6,000 year-old ritual and ceremonial roundels discovered in Kuyavia

6,000 year-old ritual and ceremonial roundels discovered in Kuyavia

The remains of two roundels, large ritual and ceremonial places from over 6,000 years ago, consisting of circular ditches and palisades, were discovered in Kaczków in Kuyavia. These are the first roundels identified in the area.

Archaeologists have long believed that roundels had been built in the area of Europe limited to present-day Hungary, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia and Germany. They were created between 4,850-4,600 BCE, in the Neolithic. The idea of building them appeared with the first farmers who came from the south of the continent.

Due to their concentric structure of ramparts and ditches, they are sometimes compared to Britain’s Stonehenge. However, that structure is about 2,000 years younger and consists also of huge boulders, while wood in the form of a palisade was used to built roundels.

Credit: J. Czerniec

The first roundel was discovered in Poland a quarter of a century ago. We now know about 20 of them. The discovery of two more in June this year, in a wheat field in Kaczków (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship), thanks to the use of a drone, was reported by archaeologist Jerzy Czerniec. The scientist studies the archaeological landscape. According to him, this year’s drought was helpful in the discovery. During it, the remains of old structures were more visible in the fields from a bird’s eye view.

The scientist reports that the newly located roundels are about 26 m in diameter and consist of two or three concentric ditches. They probably had oval palisades in the central part.

‘An interesting fact is their smaller size than the previously discovered roundels (the diameters of some of them reach about 100 m – PAP). Perhaps they were created a bit later by farmers who came from the Danube to our area in successive settlement waves,’ says Czerniec.

3D terrain model, interpretation of the spatial layout of the settlement in Kaczków with visible foundations of trapezoidal houses and roundel structures. Credit: J. Czerniec

The archaeologist has been studying the area where the roundels were found since 2021. So far, his attention has been focused on other structures from the same period, the so-called long houses. They were pillar structures with lengths reaching several dozen meters.

They were built on the plan of elongated trapezoids. According to Czerniec, thanks to remote sensing, surveying and soil research carried out in cooperation with specialists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, about 160 relics of such structures have been identified. They belonged to the community defined by archaeologists as the Brześć Kujawski group of Lengyel culture. This community lived several hundred years after the first farmers living in Poland, who erected large, 100-meter roundels.

Czerniec’s analyses show that numerous elongated houses were erected around the central point with two roundels. They were built on a lowered area that may have been swampy in the past.

‘They were certainly the heart of the settlement. It was probably a ritual and ceremonial area,’ the archaeologist says. The prevailing view among roundel researchers is that these sites had social, religious and ritual functions. Perhaps, therefore, they served as places of worship, and at the same time a forum for meetings of local communities. Czerniec also mentions that thy could also be astronomical observatories associated with the summer solstice, from which the sunrise was watched on the longest day of the year.

Czerniec says that this year he wants to conduct further geophysical research, which will allow him to obtain more detailed information on the construction of roundels. And on its basis, archaeologists want to plan excavations. Until now, only two roundels have been the target of extensive excavations – in Bodzów (Lubusz Voivodeship) and Nowe Objezierze (West Pomeranian Voivodeship). The closest roundel to those discovered in June in Kaczków is located several dozen kilometres to the west, in Wenecja near Biskupin, known for the settlement of the Lusatian community from about 2.7 thousand years ago, the famous life-size model of which has been open for tourists for decades. (PAP)

PAP – Science in Poland, Szymon Zdziebłowski

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