Gnezdovo or Gnyozdovo contains extensive remains of a Slavic-Varangian settlement that flourished in the 10th century as a major trade station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The settlement declined in the early years of the 11th century, simultaneously with other Varangian trade stations in Eastern Europe. By the end of the century, Gnyozdovo's importance as a trade centre had been completely supplanted by nearby Smolensk.

The archaeological site comprises a 'citadel', formerly situated at the confluence of the Rivers Dnieper and Svinets, and a ring of ancient rural settlements which occupy an area of 17.5 hectares. This makes the site one of the largest survivals of the Viking Age in Europe. There are about 3,000 burial mounds arranged in eight clusters of kurgans. Of these, about 1,300 mounds have been explored by Russian and Soviet archaeologists, starting in 1874.

Seven hoards of Byzantine and Arabian coins and a Byzantine dish bearing an image of Simargl have shown that the local community carried on a prosperous trade along the Dnieper. The metal objects represented include hauberks (not typical for Scandinavian sites), helmets, battle-axes, Carolingian swords, and arrows. Among the more surprising discoveries were an early folding razor with a copper handle and a pivoted scissors, probably the earliest found in Eastern Europe.

The most unexpected discovery at Gnyozdovo was a Kerch amphora with the earliest inscription attested in the Old Russian language. The excavator has inferred that the word горушна (gorušna), inscribed on the pot in Cyrillic letters, designates mustard that was kept there. This explanation has not been universally accepted and the inscription seems to be open to different interpretations. The dating of the inscription to the mid-10th century suggests a hitherto unsuspected popularity of the Cyrillic script in pre-Christian Rus.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Address

A141, Gnyozdovo, Russia
See all sites in Gnyozdovo

Details

Founded: 10th century
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Russia

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger Cathedral is Norway's oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. Stavanger was ravaged by fire in 1272, and the Cathedral suffered heavy damage. It was rebuilt under bishop Arne, and the Romanesque Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic style.

In 1682, king Christian V decided to move Stavanger's episcopal seat to Kristiansand. However, on Stavanger's 800th anniversary in 1925, king Haakon VII instated Jacob Christian Petersen as Stavanger's first bishop in nearly 250 years.During a renovation in the 1860s, the Cathedral's exterior and interior was considerably altered. The stone walls were plastered, and the Cathedral lost much of its medieval looks. A major restoration led by Gerhard Fischer in 1939-1964 partly reversed those changes. The latest major restoration of the Cathedral was conducted in 1999. Andrew Lawrenceson Smith is famous for his works here.