Gandinga Hill Fort with outer bailey and settlement

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Mardosai, Plungė district
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The tiny settlement of Gandinga on the right bank of the Minija river near the road connecting Plungė with Vėžaičiai was once an extremely important cultural, administrative and defence unit belonging to the historical land of Ceklis (Keklis). Part of a network of the oldest settlements in Lithuania, Gandinga was mentioned for the first time in 1253 in the documents relating to the distribution of the Curonian lands.

This area is extremely rich in hill forts, with a total of five on a relatively small territory. Archaeologists have discovered traces of a settlement and manor house here that date back to the end of the 1st millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium. After the Swedes attacked the land in the second half of the 16th century, Gandinga began to disappear, with its functions taken over by neighbouring Plungė.

The Gandinga Hill Fort, also known as the Pilis (Castle) Hill, is located in the Babrungas Valley along a tributary of the Minija river. Part of a former residential and defence complex from the period between the 1st and 13th century, the complex also includes the Varkaliai Hill Fort and settlement, the Nausodis Hill Fort and settlement, the Nausodis Hill Fort II and the Gandinga ancient settlement and burial ground.

The slopes of Pilis Hill, on which the Curonian Gandinga Castle is said to have stood in 1253, are steep and rise to a height of 32 metres. The hill has been slightly damaged by ploughing. The uncultivated platform of the hill fort is oval, oblong and 78 × 33 metres in size. To the west of the hill fort is a trapezoidal outer bailey with a platform measuring 38 × 110 metres. Further from the outer bailey are the remains of an ancient settlement, close to which is an old cemetery dating from between the 5th and 13th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the hill fort was visited by Liudvikas Kšivickis (Ludwik Krzywicki), a Polish man who explored more than 200 Lithuanian hill forts throughout his life. He recorded at least three stages of the heightening of the mound, during each of which a significant amount of charcoal was found. Kšivickis (Krzywicki) also wrote about the Gandinga Hill Fort, where there were traces of the past centuries, in his book Žemaičių senovė (Ancient Times of Samogitia), which was published in Warsaw.

Up to 20 legends have been gathered about the Gandinga Hill Fort. For example, one says that there are large dungeons in the hill fort in which the Swedes who once conquered the land hid large treasures and told the devils to protect them. At night, the guardian of the treasures who’d appear in a form of a magnificent young man, would visit the horse boys or shepherds to get a light for his pipe. It’s also mentioned in written sources that an ancient Baltic temple was in the vicinity of Gandinga, where the holy fire once burned.

Gandinga Hill Fort with outer bailey and settlement

Mardosai, Plungė district

The tiny settlement of Gandinga on the right bank of the Minija river near the road connecting Plungė with Vėžaičiai was once an extremely important cultural, administrative and defence unit belonging to the historical land of Ceklis (Keklis). Part of a network of the oldest settlements in Lithuania, Gandinga was mentioned for the first time in 1253 in the documents relating to the distribution of the Curonian lands.

This area is extremely rich in hill forts, with a total of five on a relatively small territory. Archaeologists have discovered traces of a settlement and manor house here that date back to the end of the 1st millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium. After the Swedes attacked the land in the second half of the 16th century, Gandinga began to disappear, with its functions taken over by neighbouring Plungė.

The Gandinga Hill Fort, also known as the Pilis (Castle) Hill, is located in the Babrungas Valley along a tributary of the Minija river. Part of a former residential and defence complex from the period between the 1st and 13th century, the complex also includes the Varkaliai Hill Fort and settlement, the Nausodis Hill Fort and settlement, the Nausodis Hill Fort II and the Gandinga ancient settlement and burial ground.

The slopes of Pilis Hill, on which the Curonian Gandinga Castle is said to have stood in 1253, are steep and rise to a height of 32 metres. The hill has been slightly damaged by ploughing. The uncultivated platform of the hill fort is oval, oblong and 78 × 33 metres in size. To the west of the hill fort is a trapezoidal outer bailey with a platform measuring 38 × 110 metres. Further from the outer bailey are the remains of an ancient settlement, close to which is an old cemetery dating from between the 5th and 13th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the hill fort was visited by Liudvikas Kšivickis (Ludwik Krzywicki), a Polish man who explored more than 200 Lithuanian hill forts throughout his life. He recorded at least three stages of the heightening of the mound, during each of which a significant amount of charcoal was found. Kšivickis (Krzywicki) also wrote about the Gandinga Hill Fort, where there were traces of the past centuries, in his book Žemaičių senovė (Ancient Times of Samogitia), which was published in Warsaw.

Up to 20 legends have been gathered about the Gandinga Hill Fort. For example, one says that there are large dungeons in the hill fort in which the Swedes who once conquered the land hid large treasures and told the devils to protect them. At night, the guardian of the treasures who’d appear in a form of a magnificent young man, would visit the horse boys or shepherds to get a light for his pipe. It’s also mentioned in written sources that an ancient Baltic temple was in the vicinity of Gandinga, where the holy fire once burned.

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