  • Słupecki L. P., Osady służebne pod Sandomierzem i Zawichostem, [w:] Dunin-Wąsowicz T., Tabaczyński S. (red.) Szkice Zawichojskie, Zawichost 1999, s. 73-90.
  • Tabaczyńscy E. i T., Zawichost - „caput terrae Sandomiriensis”?, [w:] Dunin-Wąsowicz T., Tabaczyński S. (red.) Szkice Zawichojskie, Zawichost 1999, s. 189-221.
  • Wiśniewski J., Dekanat Sandomierski, Radom 1915, s. 307.
  • Wyczółkowski D., Sieć parafialna zaplecza Zawichostu, [w:] Dunin-Wąsowicz T., Tabaczyński S. (red.) Szkice Zawichojskie, Zawichost 1999, s. 57-71.

General information

  • Type: hillfort
  • Chronology: VIII lub IX – poł. X w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Zawichost
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district sandomierski, commune Zawichost - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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