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Hillforts of Toropets
September 9, 2014 22:07


Maloe (“Small”) Hillfort is considered (and named) “Vysokoe” (“High”) not only by Toropets standards - they say that it is the highest man-made hillfort in Europe. It was constructed by the first Toropets Prince Mstislav Rostislavich, a brave son of the Smolensk Prince Rostislav.

In XII century a wooden Kremlin stood on the shafts, and a church was located within its walls, where Aleksandr Nevsky got married to the Polotsk Princess Aleksandra. Thanks to this wedding Toropets got his main shrine, the Toropetsk icon, and as a result, the city’s main cathedral of Korsun was built for that icon – it is located just next to the church.

The shafts of Maloe Hillfort are really steep; it certainly was not easy for enemies to climb them. Today goats graze on the shafts: there is nothing but grass inside the ring. The definition of “Maloe” (“Small”) seems extremely accurate from the modern point of view: it is difficult to understand how the entire settlement fit inside the fortifications. A memorial stone stands around the mound next to the highway: it is the basis of the future monument to Aleksandr Nevsky. A views of the entire city open from the hill.

Maloe Hillfort is not really explored yet, but the excavations are already underway, and their results are interesting: the findings include arrowheads, jewelry, household items. This fortification is not the only one of the ancient Toropetsk fortifications, but it is the most noticeable one.

Bolshoe (“Big”) Hillfort is lower and wider, it stretches along the shore of the Slolomennoe Lake. It also has a bright history: it is believed that the capital of the Slavic Kriviches was located there - Krivitesk or Krivich, a precursor city of Toropets. By the way, the legendary Kriviches are revered in Toropets, and the central hotel and its restaurant are called “Krivitesk”. There is one more settlement – Novoye (“New”) Hillfort. We can say it s still alive, because a part of the modern Toropets “on the island” stands on its place. It is the historical city centre called “Krasny Val” (“Red Shaft”) - the territory of the former Kremlin built in the XVI century after the liberation of Toropets from Lithuanians. Nothing left from the buildings of the Kremlin but the shafts. Novoe Hillfort is well studied, and you can have a look at its wooden model in the Toropetsk Museum of Local History.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Toropets     

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