Regular report of the Szadvarert Barati Kor (Friends of Szadvar) association
The castle hill of Szadvar is surrounded by beautiful mountains and peaceful valleys which stand guard not only against the enemies but against extreme weather sometimes. Well, it was not the case on the long weekend of 23 - 26th October when the people gathered for the 17th Save the Castle Days event in Szögliget. Although we did not have to worry that some enemy would reach the village or the castle but a strong cyclone brought extreme rainy weather around the area for a couple of days.
So the people who arrived to work on the Castle had some time to look around and visit the “Intezo haz” (Governor’s House) in the village. This is one of the oldest buildings of Szögliget and it was recently renovated and restored in its 18th century state. The house is very interesting in itself but for us it’s special because this is the place where the exhibition about Szadvar and its excavations will soon be located. The display cabinets which will show the findings and documents are already installed. The Herman Otto Museum at Miskolc agreed to lend some of the most interesting articles we found during the excavations of Szadvar in the last few years. We are really looking forward to seeing the results of our hard work and we believe that the more people will see it the more volunteers may be involved in the future.
We have also had the opportunity to visit the near village Tornaszentandras where the Romanesque style Church of Saint Andrew built in the 12th century is known as the location of the wooden altar of Szadvar’s former chapel. So this time the volunteers could see and touch something which was once part of that great castle they are trying to save for the future.
The 2nd day the rain stopped in the morning so volunteers could climb up to the castle and start cutting the plants off the walls. But only after a few hours of work the rain started to pour again so we had to leave the castle with some remaining bushes. But some of the volunteers could stay and went up on the 3rd day as well. At least we could clean the cellars and the bushy places which made us satisfied.
Due to the weather conditions the restoration of the Csonka tower was also processing slowly. But we could see the walls were already reinforced on the inside (to the south) and on the adjacent walls. It will be standing when we go back next year and it will look just as the plans showed in the previous report.
Please see the attachments for more details.
This summer Szadvar continued to reveal its hidden secrets buried more than 300 years ago.
As reported earlier, the 2nd phase of the Csonka tower’s conservation started in June with the excavation inside and around the building. The weather was not perfect as there were some rainy days in the area that time so the bastion could not completely cleaned from the ruins inside the walls.
The wall which closed the building from the inner bailey (south side) was found and the different construction phases could be identified. Connecting walls were also found with the possible entrance but the stones of the door-step did not show (if there were at all). The adjacent wall on the eastern side was also cleaned and prepared for conservation. Due to the weather conditions there were remaining ruins which had to be removed from the tower on the next event. Now the tower is prepared for the conservation and reinforcement which should conclude this year.
We opened the summer excavation camp on August 4th, 2014. Up to 60 volunteers – including archeology students and children, arrived to the Szalamandra tourist house under the castle hill. These people were going to work on the excavations to help the archeologist Viktor Gal who had set out 7 different locations to dig.
This year the excavations were focusing on the areas around the remaining walls which are still standing around the inner bailey. These walls are not protected by the ground so they lie under the wearing effects of the rains and winds. We hope to receive fund and more sources in the forthcoming years to enforce these walls so we had to prepare for that with the excavations.
The most exciting location was probably the wall of the gate tower which once defended the entrance to the inner bailey. We have most probably found the remains of the vaulted gate and a brick floor in the adjacent building which may have been the kitchen. We were also digging in the Lakatos bastion where we found large beam holes in the walls showing once there was a strong wooden building there. We have dug out many ruins from the prison house but there were not much findings in those ruins. Still, we have found many ceramics, some nails and 2 coins during the week which made the people excited and enthusiastic to complete the hard work every day.
Hopefully we will have the opportunity to report about an exhibition soon where we plan to show these findings to the local people and to everyone who travels in the small village of Szögliget.
Now we are going to prepare for the Save the Castle days in October when we are going to need to cut the bushes from the walls again…
We held our 16th ‘Save the Castle days’ in March 2014. This was a 2-day event started on Friday and despite the fact that the national holiday, March 15th was on Saturday this year still many volunteers travelled from around the country to Szadvar. More than 25 people left their workplaces and took a holiday to help and contribute.
The trees in the forest were still not leafy so the walls were clearly shining and everyone could see them from the village. It is not the case in the summer when the trees cover the majority of the walls since the building was demolished in 1688. So it was nice to come back and see the castle walls smiling at us from the top of the mountain. Even though that smile is not perfect yet…
But this time we didn’t have to cut the weeds and bushes around the walls. The goal was to collect as many loose stones as we could around the inner bailey, of course without removing any parts of the remaining walls. These stones then will be used as building material for the conservation of the Csonka (Truncated) tower. We even pushed up 3 wheelbarrows to the castle to be more effective and we were. The volunteers managed to collect a quite big pile of rocks and stones next to the construction area.
It was an important achievement because the 2nd phase of saving the Csonka tower is about to start in a few days with the excavation inside and around the building. The adjacent wall on the eastern side will be conserved and eventually a wooden roof will be built to cover the walls and to prevent the water flowing through the bastion from the inner bailey. This project is expected to be completed in the beginning of June. You can see the original status in 2006 and a preview of the final state on the attached photos.
Another important mission of our association is to propagate Szadvar around and even outside the country. Since this castle is located near to the Slovakian border it had been a restricted area and it was not allowed to freely visit the castle before Hungary joined to the EU. So just a few people came here between 1920 and 2006 and the castle was more or less forgotten. It was a great opportunity that the nationwide known Hungarian association, Castrum Bene (www.castrumbene.hu) accepted the invitation of Szögliget village and the Friends of Szadvar and they held their annual conference at Szadvar this year. Close to a hundred people, archeologists, historians and architects came to the village not only from Hungary but from Slovakia, too. They were staying in Szögliget between May 2-4th and they visited some places in Slovakia. The presentations were in Hungarian and in Slovakian, too, helped by interpreters. The conference was successful and we hope that this event will provide good publicity of our efforts and results in saving Szadvar.
Friends of Szadvar asked graphic artist Frigyes König, President of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts to draw the castle as it may have looked like in the 17th century. He was kind to accept the challenge and after studying old prints and old inventory data of the castle he created not only one but 12 beautiful drawings! We issued these in our first publication about Szadvar with the support and help of Civertan Bt. (www.civertan.hu).
Now we are preparing for our most important annual event, the summer excavation camp between August 4-9th 2014. We expect 50+ volunteers to come this year including archeology students and children. In addition to that we can see more and more people and families visit the castle this time of the year, because they are welcome to join in the excavation activities which is a great experience for not only the small children but for their parents, too.
Thank you for your generous help which made all this possible!
We proudly report that our association was honored with the Gyula Forster Memorial Medal by the Hungarian Government in Sept. 2013. Gyula Forster played a significant role in the beginnings of historic preservation in Hungary. This award is a great recognition of the contribution the members of the association and the several volunteers have been doing for the past 6 years. We really appreciate and thank you for all the donations which were essential to our achievements in historic preservation that the government recognized with this award.
In 2013 the members and volunteers were really active not only in contributing with their hard work but also after that: they have submitted 14 narratives about their experience during the summer excavations. We proudly shared these memoirs on our website (in Hungarian). All of them were reporting about good atmosphere and a pleasant activity on a nice event providing an opportunity to help which was a positive experience and left warm memories. Some of them actually reported finding interesting artifacts such as coins, animal bones or even a canon ball.
The summer activities concluded with the completion of the conservation of the still 40 feet high walls of the Csonka (Truncated) tower. Despite its name this building was the only tower of the castle which was not demolished by the Austrian forces in the 17th century and it survived the last 300+ years in quite good condition. It was named after the damages during the siege of 1567. ( See No. 14 on the layout for the location of the tower. ) Preserving and partly rebuilding the Csonka tower gives us a possibility to have a locked and safe place where the tools and essential construction materials can be locked and kept so the volunteers will not have to carry everything to the top of the mountain every time we climb up to the castle.
The main event during the fall was the traditional 15th ‘Save the Castle’ days in October. There were 30 volunteers working together to clean all the shrubs and twigs off the walls and cut the bushes which keep growing back inside the castle baileys evey year. This time the weather was perfect and the view from the castle hill filled the people with colorful autumn mood.
In December, 2013 we started an online magazine called ‘Varjaro Magazin’ (Castle Tour Magazine) on our website to draw some attention to the medieval castles and to our activity as well. The articles are issued monthly and are written by some members of the association or archeology and architecture experts who are willing to support us with their thoughts and writings. (Sorry, only available in Hungarian for the time being.)
During the winter months the castle is a beautiful place to visit but there are no organized activities. This is the time of the year we can prepare for this year’s events. Our next event is the 16th ‘Save the Castle’ days in March 2014. We plan to do some cleanup and finish removal of the remaining stones from the Csonka Tower so the summer excavations can be started with less effort.
Similarly to previous years we entered our busiest season of the year: summer. Due to the economic hardship hitting Hungary we had to curb our plans yet we still managed to get a lot done.
Research and excavations continued to unearth the secrets of the outer courtyard and we also opened a ditch inside the Lisztes bastion to learn more about the structure. The association has been aiming for years to save the Csonka tower which got its name from the damage it had sustained in the 1567 siege. Finally this year we could start some conservation work on it, strengthening the most vulnerable parts of the structure.
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