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Kostoľany pod Tribečom

St George’s Church in Kostoľany pod Tribečom forms an important representative of Central European pre-Romanesque art. The wall paintings in the interior belong not only to the eldest and best preserved in the Slovak Republic, but in the whole of Central Europe.

  • Before AD 850

Before AD 850

Landscape

St George’s Church is situated in the Kostoľany Basin, within the geomorphological unit of Tribeč which has an upland to medium mountain range surface configuration. Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3 It is surrounded by hills on three sides, dominated by Veľký Lysec (547 m.a.s.l.) and Ploská (577 m.a.s.l.). The Tribeč mountain range is a part of the band of Slovak core mountains, that is comprised of a stone core of igneous and metamorphic rocks surrounded by layers of sedimentary rocks that were covered with heavy rock plates during the Mesozoic and Tertiary Eras. The oldest rocks are granitoids, while the calcites, dolomites, slates and quartzites developed in the later part of the Mesozoic Era. In the Tertiary Era, a bay from a warm sea stretched into the Kostoľany Basin. The remnants of this sea can be seen in the loose and soft sedimentary rocks interspersed within the thin layers of brown coal. In the Quaternary period erosion produced sharp crests, tors, rock shelters, cliffs and stone runs. 1

Fig. 1: Northern part of the Kostoľany Basin. Veľký Tribeč in the background. Credit: Jan Gloc

Fig. 1: Northern part of the Kostoľany Basin. Veľký Tribeč in the background. Credit: Jan Gloc

Fig. 2: View of the Kostoľany Basin from the peak of Veľký Lysec. Credit: Jaroslav Košťál

Fig. 2: View of the Kostoľany Basin from the peak of Veľký Lysec. Credit: Jaroslav Košťál

Fig. 3: Southern part of the Kostoľany Basin. Veľký and Malý Lysec in the background. Credit: Jan Gloc

Fig. 3: Southern part of the Kostoľany Basin. Veľký and Malý Lysec in the background. Credit: Jan Gloc

The main water resource, the Drevenica stream, springs from the southern slope of Veľký Tribeč at 545 metres above sea level. During the Quaternary period, gravel and sand sediments piled up in its valley, slowed the stream and formed round meanders. Most of the springs in the wider vicinity of Kostoľany pod Tribečom are contingent on rainfall. During hot and dry summers some of them become completely seasonal. The exceptions are springs and wells made up of water from the permeable layers of Karst and Karst-fissures. 2

Due to the geological character of the basin, small plains with arable soil can only be found in the Drevenica valley. The greatest of which, though discontinuous, is covered by a group brown earths. 3

In the past, limestone and quartzite were the most important minerals, as they served as raw material for the production of lime and probably of glass. Fig. 4point 3 Traces from the mining of metamorphic limestone (marbles) are to be found southeast of Gýmeš castle on spots where high quality raw material for lime production was extracted as well. Up to the present day, four smaller quarries, slag heaps and other marks of human activity have been found, connected with Kostoľany pod Tribečom by a sunken lane. Quarries, where limestone was broken by hand, are to be found in the wider vicinity of St George’s Church. The earliest stone used here in construction was quartzite from the vast rock runs on the slopes of the surrounding peaks. To a greater extent they were used for the construction of the prehistoric fortified settlement on Veľký Lysec and castle in Gýmeš. Gravestones made from quartzite rock blocks are also to be found on the hill at St George’s Church. A widespread resource for building was brick earth. This soil was hand dug to make clay bricks, earthen floors and to grout the joints between the logs of farm buildings. Iron ochre and hematite, which were used in the past for the productions of dyes, have also been recorded. Remains of older mining activities, especially of iron ore, have been found in the saddle between Malý and Veľký Lysec. 4

Fig. 4: Kostoľany pod Tribečom, Velčice – site plan of the hill fort settlement Veľký and Malý Lysec. 1 – earth filled wall with stone front face, interrupted by semi-tongs gate type, 2 – forward fortification (earthen wall with a ditch), 3 – so called water cisterns (remains of older mining activities), 4 – transverse earthen wall and ditch, 5 – transverse stone wall, 6 – hypothetic size of the hill fort settlement area and its hinterland. Credit: geodetic survey by Martin Borza, map by EUROSENSE s.r.o.

Fig. 4: Kostoľany pod Tribečom, Velčice – site plan of the hill fort settlement Veľký and Malý Lysec. 1 – earth filled wall with stone front face, interrupted by semi-tongs gate type, 2 – forward fortification (earthen wall with a ditch), 3 – so called water cisterns (remains of older mining activities), 4 – transverse earthen wall and ditch, 5 – transverse stone wall, 6 – hypothetic size of the hill fort settlement area and its hinterland. Credit: geodetic survey by Martin Borza, map by EUROSENSE s.r.o.

The whole mountain mass of Tribeč, which is still being forested today, offered sufficient supplies of wood and game. 5

Settlement

The first witnesses of the presence of man on the territory of Kostoľany pod Tribečom stem from the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods. 6 Fig. 5 Fig. 6

Fig. 5: Kostoľany Basin. Prehistoric and early mediaeval archaeological finds in the cadastre of Kostoľany pod Tribečom: 1 – Veľký Lysec – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt, Roman Empire, Migration Period; 2 – Malý Lysec – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt; 3 – St George Church – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt, Early Middle Ages; 4 – Nad cestou – Neolithic, Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 5 – Bilkeš – Prehistory, Neolithic/Eneolithic, La Tène, Early Middle Ages; 6 – Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive no. 17 – Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 7 – Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive nos. 126 and 127 – Prehistory, Neolithic (?), Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 8 Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive no. 118 – Prehistory, Eneolithic; 9 – Breziny I – Prehistory, Eneolithic, La Tène; 10 – Breziny II – Prehistory, Eneolithic; 11 – Breziny III – Prehistory, Eneolithic. Credit: Eva Stuchlíková

Fig. 5: Kostoľany Basin. Prehistoric and early mediaeval archaeological finds in the cadastre of Kostoľany pod Tribečom: 1 – Veľký Lysec – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt, Roman Empire, Migration Period; 2 – Malý Lysec – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt; 3 – St George Church – Eneolithic, Late Bronze Age / Hallstatt, Early Middle Ages; 4 – Nad cestou – Neolithic, Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 5 – Bilkeš – Prehistory, Neolithic/Eneolithic, La Tène, Early Middle Ages; 6 – Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive no. 17 – Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 7 – Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive nos. 126 and 127 – Prehistory, Neolithic (?), Eneolithic, Early Middle Ages; 8 Kostoľany pod Tribečom, descriptive no. 118 – Prehistory, Eneolithic; 9 – Breziny I – Prehistory, Eneolithic, La Tène; 10 – Breziny II – Prehistory, Eneolithic; 11 – Breziny III – Prehistory, Eneolithic. Credit: Eva Stuchlíková

Fig. 6: Kostoľany pod Tribečom, cadastral sections Bilkeš and Nad cestou: lithic flakes, blades and raw material for the production of stone tools from the Eneolithic era. Credit: Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra,  photo by Noémi Pažinová

Fig. 6: Kostoľany pod Tribečom, cadastral sections Bilkeš and Nad cestou: lithic flakes, blades and raw material for the production of stone tools from the Eneolithic era. Credit: Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, photo by Noémi Pažinová

In the Early Iron Age, members of the Lusatian culture erected a fortified settlement on the mountains of Veľký and Malý Lysec within the mountains of Tribeč. Fig. 4 Traces of a system of ramparts and a moat, stonewalls as well as the remains of a gate are still visible in the terrain. 7 At the site of Malý Lysec, there was situated the bailey of the settlement with archaeologically documented domestic structures. 8 Traces of the settlement by the Lusatian culture are to be found in this region in lower altitudes of the Kostoľany Basin as well. 9 Only a few pottery fragments came to us from the Late Iron Age; these can be attributed to the Celtic La Tène culture.

During the Late Roman Empire, Slovakia was settled by Germanic tribes. In the Kostoľany Basin and its vicinity, we have only fragmentary findings from this period. The same can be said of the following Migration Period. 10

During the Early Middle Ages, a new ethnicity appears in Europe – the Slavs. In the southern part of the Kostoľany Basin, in the territory of the municipality of Ladice, we made a chance find: an inhumation cemetery used in the 9th and beginning of the 10th century. 11

References

1 Jahn, Ján, Kečkéšová, Zuzana and Košťál, Jaroslav, ‘Príroda Kostolianskej doliny’, in Baxa, Peter (ed.), Kostoľany pod Tribečom. Monografia dejín obce, Kostoľany pod Tribečom 2012, pp. 9-11

2 Ibid, pp. 11–13

3 Ibid, p. 13

4 Ibid, pp. 13–15;
Látková, Michaela, Výskumná správa Archeobotanická – predbežná správa z preplavovania sedimentov, analýzy makrozvyškov a analýza mazaníc, Halič 2012

5 Jahn, Ján, Kečkéšová, Zuzana and Košťál, Jaroslav, ‘Príroda Kostolianskej doliny’, in Baxa, Peter (ed.), Kostoľany pod Tribečom. Monografia dejín obce, Kostoľany pod Tribečom, 2012, p. 18

6 Borzová, Zuzana and Pažinová, Noémi, ‘Osídlenie Kostolianskej doliny’, in Monumentorum Tutela 21, 2009, pp. 35–36

7 Mitáš, Vladimír and Stegmann-Rajtár, Susanne, ‘Nové nálezy z prieskumov opevneného hradiska Veľký Lysec’, in Archeologické výskumy a nálezy na Slovensku v roku 2005, Nitra, 2007, pp. 146–148

8 Bisták, Peter, Borzová, Zuzana and Chmelo, Ladislav, ‘Archeologický výskum Malého Lysca’. Nálezová správa 2013 (find report)

9 Bisták, Peter and Borzová, Zuzana, ‘Kostoľany pod Tribečom v praveku a včasnom stredoveku’, in Baxa, Peter (ed.), Kostoľany pod Tribečom. Monografia dejín obce, Kostoľany pod Tribečom, 2012, pp. 25–36;
Romsauer, Peter, ‘Záchranný výskum na halštatskom žiarovom pohrebisku vo Velčiciach’, in Archeologické výskumy a nálezy na Slovensku v roku 1974, Nitra, 1975, pp. 93–94; Borzová, Zuzana et al., Ladice v premenách času, Ladice, 2013, pp. 21 – 30

10 Ibid. Ref. 1, p. 38

11 Vendtová, Viera, ‘Slovanské pohrebisko v Ladiciach, okr. Nitra’, in Archeologické Rozhledy, no. 14, 1962, p. 402

Continue to: AD 850 – 1050

Landscape Settlement

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