Gegrėnai Hill Fort

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Gegrėnai, Plungė district
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In the Žemaitija (Samogitia) National park, 6km from Žemaičių Kalvarija (Samogitian Calvary) and 14km from the park’s Information Centre in Plateliai, you’ll find the 1.6km-long Gegrėnai Hill Fort path that goes through the archaeological complex. You’ll visit two hill forts dating from between the 1st millennium and 13th century. On these hill forts once stood one of the most important castles in the Ceklis land, the biggest land in Southern Courland, namely Gegrė (Zegere) Castle.

Gegrė was the main castle of the castle district. Three Pučkoriai hill forts and those surrounding them all belonged to Gegrėnai castle district. The group of hill forts that still survive to this day allow one to calculate that there were 10 or 11 castle districts in the Ceklis land.

The hill forts are on both sides of a stream. The first hill fort, which is also the smaller and the older one, is on a hill on the left bank. Approximately 150 metres northwest of the hill fort is a burial ground dating back to the beginning of the 2nd millennium.

The platform of the first hill fort is quadrangular, oblong, on an east-west axis and 48 × 27 metres in size. In order to protect the castle from its enemies, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, two mounds and a ditch were created on its western side.

The first mound is 0.2 metres high and 4 metres wide with a 3 metre-wide ditch excavated behind it. A second mound, 5 metres wide, is located behind this ditch. It has a 0.8 metre high outer slope. On the northern slope it turns into a 3.5-metre-wide terrace. The slopes are of medium steepness and steep in the south, rising from 8 to 10 metres high. The hill fort has been slightly damaged by ploughing, and is overgrown with broad-leaved trees which have been partially cut down with new sprouting branches. The northern side of the hill fort has been eroded by fox holes and caves.

Investigations undertaken at the Gegrėnai archaeological complex were of an exploratory nature, although there are a lot of legends about these hill forts. One Samogitian story has it that a long time ago a church stood on the hill fort, but it drowned during a flood: …they will say that there used to be a church on the hill, say people in their Žemaičių (Samogitian) dialect. The church’s bell tower, a hospital and a chapel were once located at the base of the southern hill fort. Others say that a thick stream used to be seen coming from the hill. People would argue that a lot of salt had been left in the mountain by people who lived there a long time ago. During the period of serfdom, an old woman would often bring salt home from the hill, although she never showed anyone where she got it from.

Gegrėnai Hill Fort

Gegrėnai, Plungė district

In the Žemaitija (Samogitia) National park, 6km from Žemaičių Kalvarija (Samogitian Calvary) and 14km from the park’s Information Centre in Plateliai, you’ll find the 1.6km-long Gegrėnai Hill Fort path that goes through the archaeological complex. You’ll visit two hill forts dating from between the 1st millennium and 13th century. On these hill forts once stood one of the most important castles in the Ceklis land, the biggest land in Southern Courland, namely Gegrė (Zegere) Castle.

Gegrė was the main castle of the castle district. Three Pučkoriai hill forts and those surrounding them all belonged to Gegrėnai castle district. The group of hill forts that still survive to this day allow one to calculate that there were 10 or 11 castle districts in the Ceklis land.

The hill forts are on both sides of a stream. The first hill fort, which is also the smaller and the older one, is on a hill on the left bank. Approximately 150 metres northwest of the hill fort is a burial ground dating back to the beginning of the 2nd millennium.

The platform of the first hill fort is quadrangular, oblong, on an east-west axis and 48 × 27 metres in size. In order to protect the castle from its enemies, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, two mounds and a ditch were created on its western side.

The first mound is 0.2 metres high and 4 metres wide with a 3 metre-wide ditch excavated behind it. A second mound, 5 metres wide, is located behind this ditch. It has a 0.8 metre high outer slope. On the northern slope it turns into a 3.5-metre-wide terrace. The slopes are of medium steepness and steep in the south, rising from 8 to 10 metres high. The hill fort has been slightly damaged by ploughing, and is overgrown with broad-leaved trees which have been partially cut down with new sprouting branches. The northern side of the hill fort has been eroded by fox holes and caves.

Investigations undertaken at the Gegrėnai archaeological complex were of an exploratory nature, although there are a lot of legends about these hill forts. One Samogitian story has it that a long time ago a church stood on the hill fort, but it drowned during a flood: …they will say that there used to be a church on the hill, say people in their Žemaičių (Samogitian) dialect. The church’s bell tower, a hospital and a chapel were once located at the base of the southern hill fort. Others say that a thick stream used to be seen coming from the hill. People would argue that a lot of salt had been left in the mountain by people who lived there a long time ago. During the period of serfdom, an old woman would often bring salt home from the hill, although she never showed anyone where she got it from.

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