Castle Rokštejn and deserted medieval villages

Castle Rokštejn

The research team of DAM started the systematic archaeological research at Rokštejn Castle in 1997, when it followed up a rescue excavation associated with the planned build-up of the Střížov reservoir since 1981. The extensive systematic research project comprises archaeological excavation, analysis of the building historical development of the castle, and definition of sequences of high medieval and late medieval material culture. Attention is paid to everyday life of castle inhabitants and their social and economic contacts, as well as to a complex view of the development in the region including the ecological impact on the natural environment in the region in the course of the Middle Ages.

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The castle is situated in cadastral district of Panská Lhota in the valley of the river Brtnice, 12 km as the crow flies from the town of Jihlava. It is a cultural monument with register number 21329/7-5055. Rokštejn Castle represents a fragmentary monument – a castle ruin. The preserved masonry can be divided into masonry from the last phase of existence of the castle which was destroyed, and masonry which is currently exposed by archaeological excavations.

Both types of masonry were reinforced, conserved and are presented to the public. The area of Rokštejn Castle is composed of the so-called Upper Castle, Lower Castle, northern outer bailey, and the western, southern and eastern outer ward.

Students are involved in research on the castle. The excavation practice mainly comprises direct study of stratigraphic principles in complex conditions with many building intrusions, changes in the use of individual zones and architectonic segments, and several horizons of decline. Practical training encompasses accurate documentary drawings, photographs and geodetic documentation, inclusive of GIS vectoring.

The excavation methods were supplemented by sifting, flotation, sorting of environmental and cultural samples, and basic conservation procedures.

Survey of deserted medieval villages

The survey of deserted medieval villages started in 2010 in association with systematic research at Rokštejn Castle, whose economic hinterland has been reconstructed. The spatial development of the demesne and its alterations can be followed up with the help of field survey and recording of deserted settlements with agrarian economy, as well as on the basis of production and mining facilities detected within the borders of a single demesne. Even though written sources are very important for the reconstruction of settlement, the analysis of historical landscape based on fieldwalking and sampling shows the basic subsistence strategies in the region and changes in landscape use in the strategies of rural economies based on agriculture or in the economic strategies of individual demesnes and their orientation.

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The economic strategy of individual settlements has been documented and analysed in a smaller landscape segment, in effort to reconstruct the settlements and their primary economic hinterland, e.g. village and its ploughland strip. The reconstructions of the original medieval areas used for agricultural purposes are based on several basic facts, which we try to combine in order to determine the carrying capacity and yields of medieval and modern agriculture. Among important sources of these analyses are the landscape prospecting survey and identification of deserted anthropogenic features (settlements and their agrarian hinterland), laser scanning of landscape, cartographic sources and written sources (rent-rolls, land registers).

Students are involved in systematic research into agrarian and economic hinterland of Rokštejn Castle within the AEB_129 course – Practical training in archaeological survey: workshop I. The students acquire practical skills in identification of anthropogenic relics, in methods of their documentation and interpretation. The landscape prospecting survey is based on prediction, use of archival and historical cartographic sources, and results of older research carried out in the region.

Anthropogenic relics are identified and interpreted on the basis of the preserved character of detected features and their relationship to the landscape. The captured relics are documented in 2D (1:100 plans inclusive of surveying of passpoints and GIS vectoring, oriented photo-documentation) and in 3D (photogrammetry, surveying with a total station in a dense network of coded points).

Selected localities are also surveyed with the help of a metal detector, as well as stratigraphic and environmental sampling with the help of a pedological drill and the subsequent analysis of samples.

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