Chronology of transformations in Grodno Castle from the 13th to the mid-16th century

Małgorzata Chorowska



The aim of the article is to present the results of the architectural research on Grodno Castle which was carried out by the author in the years 2017–2019 in cooperation with Radosław Biel and a query of published written sources by Agnieszka Gryglewska. They shed new light on the chronology of transformations in the structures of the upper castle in the period from the end of the 13th to around the mid-16th century. Contrary to what has been previously thought, the shape of the upper castle consisting of three wings of buildings with a height of 3–4 storeys was formed in a different way at that time. This was previously attributed to construction actions undertaken in the early modern age. The late-medieval origin also refers to the tower perimeter of the middle castle and the lower part of the wall protecting the zwinger.      As a result of the conducted studies and field research, construction actions which were undertaken in the Middle Ages in the upper castle, can be grouped into three phases that occurred in around 1300, 1350 and 1500. In phase 1, a high perimeter wall with battlements and a hoarding overhanging the entrance gate to the castle and a section of the southern wall from the rocky slope and the road running along the River Bystrzyca Valley, were constructed. The wall climbed a rocky slope, culminating on the eastern side. There, at the highest point of the hill, it formed a square tower in plan with the same height as its adjacent sections. This fact makes us connect Grodno Castle with the type of the so-called coat castles, relatively rare in Silesia, but numerous in the territory of Bohemia. The wall surrounded a large courtyard and the rock on which the princely house was built. The entrance to the castle led from the south-west through a high ogival gate arcade secured with a portcullis.     In around the mid-14th century, a long two-winged house was added to the inner side of the defensive wall. It had two storeys and reached half the height of the present 2nd storey of the castle. From the east, the southern wing reached the rock on which the oldest castle building was built. The last medieval extension probably took place at the beginning of the 16th century, due to the fact that the Czetryc family obtained a royal privilege in 1502 and a lucrative customs house in Jedlinka. As a result, the two-storey stone house was transformed into a four-storey stone and brick house, although some of its internal divisions and the rooms above the kitchen were made of wood. The storeys of the heightened house “climbed onto the rock” on which the house from phase 1 previously stood and were closed from the north with a thick stone wall. Even further to the north there was a brick kitchen. The most important room in the house was a magnificent two-storey hall which occupied the entire central part of the southern wing on the 3rd storey. Thus, it turned out once again that the scope of construction works which were carried out in the castle in the Middle Ages and the size of its body turned out to be larger than originally assumed.

Full article view is only available on bigger screens.