Mounds

Mounds

Mounds

Mound complexes are an integral part of the great history of our country. They consist of hills with castles, outworks, outer baileys, adjoining ancient settlements. Sometimes castles were built in the castle site instead on the hill. This was the name of open fields surrounded with rivers and forests. There are only a little more than ten of such places in our land. We cannot also forget and shall not forget tumuli. The purpose of a castle hill was to withstand the fortress castle, while the purpose of a tumulus was to safeguard the ancestors‘ sleep in the depths.
Mounds are like land annals holding the memories of nearly two and a half thousand years of our past history. There is a lot of secrets in them: traces of various battles, snippets of everyday life, reflections of old faith….
The old people say that mounds were built by giants, soldiers or even by ordinary people. That there is plenty of space inside the hills for sunken castles and manors. That the bells ringing and the organs playing inside the mounds do not disturb peace and tranquillity of the troops who sleep there. It was believed that wicked spirits and sorcerers live in the dungeons, that treasures are hidden there. But a clear warning is given that no one should dig about these hills or even plough them up.
Outworks and outer baileys are important fellow travellers of mounds. Enclosed outworks served only for the defense of the castle. While outer baileys where the home of merchants and various craftsmen. And precisely outer baileys gave the start to the prospective cities.
There was even more fuss in the ancient settlements located at the foot of the castle hill. Someone was striking the iron and someone was giving water for the horse to drink on one side of the settlement, while someone was making a secret deal or offering the beautiful daughter to the rich man‘s son on the other side. The people of the settlement not only lived their lives but also served the needs of the castle‘s noblemen.
Trakai Island Castle that was built by the Grand Duke Gediminas is one of the oldest fortresses of masonry in Lithuania. Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, was born precisely in this castle. There are dozens of the castle sites in our country that were built by the Teutonic Order, and only few of them belonged to Lithuanians. The castles were built on the hills, in the open fields, in the water protected areas.
Tumuli are the most serene of all hills. The souls of our ancestors, the ancient Balts, rest in the tumuli. These graves are called Graves of the Giants. There are two ancient cemeteries and one site of graves in Joniskieciai, in the field of Linkaiciai village. Those two ancient cemeteries are called Graves of the Giants. There is almost one verst between them. Once upon a time giants lived in those places. They shared axes, chisels, drills with each other without leaving the home. Maironis also wrote about giants: The commanders who died in war were replaced with the new ones, and the bodies of the deceased were burned and tall graves were built in their honour. The field of the battle was considered to be a place which is worthy of respect and stones were used to fence it. Today people usually call those places “Graves of the Giants”.

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