ArcheoPark Netolice Naleziste Muzeum



The year 2000

The archaeological exploration of the Přemysl administrative castle of Netolice in 2000 focused on the probing of the west perimeter of the central part of the fortified settlement. One of the loosely reconstructed structures in the archaeological park that is being built will stand in this location – a guard tower with part of the fortifications in the form of wooden palisades with a stone screen. It will be located at the terrain’s edge of the Na Jánu hillock with an optimum view of the town of Netolice. Here the terrain rises the most above the surroundings, to a height of approximately 25–30 m. Two probes (excavations) were carried out at the terrain’s edge, S1/2000 having the dimensions of approximately 11x3 metres and S2/2000 with the dimensions of approximately 9x2.5 metres. The probes were placed so as to provide a representational picture of terrain relationships and to realistically depict the character of the layers, walls and other archaeological structures in the location of the architectural reconstruction of the palisades and guard tower.

Both probes revealed complicated stratigraphy. The archaeological situation in both excavations was very similar and it is clear that the resulting findings can be more or less generally applied for the entire explored part of the fortified settlement. Under a layer of recent humus was a group of strata of modern park modifications, which occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries. In certain locations these layers are relatively thick (in some places around 100 cm) and hard to differentiate from the lower intact deposits from the Middle Ages. The formerly intact deposits from the early Middle Ages were the material that was used for these modifications. The material in these relocated deposits consists of up to 95 % of all ceramic material. Under the modern or relocated deposits there is a section of a Middle Ages burial site. The probes uncovered the remains of at least 18 individuals, approximately half of which were adults and half children. The deceased were placed in rows. The burial pits were constructed in the field of ruins mainly via the removal of the larger rocks and the placement of them into a rectangular shape. The remains are fairly close together, which indicates that there was not enough room in this area of the fortified settlement.

Wholly exceptional is grave 11/00. Under a large gravestone lies the burial of a larger child that was decorated with 7 bronze S-shaped temple rings, which according to the level they were found come from the early period of the fortified settlement (10th – 12th century). The gravestone and the fact that a child was buried beneath it, and furnished with an opulent set of temple rings, testify to the special status of the buried child and it is obvious that the child belonged to the upper social class of Netolice Castle. The chronological placement of grave 11/00 can be interpreted as the lower limit of the chronological placement of the graves. Overall it can be concluded that the burials took place during the peak of the Middle Ages. Most likely the middle of the time interval of the burials can be stated with caution as the end of the early Middle Ages, i.e. during the 13th – 14th centuries. The end of the burials cannot be stated with certainty. It cannot be ruled out that this area was still utilized for burial purposes during the period before the tearing down of the Church of St. John in 1788.

The most important set of archaeological remains of historical structures was found in both probes at the deepest stratigraphical level. This was the identification of the early Middle Ages fortifications of Netolice Castle and the adjoining areas within the complex. In this manner the situation in probe S1 was stratigraphically and structurally more complex, where two phases of the fortification system were found. The oldest outer fortification wall was created from the dry placement of quarried stones. The flush mounted on both sides wall had a preserved width of 160 cm and was set onto the bedrock. The newer fortification wall was placed on paths and destroyed layers of an anthropic origin. Layer 1018 is associated with this phase, a plane of oak planks. This is some kind of pavement for walking inside the newer part of the fortification. The vertical orientation of these layers, including between fortification filling 1025, is evidence of the fact that these layers were deposited when the older fortifications were still fully functional.

A similar situation was revealed by probe S2. Only one fortification phase was found here, which completely matches the older fortification phase in probe S1. Two channels chiselled into the bedrock in the rear part of the fortification wall were studied.  The question remains what is the date of the fortification system that was found in both probes. In this phase of exploration a comprehensive analysis of the artefacts that were found has not been carried out and therefore the up to now conclusions must be considered as working and preliminary. The oldest layers according to pottery can be dated at approximately the 10th century. We can put the building of the fortification walls into this period.

The main archaeological materials from the exploration are pieces of ceramic vessels. Mostly fragments of cup shaped vessels and fragments of storage vessels were found. Metal and other small finds of all kinds are also an appreciable part of the artefacts from both probes. The most frequent finding among the equipment, adornment and clothing of the buried people was so-called temple rings, small bronze or copper ring adornments, always located around the temple and the occipital area of the deceased. Several worked and decorated bone objects are worth mentioning.

The collection of approximately 18 incomplete human skeletons brings with it interesting anthropological material. An important constituent of the exploration was the acquisition of a representational amount of domestic and hunted animal bones. The character of the natural surroundings can be depicted due to the relatively large collections of carbons, the remains of fuel wood and possibly even building wood, in which oak dominates along with the infrequent finding of English yew.

We can summarize the results of the exploration concerning the creation of and when the Netolice Castle was occupied into the following points:


1. The ceramic material from the oldest layers indicates that at the probed area the first settlement activities appeared only during the course of the 10th century. We are not saying that older layers will not be found; just that we can relatively reliably state that they are not located where we explored. The probe from 2000 confirms that this is a fortified settlement from the Přemysl family’s expansion to South Bohemia.


2. Right from the beginning of its existence, the castle had massive fortifications, the foundations of which were built from flat quarried stones. We have good evidence of more than one phase of fortification, which means that this section of the fortification was repaired and fortified at least once.


3. The thickest group of strata in the middle strata of both probes contains a rich amount of ceramic materials from the 12th and 13th centuries. This means that the period of greatest development was this period. Intensive settlement activity at the fortified settlement during this period is also substantiated with existing written documents.


4. Evidently during the existence of the fortified settlement, burials took place in the area we studied. Grave 11/00, dated from the turn of the 12th to the 13th century at the latest, could be evidence of the exceptional remains of a child from an upper social class family and indirectly indicate the timeframe of the origin of the St. John Church. After the end of the administrative function, and most likely the habitation, of the fortified settlement in the 2nd half of the 13th century, burial activity in this location continued. Remarkable is the fact that in the area where the important child’s grave lays the placement of mainly children’s graves continued.

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