Šarnelė Hill Fort with settlement

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Žemaičių kalvarija, Plungė district
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Near Šarnelė village, known for its individual homesteads, you’ll find a hill fort of the same name that’s also referred to as Švedkalnis. It’s believed that Šarnelė Castle, which once stood on the mound, and Gardai Castle (the hill fort of Samogitian Calvary) probably belonged to the same Curonian castle district of the Ceklis land.

The object, which dates from between the 1st millennium and 13th century, is located on a hill on the south-eastern side of the hill chain near a former wide swamp. From the southern, eastern and western sides, the hill fort is surrounded by wet meadows. Its slopes are steep, at from between 13 and 15 metres in height. The platform is trapezoidal, oblong along a north-south axis, 50 metres long, 30 metres wide at the northern end and 37 metres wide at the southern end. Smooth pieces of pottery have been found at the platform. A 30 metre long, 4.5 metre high and 35 m wide mound was established at its northern edge. Its outer 11 metre high slope descends into a 35 metre wide, 5 metre deep ditch with a 12 metre wide bottom. The hill fort has been slightly damaged by ploughing and a pit has been excavated in the middle of the platform. The slopes are overgrown with broad-leaved trees and the platform is uncultivated. On the northern slope, there are stairs that lead to the mound.

In 1964, the Lithuanian Institute of History conducted exploratory archaeological research at the hill fort. In 2006, whilst reconstructing a road, new discoveries were added to the collections assembled during earlier expeditions. Exploration of a discovered cultural layer from the ancient settlement of Šarnelė II uncovered fireplaces, pottery, iron cinders and other residues of production and households. Based on discovered rocks and thrown pottery, the settlement dates back to the second half of the 1st millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium. Very close by there are traces of an alkvietė (a place of sacrifice in ancient Lithuania).

Šarnelė village itself was first mentioned in 1575. Between 1651 and 1842 there was a manor belonging to members of the Dominican Order here. Vytautas Mačernis, a poet of tragic fate who described the places from his childhood in his poems, was born in the village and was later buried nearby. Today these places are marked by the Akmeninės vizijos (Stone Visions) (stone plates with different writings).

The ethnographer Juozas Mickevičius has collected a number of legends about Švedkalnis. It’s said that there was a cave in a hill on the eastern side where pigs would hide for several days at a time and where they’d be allowed to walk around. When they left, they sometimes had old pieces of clothing on their snouts. Dogs and cats, as well as humans, would avoid this cave. Another story tells of a hole that used to be at the top of the hill fort and that was the entrance to the dungeon. People would attach a stone to some kind of leash and insert it into the hole. The stone would touch either another stone or some cement inside the hole and would thus make sounds for a long time.

Šarnelė Hill Fort with settlement

Žemaičių kalvarija, Plungė district

Near Šarnelė village, known for its individual homesteads, you’ll find a hill fort of the same name that’s also referred to as Švedkalnis. It’s believed that Šarnelė Castle, which once stood on the mound, and Gardai Castle (the hill fort of Samogitian Calvary) probably belonged to the same Curonian castle district of the Ceklis land.

The object, which dates from between the 1st millennium and 13th century, is located on a hill on the south-eastern side of the hill chain near a former wide swamp. From the southern, eastern and western sides, the hill fort is surrounded by wet meadows. Its slopes are steep, at from between 13 and 15 metres in height. The platform is trapezoidal, oblong along a north-south axis, 50 metres long, 30 metres wide at the northern end and 37 metres wide at the southern end. Smooth pieces of pottery have been found at the platform. A 30 metre long, 4.5 metre high and 35 m wide mound was established at its northern edge. Its outer 11 metre high slope descends into a 35 metre wide, 5 metre deep ditch with a 12 metre wide bottom. The hill fort has been slightly damaged by ploughing and a pit has been excavated in the middle of the platform. The slopes are overgrown with broad-leaved trees and the platform is uncultivated. On the northern slope, there are stairs that lead to the mound.

In 1964, the Lithuanian Institute of History conducted exploratory archaeological research at the hill fort. In 2006, whilst reconstructing a road, new discoveries were added to the collections assembled during earlier expeditions. Exploration of a discovered cultural layer from the ancient settlement of Šarnelė II uncovered fireplaces, pottery, iron cinders and other residues of production and households. Based on discovered rocks and thrown pottery, the settlement dates back to the second half of the 1st millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium. Very close by there are traces of an alkvietė (a place of sacrifice in ancient Lithuania).

Šarnelė village itself was first mentioned in 1575. Between 1651 and 1842 there was a manor belonging to members of the Dominican Order here. Vytautas Mačernis, a poet of tragic fate who described the places from his childhood in his poems, was born in the village and was later buried nearby. Today these places are marked by the Akmeninės vizijos (Stone Visions) (stone plates with different writings).

The ethnographer Juozas Mickevičius has collected a number of legends about Švedkalnis. It’s said that there was a cave in a hill on the eastern side where pigs would hide for several days at a time and where they’d be allowed to walk around. When they left, they sometimes had old pieces of clothing on their snouts. Dogs and cats, as well as humans, would avoid this cave. Another story tells of a hole that used to be at the top of the hill fort and that was the entrance to the dungeon. People would attach a stone to some kind of leash and insert it into the hole. The stone would touch either another stone or some cement inside the hole and would thus make sounds for a long time.

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