Research of Early Medieval strongholds in Central Poland finished

Twelve strongholds dating back to the Early Medieval times located in Central Poland have been surveyed with use of non-invasive prospection techniques over the course of years. The results of the research have been rounded up in a recent publication.

Aerial view of the stronghold in Ewinów (by Wiesław Stępień)

The strongholds and their surrounding were surveyed with use of various geophysical methods, including magnetic measurements, electrical resistance, and ground penetrating radar, aided by airborne LiDAR scans, and aerial photography from drones and airplanes. The researchers also conducted field surveys looking for surface finds. According to Jerzy Sikora, the project’s director, this is one of the largest largest programmes of Medieval times archaeology in Poland. It focuses on a vast region of the country and it’s role in the Early Piast dynasty Poland. These twelve strongholds were located in the following towns, and villages and in their vicinity: Ewinów, Chełmo, Krzepocinek, Mnichów, Okopy, Rękoraj, Rozprza, Spycimierz, Stare Skoszewy, Szydłów, Witów, Żarnów.

These strongholds were constructed since the end of the 8th century, first by local tribal communities, and later around half of the 10th century by the Piast dynasty’s Kingdom. Sikora states, that the results of the research allowed for  enhancement and supplementation of knowledge about the sites. In all cases new information about the sites was obtained. For example, in Chełmo and Rękoraj new fortifications were revealed, located within the strongholds themselves. It was also revealed that all of the strongholds were accompanied by unfortified settlements that formed the economic facilities of the sites. Some of them were previously known, but others (in Krzepocinek, or Szydłów) were discovered on course of the project. The researchers also revealed that some of the strongholds were larger than previously thought. In some cases, such as in Witów, the outer fortifications were almost invisible on the surface, as the fortification walls were levelled by ploughing of surrounding fields. In other cases, such as Chełmo, Krzepocinek, Mnichów or Rozprza, the LiDAR data allowed for detection of previously unknown structures, such as fortification walls, and old roads and causeways. The geophysical measurements were also helpful in determining whether the inner space of the strongholds contained buildings or not.

The cover of the publication (by Jerzy Sikora)

The authors gathered the results of their work conducted between 2013-2016 in a publication called “Grodziska wczesnośredniowieczne Polski Centralnej” (Strongholds of Early Medieval Central Poland). The researchers state that although the project did not change the vision of Early Medieval Poland, it led to numerous new discoveries on all of the studied sites, that allowed capturing a wider context of the site’s function and activities conducted there.

The Project’s site is available here: Grody wczesnośredniowieczne w Polsce centralnej

(after Nauka w Polsce & Wiesław Stępień)

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