Kartena and Curonian Castles at the Minija River and western frontier of the Ceklis Land

Tomas Baranauskas

The name Kartena had been mentioned in 1253 in the Act on Division of South Curonia, where not only many present-day place names of Žemaitija (Samogitia) were mentioned for the first time, but also it contained information about the territorial structure of the then Curonia.

A certain lower level territorial unit (valsčius–a district) of Ceklis (or Ceclis) Land shows up and embraces the castles making the Minija–Salantas defence line to protect the Ceklis Land from the Baltic Sea side, where the invaders had been coming in different time periods. This unit seems to be formed not of separate wide castle regions, bot of smaller region groups or of regions from the central Paminijė group (Paminijė–Kartena–Ducinė) and separate peripheral castle areas (south of Gargždai and north of Imbarė). The allocation of the Paminijė hill-fort group, as compared to the 16th c. Paminijė Vaitija (woytowstwo Pomieńskie), enables to make an assumption that Paminijė was not a simple castle region, but a centre of a larger group of regions. Its centre might be the hill-fort of Martynaičiai or Mišučiai. The Ducinė (Duzene) castle region can be localised in the Kačaičiai hill-fort, based on a micro-toponym marking a Ducinės soil in the Village of Kačaičiai. Kartena in 1253 should be linked to the Kartena hill-fort. One can guess that the Minija–Salantas defence line could be used in the 14th c. during the battles of Lithuanians with the Crusaders, when it could be reinforced by newly built castles.