W "archeologicznym El Dorado" - szlakiem grodzisk i kurhanów w dolinie rzeki Chodelki
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

users tour Łukasz Miechowicz

W "archeologicznym El Dorado" - szlakiem grodzisk i kurhanów w dolinie rzeki Chodelki

6

several hours

lubelskie

Barrow cemetery
Chodlik

one hour

An early medieval barrow cemetery used for the purposes of the burial of cremated remains - one of the best-preserved sites of its kind anywhere in Poland and the only necropolis of this size to be found in the Chodelska Valley so far. Along with the nearby hillfort in Chodlik, it forms part of an extensive settlement complex from the early medieval period. The site - which has been subject to excavation research from 2010 onwards - has not only changed our knowledge of the local funerary customs, but also provided the impetus for the commencement of research on the early medieval funerary rites among the Slavic peoples.

Location and description

The barrow cemetery is located in the Kowalonka river valley, on the sandy hills overgrown with trees, about 1.5 kilometres to the south-east from the clustered buildings which form the village of Chodlik and approximately 2 kilometres south of the Chodlik hillfort. The site forms part of the area under the administration of the State Forest Holding (Kraśnik Forest District).

The cemetery consists of 29 burial mounds, most of them well-preserved. The mounds vary in terms of size, with most of them being from 8 to 15 metres in diameter and from about 50 to 170 centimetres in height. The tumuli are arranged in four tight clusters with a total area of about 3.5 hectares, situated at a distance of 100 and 500 metres from one another respectively. The first cluster of burial mounds has the surface of approx. 0.98 hectare and includes 12 barrows in total; the second one occupies an area with a surface of 2.23 hectares and has 13 barrows in total, while the third one - with a surface of about 0.3 hectares - consists of a mere 4 burial mounds and is intersected by a forest road. The site of the cemetery is overgrown by a mixed forest and rather sparse undergrowth. Some of the tumuli have been damaged due to the ignorant exploitation of the surrounding area or as a result of the presence of animal burrows.

History

The barrow cemetery located in the area which today forms part of the village of Chodlik originates from the early Middle Ages (8th - 9th century). The barrow cemetery in Chodlik was discovered in 2007. Until the commencement of archaeological research, there were no mentions of the cemetery in the literature on the subject.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The archaeological research on the site are being conducted by Łukasz Miechowicz from 2010 onwards, within the framework of the so-called Archaeological Mission in Chodlik, managed by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Research Association of Polish Archaeologists (Warsaw branch).

In 2010, a single tumulus in the cluster no. 2 was examined. It has been determined that its base was square in shape, with the earthen structure being partially levelled and flattened (which was possibly a part of the funerary practices of the time); in addition, three deep ditches positioned in the vicinity of the tumulus itself have also been found. Beneath the earthen structure, there was a layer of burnt material (traces of cleansing of the area by fire before the tumulus was built) as well as an outline of an unidentified rectangular structure. Traces of small pyres have been discovered within the walls of the burial mound itself. The burial mound contained cremated remains in the form of more than 3.5 thousand charred horse bones as well as very few fragments of human bones belonging to an adult male (adultus/maturus anthropological category). There were also pieces of clay vessels as well as bronze fragments of a harness (four rivets, two flat metal sheets and one boss). Initially, the bodies were placed on a funeral pyre at the top of the mound, built on a square plan. Some time later, the upper part of the mound was levelled, with the earth being allowed to slide down its sides; it was also at that point that the practice of lighting small pyres on the tumulus has emerged. According to a tentative estimate, the tumulus is believed to originate either from the 8th or the 9th century.

In 2012, during the examination of another burial mound, it has been discovered that the burial has taken place at the top of the mound, with about one thousand bone fragments having been found there. The artefacts found inside the mound included fragments of five clay vessels, two bronze and iron buckles and bronze strap fittings (most likely parts of a spur strap) the design of which was reminiscent of Great Moravian or Carolingian art. The initial analysis of bone fragments has shown that the mortal remains belonged to a young man who was cremated along with his horse. Among the bone fragments discovered there were also some cremated remains of other animal species. The barrow itself was most likely erected during the second half of the 10th century; it was designed on a square plan, just like the one previously examined. In the course of surveys carried out in the area between the individual mounds, it has been determined that before a barrow cemetery was established here, the area was a forest which was set on fire in order to make space for the burial ground. In addition, traces of a much older, bronze age settlement of the Trzciniec culture have also been discovered. Numerous fragments of clay vessels as well as flint slivers and a half of a flint axe have also been unearthed on the site. During one of the site surveys, fragments of clay vessels characteristic of the early phase of the Przeworsk culture and of the Trzciniec culture have been discovered.

In 2013 and 2014, a survey of six further mounds was conducted, with the mounds in question being located on a hill known as Bartosiowa Górka. The mounds in question have been substantially levelled over the years, making them virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the surrounding terrain when looking from surface level. Inside, rare types of cremated and pit burials have been found; there was also a ditch containing charred human and animal remains as well as fragments of early medieval clay vessels. Deposits of bones and pieces of early medieval clay vessels were also found directly beneath the ground in the cemetery itself. Inside the excavations made, objects and artefacts from the neolithic period and early bronze age have also been discovered; these artefacts are traces of both the Funnelbeaker culture and the Trzciniec culture, with some items originating from the late pre-Roman period. The early medieval artefacts discovered on the site include fragments of painted pottery, three appliqués which had most likely formed part of a horse tack, a decorative nail with traces of fire damage as well as a heavily corroded spur, the age of which was estimated at between the early 10th century and the mid-11th century.

Accessible historic site.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 10-09-2015.

Bibliography

  • Banasiewicz-Szykuła, E., Gołub I., Mączka G., Koman W., Zieniuk P., Sprawozdanie z działalności w zakresie ochrony zabytków archeologicznych w województwie lubelskim w 2010 roku [in:] “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie Województwa Lubelskiego”, Lublin 2011, pp. 14-15
  • Banasiewicz-Szykuła E., Gołub IKoman., W., Mączka G., Zieniuk P., Sprawozdanie z działalności w zakresie ochrony zabytków archeologicznych w województwie lubelskim w 2013 roku [in:] “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie Województwa Lubelskiego”, Lublin 2014, pp. 20-21
  • Miechowicz Ł., Wstępne sprawozdanie z archeologicznych badań wykopaliskowych na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku ciałopalnym w Chodliku, gm. Karczmiska, woj. lubelskie w 2013 roku, stanowisko no. AZP 25/117 78-75, Warsaw 2014, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin
  • Miechowicz Ł., Chodlik. Badania 2007-2013, Warsaw 2014, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin
  • Miechowicz Ł., Sprawozdanie z archeologicznych badań wykopaliskowych na wczesnośredniowiecznym cmentarzysku kurhanowym w Chodliku, gm. Karczmiska, woj. lubelskie w 2010roku, Warsaw 2010, documentation available at the Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Lublin

transport time to the next site

5 min

4 min

The Chodlik hillfort
Chodlik

one hour

During the early Middle Ages, the hillfort in Chodlik was one of the powerful fortified structures clustered inside the Chodelska Valley. Considered to be one of the so-called great Slavic hillforts, the structure was protected by no less than three ramparts with a total length of almost two kilometres. It is estimated that the settlement complex in Chodlik occupied an area of approx. 20 hectares - or between 80 and 100 hectares if we also include the nearby open settlements. The entire complex consisted of the strongly fortified hillfort as well as the extensive auxiliary settlement which adjoined it to the south-east. From 1997 onwards, a festival known as the May Day Archaeological Picnic has been held every year on the site of the hillfort.

Location and description

The hillfort is located in the western part of the village of Chodlik, about 200 metres in a straight line south-west of the last village buildings, 400 metres away from the Chodelka riverbed and about 2 kilometres north of the Żmijowisko hillfort. It is situated between the Chodelka and Jankówka riverbeds, in the south-eastern part of expansive floodplains which cover an area the shape of which approximates that of a triangle, its base paralleling the course of the Chodelka river. The hillfort lies in an area which used to be swampy and inaccessible, although it has since been drained. The site is known by its local name of “Szwedzkie Wały” (“Swedish Ramparts”).

The settlement complex in Chodlik consists of the remnants of a hillfort as well as of the auxiliary settlement which lies south-east of the fort. The hillfort is an example of a lowland fortified complex with a surface area of approximately 8 hectares, designed as a ring fort with three separate ramparts. The complex also featured a triple moat system designed to fend off potential attackers. Today, the remains of the fortifications can be discerned among the surrounding terrain mostly on the southern and western sections thereof, where the ramparts still reach the height of 2 - 2.5 metres in some places. An extensive auxiliary open settlement adjoins the hillfort to the south-east, its total surface being approximately 12 hectares. It is suspected that the remaining part of the hill (about 80 - 100 hectares in total) was used as arable land during the times when the hillfort remained inhabited. In the 1960s, a part of the former hillfort was intersected by an irrigation ditch and a road. Today, the site of the hillfort remains disused and is overgrown with grass as well as trees, since the nearby forest has since managed to encroach upon parts of the site.

History

The hillfort in what is known today as the village of Chodlik has already been in existence during the early Middle Ages (between the 8th and the 9th century), with the accompanying open settlement remaining in use between the 9th and the 11th century. A. Gardawski, who explored the hillfort during the 1950s and the 1960s, has come to the conclusion that the ramparts around the fort have been erected in stages, starting with the inner rampart and followed by the middle and, finally, the outermost one. The author has also stated that the hillfort was being continuously extended throughout its lifetime. Today, however, the theory that the ramparts might have in fact all been erected at the same time is also considered acceptable.

There appear to be no mentions whatsoever of the hillfort in written sources. The Chodlik hillfort was discovered by A. Chotyński in 1907.

Condition and results of archaeological research

In the years 1952 as well as 1959-1962, an exploration of the site under the direction of A. Gardawski took place, followed by further research in years 1963-64 and 1966 (A. Gardawski, S. Hoczyk-Siwkowa) as well as in years 1968 and 1972 (A. Gardawski, I. Kutyłowska). In 1975, S. Hoczyk-Siwkowa carried out further research on the site. In the years 2000-2002, S. Hoczyk-Siwkowa and P. Lis conducted a series of excavations in the area. The research programme spanned a number of seasons and encompassed both the former inner yard of the hillfort, its ramparts and moats as well as the south-eastern auxiliary settlement.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out in 1980.

In 2002, M. Krąpiec carried out dendrochronological and dendrological analyses of the burned-out wood samples discovered in the course of archaeological research.

As a result, it has been determined that the defensive ramparts surrounding the now-vanished hillfort were by no means uniform in terms of their internal structure. Rampart no. 1 (the inner rampart, located closest to the inner yard of the hillfort and completely levelled in some sections) was the lowest of all three, with its height being a mere 0.70 metres, while its width was about 10 metres when measured at its base. It was purely an earthen bank, with no wooden inner structures whatsoever. It is suspected, however, that it might once have been topped with a palisade, allowing it to serve as the first line of defence. Rampart no. 2 (the middle one), with the height of about 1.30 metres and the width of approx. 12 metres at its base, was also a purely earthen structure in some sections, yet in other places it also featured a wooden internal framework (timber-laced rampart). Archaeological research was carried out on the southern, south-eastern and eastern sections of the rampart. Rampart no. 3 (the outer rampart) was likewise an earthen structure, although some fragments were designed as a box rampart instead. The sections which were examined by researchers were the southern, eastern and northern parts of the structure. A total of 120 metres of the northern section of the rampart are known to have originally been a box rampart, with a full outline of the base of a box-type structure made of heavy, scribe-fit interlocking wooden logs having been discovered inside one of the excavations; the outer and inner dimensions of this structure were 8 x 8.5 metres and 5.5 x 5.5 metres respectively, with the inside of the box being filled with earth. The discovery of the remains of charred timbers inside the ramparts clearly show that the hillfort has been destroyed by fire at some point. The residential buildings were mostly clustered in the southern section of the oval yard and in the area between the inner and the middle rampart, with the surviving remains of these structures being mostly the remnants of half-earth lodges made of wooden logs and equipped with stone hearths. No traces of any buildings were discovered in the northern part of the hillfort. In the middle of the inner yard there was a well with a timber casing made of scribe-fit interlocking logs; dendrochronological dating shows that the well was built back in the year 725 or 945. The exploration of the open settlement, on the other hand, yielded results in the form of remnants of man-made structures - hearths, storage pits and large clusters of moveable artefacts. In the course of the long exploration of the site, spanning a number of seasons, intriguing and valuable moveable artefacts have been unearthed, most of them being fragments of clay vessels of the so-called Chodlik type (made by hand and then turned, adorned with horizontal and undulating lines) as well as objects made of bone, metal and clay, flint and stone tools and animal bones. The most recent years have brought about a new discovery in the form of a barrow cemetery located in the vicinity of the remains of the hillfort. In the burial ground, traces of lavish burials of the ashes of men and horses have been found, with their mortal remains being deposited on the earthen structures of the mounds. Inside one of the mounds, charred bones of a man and a horse were discovered, along with bronze pieces of a harness and fragments of clay vessels dating back to the 9th/10th century.

The site is open to the general public.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 14-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Gajewski L., Wyniki wstępnych badań na grodzisku wczesnośredniowiecznym we wsi Chodlik, pow. Puławy, “Wiadomości Archeologiczne’, vol. XX, 1954, pp. 86-89.
  • Gardawski A., Z zagadnień kultury wczesnego średniowiecza południowej Polski, “Rocznik Lubelski” 1966, vol. 9, pp. 9-53
  • Gardawski A., Chodlik. Część 1. Wczesnośredniowieczny zespół osadniczy w Chodliku. “Biblioteka Archeologiczna”, vol. 21, Wrocław-Warsaw 1970.
  • Hoczyk-Siwkowa S., Chodlik, gm. Karczmiska, woj. lubelskie, “Informator Archeologiczny. Badania rok 1975”, Warsaw 1976, p. 166
  • Hoczyk-Siwkowa S., Lis P., Najnowsze odkrycia na grodzisku w Chodliku, “Z Otchłani Wieków”, No. 1-4/2003, pp. 88-92.
  • Kutyłowska I., Chodlik, pow. Opole Lubelskie, “Informator Archeologiczny. Badania 1968”, Warsaw 1969, pp. 222-223.

transport time to the next site

47 min

20 min

Hillfort
Żmijowiska

one hour

During the early Middle Ages, the hillfort was one of a group of powerful fortified structures clustered inside the Chodelska Valley. It is estimated that the settlement complex in Żmijowiska occupied an area of approx. 2.92 hectares. The entire complex consisted of the strongly fortified hillfort as well as the extensive northern and southern ancillary settlements. The partially reconstructed hillfort has later served as the basis for the establishment of an archaeological open-air museum known as the Museum of Old Slavic Culture - the only open, themed museum in Poland where visitors can experience archaeology first hand and which they can explore on their own regardless of the time of the day. Available attractions include the surviving remnants of the fortifications that had once surrounded the Slavic hillfort, supplemented by the partially reconstructed parts of the defensive structures: the hillfort gate along with the drawbridge, the earthen and wooden rampart as well as the pre-rampart in the form of the so-called “Polish fence”.

Location and description

The hillfort is located in the eastern part of the village of Żmijowiska, about 0.5 kilometres south-east of the clustered village buildings when calculated in a straight line and about two kilometres north of the hillfort in Chodlik. It is situated on an elongated, sandy mound with a surface of 1.5 hectares, positioned at the fork of the Chodelka and Jankówka rivers. The site is known by its local name of “Szwedzkie Okopy” (“Swedish Trenches”).

The settlement complex in Żmijowiska consists of the remnants of a hillfort as well as of two auxiliary settlements. The hillfort is an example of a lowland fortified complex with a surface area of approximately 0.1 hectares and the diameter of approx. 35 metres, designed as a ring fort with a single rampart. The rampart is protected by a double moat. Today, about one-third of the circumference of the rampart, located in the western and the north-western parts of the complex, remain visible in the surrounding terrain. The rest of the rampart has unfortunately been bulldozed during the 1990s. Apart from the hillfort itself, there are also remnants of open ancillary settlements located south and north of the hillfort. Today, the site of the settlement complex in Żmijowiska remains under the protection and care of the Vistula Riverside Museum in Kazimierz Dolny. In years 2005-2012, the Museum has implemented a highly innovative project known as the “Museum of Old Slavic Culture - an open themed museum”, which also involved the reconstruction of parts of the hillfort. The open-air museum has been opened to the public in 2012.

History

The hillfort in what is now known as the village of Żmijowiska remained in use during the early Middle Ages (late 9th century - 10th century). Unfortunately, the currently available data is insufficient to determine the moment of the hillfort’s destruction or the chronological relations between the hillfort and the surrounding open settlements.

The hillfort in Żmijowiska was originally discovered by A. Chotyński back in 1907. In 1965, during the research programme of the settlement complex in Chodlik, led by A. Gardawski and spanning a number of seasons, the site in Żmijowiska was explored by S. Hoczyk, with the erstwhile designation of the site being “Chodlik - site no. 4”. In 1966, the results of the survey were verified by A. Gardawski, who concluded that the site was, in fact, the Żmijowiska hillfort - a place largely forgotten by the research community and absent from publications on the subject.

Condition and results of archaeological research

The first archaeological works on the site were performed in 1965 by S. Hoczyk; these were subsequently followed up in years 2002-2003 by P. Lis. In years 2006-2007, the exploration of the site was carried on by P. Lis and A. Kacprzak, while in years 2010-2011 A. Kacprzak and S. Załuski performed further works linked to the preparations to establish an archaeological open-air museum on the site of the former settlement.

The location and height plan of the site was drawn up by Ł. Rejniewicz and J. Leszczyńska in 2002.

Surface surveys of the site within the framework of the ‘Archaeological Picture of Poland’ project were carried out in 1980 and were supplemented by the survey performed by P. Lis in 2009.

In 2002, M. Krąpiec carried out dendrochronological and dendrological analyses of the burned-out wood samples discovered in the course of archaeological research.

In the course of the research performed it has been determined that the hillfort originally had a rather small diameter - 25 metres when calculated from the outer rampart; however, the system of fortifications of the hillfort was remarkably sophisticated for its day. The mainstay of the entire system was the earthen rampart reinforced by a wooden structure on top. The height of the earthen structure was more than 2 metres from its base, with the width being up to approx. 6 metres, tapering to a rather more modest 2 metres at the top, where the wooden revetments rose. The rampart was reinforced on both sides by a wall made of wooden logs positioned horizontally on short, transverse supports and held together by piles driven into the earthen structure either vertically or diagonally. No traces of any structures projecting from the apex of the rampart have been identified in the course of the survey. It is believed that the structure may have been a palisade or a fence made of interwoven tree branches, supported by vertical posts. The ramparts of the hillfort were originally protected by two shallow trenches with the depth of just 38-65 centimetres, most likely due to high water table. The presence of groundwater made it difficult to extract the soil needed to build the rampart from just one trench - hence the decision to build another one. An additional revetment in the form of a wooden fence (which formed a single line in the southern section and a double line in the north-eastern section) has also been identified on a high ground which separates both trenches (the so-called pre-rampart). In the eastern part of the rampart (from the direction of the now-vanished ancillary settlement), traces of wooden structures forming part of the wooden gate have been found. The surveys of the inner yard of the hillfort performed so far have failed to yield any traces of residential buildings, with the only findings that have been made being the relatively shallow cultural layers as well as two postholes which may be the traces of buildings that had once abutted the rampart. In the course of the exploration of the site, a large number of moveable artefacts has been obtained, nearly all of them being fragments of clay vessels. Other interesting finds include an axe, a tool reminiscent of an adze, a small, conical arrowhead made of iron, fragments of a limestone spindle whorl as well as pieces of a rotating quern-stone. In addition, a late paleolithic flint core and other flint and ceramic artefacts of the Trzciniec culture have been identified, proving that before the hillfort was erected, the site was also inhabited during the distant prehistoric years as well as in the Bronze Age.

The site serves as an open-air archaeological museum which can be visited for free; there are also additional museums classes, workshops and similar activities available for an extra fee.

Contact information: e-mail: archeologia@mnkd.pl, phone: 81 88 10 277/288 (internal number 55), mobile phone: 517 331 553.

compiled by Ewa Prusicka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 14-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Gardawski A., Z zagadnień kultury wczesnego średniowiecza południowej Polski, “Rocznik Lubelski” 1966, vol. 9, pp. 9-53
  • Hoczyk S., Sprawozdanie z badań wczesnośredniowiecznego stanowiska IV w Chodliku, pow. Opole Lubelskie, “Sprawozdania Archeologiczne” 1969, vol. 20, pp. 305-312
  • Hoczyk- Siwkowa S., Małopolska północno-wschodnia w VI-X w. Struktury osadnicze. Lublin 1999.
  • Kacprzak A., Zespół osadniczy w Żmijowiskach, woj. lubelskie - badania 2011 r. [in:] Badania archeologiczne w Polsce Środkowowschodniej, zachodniej Białorusi i Ukrainie w roku 2011. Streszczenie referatów XXVIII konferencji sprawozdawczej. (U. Kurzątkowska, A. Zakościelna, J. Libera (eds.)), Lublin 2012, p. 27.
  • Kacprzak A., Grodzisko Żmijowiska - ośrodek archeologi doświadczalnej [in:] Rekonstrukce a prezentace archeologickych objektu 2 (T. Zelenka (ed.)), Destne v Orlickych horach, 2013, pp. 37-48
  • Kacprzak A., Grodzisko Żmijowiska - muzeum i ośrodek archeologii doświadczalnej [in:] Archeologia doświadczalna w Grodzisku Żmijowiska. Eksperymenty 2008-2012 (P. Lis (ed.)), Kazimierz Dolny 2014, pp. 15-20.
  • Kulawczuk M., Lis P., Wczesnośredniowieczny topór z grodziska w Żmijowiskach, pow. opolski, “Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej”, 2007, vol. IX, pp. 305-308.
  • Lis P. Badania archeologiczne grodziska w Żmijowiskach, “Powiśle Lubelskie”, no. 1/2003, pp. 9 - 10.
  • Lis P.,Wczesnośredniowieczne grodzisko w Żmijowiskach (gm. Wilków, pow. Opole Lubelskie) w świetle badań archeologicznych, “Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej”, 2006, vol. VIII, pp. 85-98
  • Lis P., Sprawozdanie z badań wykopaliskowych w roku 2006 wczesnośredniowiecznego grodziska w Żmijowiskach, pow. opolski, Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej, 2007, vol. IX , pp. 107-116.
  • Lis P., Żmijowiska. Na skrzyżowaniu szlaków kulturowych [in:] Hereditas Praeteriti. Additamenta archeologia et historia dedicata Ioanni Gurba Octogesimo Anno Nascendi (H. Taras, A. Zakościelna (ed.)), Lublin 2009, pp. 407-414.
  • Lis P., Program badawczo-edukacyjny ośrodka archeologii doświadczalnej Grodzisko Żmijowiska[in:] Archeologia doświadczalna w Grodzisku Żmijowiska. Eksperymenty 2008-2012 (P. Lis (ed.)), Kazimierz Dolny, pp. 9-14
  • Lis P., Kacprzak A., Grodzisko Żmijowiska - muzeum w krajobrazie [in:] Skanseny archeologiczne i archeologia eksperymentalna (J. Gancarski (ed.)), Krosno 2012, pp. 221-240.
  • Lis P., Kulawczuk M., Wczesnośredniowieczny topór z grodziska w Żmijowiskach, pow. opolski, Archeologia Polski Środkowowschodniej, 2007, vol. IX, pp. 305-308

transport time to the next site

4 min

3 min

grodzisko
Kłodnica

15 minuts

transport time to the next site

6 min

3 min

kościół parafialny pw. Matki Boskiej Królowej Polski
Zagłoba

30 minutes

transport time to the next site

33 min

13 min

grodzisko
Podgórz

one hour

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