Norkūnai mounds


Gintautas Zabiela


In the area west of the Nemunas River, about 5 km south-eastwards from the village of Norkūnai, there are two mounds explored in 1964–1965 and 2002 on the left bank of the Nemunas. The distance between these mounds is more than 750 m, thus they represent two different systems of archaeological monuments.

The first mound was formed on the right bank of the Mikasa stream. Now, only a fragment of its top level surface, as well as 1.5-m high rampart and 0.5 ha subjacent settlement site south of the mound can be seen. The investigation of the rampart showed that it was banked up twice: during the first centuries AD and in the 3rd-4th centuries. The area of 80 m2 uncovered in the subjacent settlement was found to contain only remains of the culture layer with rare artefacts of coarse and brushed ceramics.

The second mound was formed on the left bank of the Skardupis stream. However, only a 45-m long and 5-m high rampart, as well as a 1.5 ha subjacent settlement west of the mound survived by now. The rampart was explored in three sites covering the 530 m2 area in total, after a 2–3 m wide and 72 m long section was made. The mound and the subjacent settlement were established in the place of a former Stone Age (Palaeolithic) site. The age of the subjacent settlement dated according to the artefacts (mainly coarse, brushed and smooth surface ceramics) is about one thousand years. A coarse pot bottom with a stamped sign is an exceptional finding. The rampart of the mound was formed in the first centuries AD, later it had been repaired for several times and used by the beginning of the second millennium. 

In 16th-18th centuries, the first Norkūnai mound was used as a village cemetery. 35 graves of this period have been explored with rare cerements: iron scaled knives, belt buckles and coins. 

A conclusion is made that, at first, there were settlements at both sites, and later mound ramparts were banked up. The mounds are attributed to the Yotvingians.