From the olden times of Endriejavas

Gintautas Zabiela

Up to now, the prehistory of Endriejavas Valsčius (in Klaipėda District) has not been investigated enough, since there are few archaeology sites or finds in this rural district, no special investigations were carried out, and the data are dissipated through different archives. They do not enable to reconstruct the picture of prehistoric events, only sporadic episodes can be observed. The paper presents all the known facts of the ancient material culture about the olden times of the Endriejavas Valsčius.

Scholars who studied the area before knew only 5 stone axes from Endriejavas environs; the paper mentions also 6 more axes collected and described by Antanas Žemgulis–a teacher of Endriejavas school. The oldest one is a boat-shaped battle-axe found in Balsėnai Village and dated as mid-3rd millennium B.C. Other 11 axes are from the Bronze and Early Iron ages.

There are two hill-forts in the villages of Norgėlai and Žvaginiai. The latter hill-fort was shortly investigated in 1972 by a team headed by Mykolas Černiauskas (1912–2002). An area of 0.24 m2 excavation was investigated and some fragments of hand shaped and throwing pottery were collected, but they were lost later. The paper publishes these investigation data taken from a brief report by Černiauskas. The Curonian castle of Ablinga mentioned in 1253 is thought to be in the site of Žvaginiai hill-fort.

The final archaeological site, the investigation data of which are presented in the paper, is the 8th –9th century Norgėlai cemetery, 500 m north of Norgėlai hill-fort. Some artefacts from it were brought to the then Museum of Antiquities in Vilnius and included into Necrolithuanica–the album of archaeological finds compiled by Carl von Schmith (about 1795–1876) and published in 2005. In 1909, Vladas Nagevičius (1881–1954) investigated an area of 45 m2 in the Norgėlai cemetery and identified seven graves of the 8th –9th centuries. The material of his investigations is published according to his report held in Russia (except for findings being held in Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage).

The material presented in the paper enabled to make a conclusion that the area of Endriejavas was inhabited in prehistoric times. People lived here at end of the Stone Age and Early Iron Age. The heritage of the Curonian tribes covering the period from the second half of the 1st millennium to the 13th century is discovered here.