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Common board – common heritage

New look on Polish and Turkish castles on Dniester


The Rampart of the Virgin Mary Discovered

During the June expedition within the Project, our team tried to find traces of a small Polish fortress on the Dniester. The rampart protected supply and army convoys heading for the Ramparts of the Holy Trinity during wars against Turkey. However, we did not manage to find any remains of the fortifications. We decided to come back later when we would be better prepared for the search.

The remains of the fort were marked on a map of Galicia by F. von Mieg from the end of the 18th century. The fortifications were to be located by the road to the west of the village of “Grudek.” Thanks to a thorough analysis of available satellite images, we managed to find an outline resembling two bastions in this area. Before we went into the field, we still had doubts... Perhaps this was not the place... The outline visible in the images from the space would be the remains of the south and west bastions. The latter was not marked on the above-mentioned archival map. It was probably no longer visible on the surface.

Finally, we arrived at the place... It is much more difficult to discern the remains of ramparts and trenches among tall weeds than from the air or space, but there are indeed remains of a small embankment visible in the lie of the land – a platform separated from the east by a section of a trench. On this platform, there are a building which probably was a part of a farm from the beginning of the 20th century and other structures built later, in the Soviet period. A little farther in the direction of the Dniester, outside the potential fortifications, the first graves of a contemporary cemetery can be found. The soil from the fresh graves is clear. It does not contain any pottery shards or other evidence of earlier human activity... Nearby, a gravedigger is digging a new grave. We come over and start a conversation. We ask about this place and he replies that he is not a local but knows somebody who will probably know. He takes his mobile phone out of his pocket and makes a call. The unknown source on the other end of the line confirms our assumptions... In the local tradition, this place is known as “the Polish barrier”... We are here! The rampart has been discovered!

Certainly we will need to go there once more soon, take advantage of a moment when there are no crops in the nearby fields and begin a more thorough search.

Reverting to the traces visible in the satellite image, one can add that the fortifications were built on a rectangular plan, with the longer sides oriented along a NE-SW line. The length of the fortifications is not certain, but on the basis of soil discolorations on the farmland, it can be assumed that it was about 190 m. The width of the fortifications can be calculated easier thanks to the preserved traces of two bastions – it was about 120 m.

It is worth emphasising that from the embankment on which the fortifications were built it was possible to observe a nearby section of the Dniester (about 700 m to the south-west) as well as a crossing on the Seret (about 1000 m to the south-east). However, these distances indicate that the garrison had no chance of cannonading any of the targets successfully. So it was a watchtower, which was used when necessary as a base for cavalry offensives and a safe shelter for convoys heading for the Ramparts of the Holy Trinity.