Archaeological Ensemble

11Priediens burial ground


About:

The territory of the Priediens burial mound site is situated in the southeastern part of the town centre of Grobiņa, on the right bank of river Ālande. The burial ground is located between Saules Street in the north and river Ālande in the south. Its western border follows Zviedru Street and its eastern border reaches Zirgu Street. The streets and modern buildings around the burial ground began to develop in the 1970s and the territory of the burial ground of Priediens is traversed by two roads and several pedestrian paths. As the site is located in close proximity to Atkalni Cemetery, they share the same buffer zone.

 

Consisting of hundreds of burial mounds, the Priediens burial ground is the largest of the Scandinavian burial grounds in Grobiņa archaeological ensemble. At present most of these are visible as slight elevations on the ground but some of the mounds are more conspicuous.

 

At the end of the burial ground’s period of use, i.e. the 9th century AD, there were around 2000 burial mounds of different sizes, albeit commonly ranging from 7 to 10 m in diameter and about 0.5 m in height. At the Porāni burial ground, excavations have revealed that the burial mounds are cremation graves containing the ashes of the deceased, buried with grave goods, laid to rest under the central section of the mound. Priediens burial ground has a particular significance in the interpretations of the history of Grobiņa, because it is here where direct evidence was found that the community of Scandinavian settlers coexisted with the local community of Curonians who according to their own traditions buried their dead in flat graves – located at the north-eastern part of the Priediens barrow burial ground there is a section containing Curonian flat-grave burials, comprising a combination of inhumation (skeleton) and cremation graves. Whereas the flat-grave burials of indigenous people are dated to the 2nd – 7th century, the burial mounds of newcomers date from the 7th – 9th century, thus indicating an overlap in time between the local Curonian grave customs and those brought by Scandinavian settlers.

 

Among the findings at the Priediens burial ground were jewellery typical for the Curonian cremation graves of 10th-11th century allowing to assume that the local people continued to live in the area also following the decline of the role of Scandinavians. It is assumed that the Curonian-related part of the burial ground comprises an area of c. 2 ha. The burials have been dated on the basis of artefactual studies (mostly their typology), and their analysis indicates that both Scandinavian settlers and local Curonians were buried at Priediens. 

 

Grobiņa archaelogical ensemble consists of several archaelogical monuments of the same period: Grobiņa hillfort (Skābarža hill) and the ancient town, Priediens ancient burial site, Porāni (Pūrāni) burial mound site, Smukumi flat-grave burial site, and Atkalni flat-grave burial site, which are located compactly in Grobiņa and its surroundings. These monuments mostly date back to the 7th - 9th centuries and they are related to the impressive Scandinavian settlement, which under the name Seeburg was mentioned in the 9th century written sources. Grobiņa archaelogical ensemble are included in the nomination "Grobiņa archaelogical ensemble" to UNESCO`S world heritage list.

 

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