Kalniškė (Gargždai) Hill Fort

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Vėžaičiai, Klaipėda district
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Some 700 metres east of Gargždai on the other side of the Minija Valley in the current territory of Kalniškė village is a large Curonian hill fort that was previously known as Garisda. The castle that stood here is mentioned in an act on division of the Curonian lands dating from 1253. This is when the history of Gargždai begins.

From second half of the 19th century until the start of the 20th century the hill fort belonged to the folwark of Anelė Milžinskienė (hence, Anielinas folwark), and therefore in some sources it’s also referred to by this name. However, its official name is the Kalniškė Hill Fort that’s also sometimes known as Gargždai, or simply Pilalė. People call the field around the hill fort Raganinė, and say that there used to be an alkvietė (place of sacrifice in ancient Lithuania) there.

The hill fort is protected by three ditches and three mounds and has steep slopes rising to about 20 metres in height. The hill fort’s spacious platform is a trapezoidal oblong along an east-west axis.

At the beginning of the 20th century the hill fort was visited and described by the Polish historian Liudvikas Kšivickis (Ludwik Krzywicki). In 1963, the Lithuanian Institute of History conducted exploratory archaeological research at the hill fort. The hill fort was explored during slope fortification works between 1992 and 2000. These finds suggest that the hill fort was inhabited before our era. The oldest finds date from the Bronze Age, and some Roman coins have also been found at the site. The settlement at the base of the hill fort is on the southwestern side and was researched in 1998. Fragments of pottery, a sandstone spindle, stone graters and a copper necklace were found in a cultural layer up to 95cm thick that dates back from the second half of the 1st millennium to the beginning of the 2nd century.

When walking to the Kalniškė Hill Fort it’s possible to see the grave of an officer from Tsarist Russia which is now completely overgrown with weeds. Supposedly, his soul is now hiding in caves dug out by badgers and foxes.

The hill fort is being intensively repaired. There are tracks, an observation platform, a fireplace, car park and information stands. The eroding defensive mounds and slopes are fortified. The object, that seems to be living a second life, is particularly popular among members of the local community. Educational and reconstruction events as well as traditional Baltic celebrations often take place here. Public holidays are also celebrated, during which an impressive flag is raised and the entire hill fort is lit.

Kalniškė (Gargždai) Hill Fort

Vėžaičiai, Klaipėda district

Some 700 metres east of Gargždai on the other side of the Minija Valley in the current territory of Kalniškė village is a large Curonian hill fort that was previously known as Garisda. The castle that stood here is mentioned in an act on division of the Curonian lands dating from 1253. This is when the history of Gargždai begins.

From second half of the 19th century until the start of the 20th century the hill fort belonged to the folwark of Anelė Milžinskienė (hence, Anielinas folwark), and therefore in some sources it’s also referred to by this name. However, its official name is the Kalniškė Hill Fort that’s also sometimes known as Gargždai, or simply Pilalė. People call the field around the hill fort Raganinė, and say that there used to be an alkvietė (place of sacrifice in ancient Lithuania) there.

The hill fort is protected by three ditches and three mounds and has steep slopes rising to about 20 metres in height. The hill fort’s spacious platform is a trapezoidal oblong along an east-west axis.

At the beginning of the 20th century the hill fort was visited and described by the Polish historian Liudvikas Kšivickis (Ludwik Krzywicki). In 1963, the Lithuanian Institute of History conducted exploratory archaeological research at the hill fort. The hill fort was explored during slope fortification works between 1992 and 2000. These finds suggest that the hill fort was inhabited before our era. The oldest finds date from the Bronze Age, and some Roman coins have also been found at the site. The settlement at the base of the hill fort is on the southwestern side and was researched in 1998. Fragments of pottery, a sandstone spindle, stone graters and a copper necklace were found in a cultural layer up to 95cm thick that dates back from the second half of the 1st millennium to the beginning of the 2nd century.

When walking to the Kalniškė Hill Fort it’s possible to see the grave of an officer from Tsarist Russia which is now completely overgrown with weeds. Supposedly, his soul is now hiding in caves dug out by badgers and foxes.

The hill fort is being intensively repaired. There are tracks, an observation platform, a fireplace, car park and information stands. The eroding defensive mounds and slopes are fortified. The object, that seems to be living a second life, is particularly popular among members of the local community. Educational and reconstruction events as well as traditional Baltic celebrations often take place here. Public holidays are also celebrated, during which an impressive flag is raised and the entire hill fort is lit.

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