Skomantai Hill Fort

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Veiviržėnai, Klaipėda district
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On the right bank of the Veiviržas river in the western part of Skomantai village you can visit the Skomantai Hill Fort, one of the country’s most impressive ancient defensive objects and a symbol of the early state of Lithuania. In various sources it’s also referred to as Ragokalnis, Papilys and Raguva Hill.

The hill fort, that dates back to the period from the 1st millennium to the 13th century, is located in the cape of a hill chain, which is part of the large Veiviržas valley. Surrounded by a river to the north, east and south, its slopes are steep, it’s from between 20 and 22 metres in heights and at the top of the hill is a large, oval trapezium-shaped platform.

On the western side, the hill fort was protected by strong fortifications in the form of two ditches and two mounds. In the east, where the slope of the hill isn’t so steep, is a long mound with a ditch dug below it. The castle tower might have been located at the point behind the ditch. Here you’ll also find a track that may have led to a secret entrance.

The Duke of the Suduvians, Jotvingian commander and pagan priest Skomantas, who was probably the ruler of the castle, is known from the chronicle by Petras Dusburgietis (Peter of Dusburg) and the Ipatian Chronicle. In it is described his struggle with the German Crusaders at the end of the 13th century and his subsequent baptism. At the start of the attacks from the Order, the hill fort was fortified with high mounds in the middle of the defensive ring surrounded by smaller mounds.

During earlier research, to the west of the mound pieces of rough pottery and thrown pottery were found. This, as well as a significant amount of old graves, shows that there was a settlement near the hill fort in the form of an outer bailey.

In 1928, at the highest place of the hill, a cement monument, created by Kostas Rameika, was built to mark the fifth anniversary of Lithuania Minor’s incorporation into Lithuania and a decade of Lithuanian independence. The monument was built on the initiative of the farmer P. Kučinskas. The border of both Klaipėda region and of Lithuania were in the vicinity of the hill fort. In 1969, a wooden sculpture Žemaitis (The Samogitian) by the folk artist Vytautas Majoras, which symbolically protects these lands from enemies, arose at the base of the hill fort.

Ethnographers have collected over 20 stories about this hill fort. For example, it’s alleged that its inhabitants skilfully defended themselves against the crusaders’ attacks. Today, people can feel the special energy coming from the hill fort and the surrounding oak trees. The local residents say that several decades ago dance parties for young people took place here, as well as other celebrations. In recent years it’s become a meeting place for scouts.

Skomantai Hill Fort

Veiviržėnai, Klaipėda district

On the right bank of the Veiviržas river in the western part of Skomantai village you can visit the Skomantai Hill Fort, one of the country’s most impressive ancient defensive objects and a symbol of the early state of Lithuania. In various sources it’s also referred to as Ragokalnis, Papilys and Raguva Hill.

The hill fort, that dates back to the period from the 1st millennium to the 13th century, is located in the cape of a hill chain, which is part of the large Veiviržas valley. Surrounded by a river to the north, east and south, its slopes are steep, it’s from between 20 and 22 metres in heights and at the top of the hill is a large, oval trapezium-shaped platform.

On the western side, the hill fort was protected by strong fortifications in the form of two ditches and two mounds. In the east, where the slope of the hill isn’t so steep, is a long mound with a ditch dug below it. The castle tower might have been located at the point behind the ditch. Here you’ll also find a track that may have led to a secret entrance.

The Duke of the Suduvians, Jotvingian commander and pagan priest Skomantas, who was probably the ruler of the castle, is known from the chronicle by Petras Dusburgietis (Peter of Dusburg) and the Ipatian Chronicle. In it is described his struggle with the German Crusaders at the end of the 13th century and his subsequent baptism. At the start of the attacks from the Order, the hill fort was fortified with high mounds in the middle of the defensive ring surrounded by smaller mounds.

During earlier research, to the west of the mound pieces of rough pottery and thrown pottery were found. This, as well as a significant amount of old graves, shows that there was a settlement near the hill fort in the form of an outer bailey.

In 1928, at the highest place of the hill, a cement monument, created by Kostas Rameika, was built to mark the fifth anniversary of Lithuania Minor’s incorporation into Lithuania and a decade of Lithuanian independence. The monument was built on the initiative of the farmer P. Kučinskas. The border of both Klaipėda region and of Lithuania were in the vicinity of the hill fort. In 1969, a wooden sculpture Žemaitis (The Samogitian) by the folk artist Vytautas Majoras, which symbolically protects these lands from enemies, arose at the base of the hill fort.

Ethnographers have collected over 20 stories about this hill fort. For example, it’s alleged that its inhabitants skilfully defended themselves against the crusaders’ attacks. Today, people can feel the special energy coming from the hill fort and the surrounding oak trees. The local residents say that several decades ago dance parties for young people took place here, as well as other celebrations. In recent years it’s become a meeting place for scouts.

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