Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary

 
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Thank you! - Friends of Szadvar Awarded

Activity report of the Szadvarert Barati Kor (Friends of Szadvar) association

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.

Links:

Volunteers at work
Volunteers at work

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.

During the first phase of the work - excavations - enthusiasm was not lacking. Almost fifty volunteers put in a good week of effort - defying the hot sun - to uncover the secrets of the castle. We were very glad to see a number of archaeologist student from universities all over the country.  

We concluded a successful and pleasant week as we have found some important artifacts and acquired some important new information. For each evening following a day of hard work the association organized relevant presentations led by lead experts in the field. 
It was great to see again that people from all over the country and from very different backgrounds can get together and act together for a common cause: to save our national heritage.
What's next? In the following weeks professional builders take the place of the volunteers to complete the conservation of the Csonka tower and the adjacent walls. 

Links:

While a large part of our country engulfed in a blizzard, the village of Szögliget received the participants of the 14th castle workshop in pleasan weather conditions. As usual we kicked off our activities on the national holiday (March 15th). Members of our association were invited to the official celebration of the village and started the day at the heros monument remebering the heros of the revolution of 1848. The celebration continued at the local community center where a new exhibition opened showcasing the artifacts our association helped unearthing in the past seven years. Mayor Katalin Mihalik Tóth, Gál Mlakár from the Miskolc Museum of Archaeology and local history researcher Gabor Bubenkó gave speeches at the event summing up what Szádvár means to them and how it relates tothe village.

 

A szádvári kiállítás megnyitója a szögligeti Muvelodési Házban

 

Pillanatképek a megemlékezésrol és a kiállításról

 

A zord idoben nagy keletje volt a forralt bornak is. :)

We ended the day with a meeting reviewing the 2013 plans. Staying true to our traditions we raised the bar again. Besides the traditional archeological workshop, the association aims to research and conserve the famous Csonka bastion, that according to legend received its name from the damage it suffered during the siege of 1567. The construction will require special equipment because the bastion's outer walls tower over the steep northern hillside.

Next morning the team despite the cold weather happily marched up to the castle to start the preparation work and successfully removed the stones from within the bastion. This way the archeologists will have an easier way to research the inside of the fortification.

A fiúk a Csonka-bástyában dolgoznak.

We were happy to welcome our old friend Miklos Szabo with his special frying pan as we started to prepare his famous "langos". Our members appointed Miklos as the cook of Szadvar and awarded him a prestigious aprin. Needless to say after a day of hauling stones nobody needed a lullaby to fall asleep.

We cannot wait for the summer to come!

Despite the harsh economic conditions in Hungary our organization is approching another successful year helping the village of Szogliget through the difficult times. Our success is a result of the dedication of our volunteers and donors who has not stopped coming to help out. Thank you! As a result more tourists visit the village and the castle more people spend nights in the guesthouses and use the local services.

Our effort in previous years concentrated on the outer courtyard, however during an inspection last year  we noticed that one of the relatively high standing walls in the inner castle did not have much time left. The wall had become so shaky that a strong wind could blow it down to the Menes valley. This wall belonged to the medieval palace and still had an easily identifiable door and a window.  As the archeologists explained the door used to lead to a small room where our predecessors went in need.

The ruined toalette before the restoration

The ruined wall first had to be inspected from an archeological perspective. This work was carried out in July and unearthed several interesting findings. We found objects that people lost while taking care of their business so to speak. We also learnt that there used to be a cellar under the building and found the mostly still intact arches that used to hold the ceiling. Right under the wall the survey uncovered a large whole that could have made the whole whole collapse and this finding spurred the organization to action to speed up the conservation works. Luckily through donations and grants we had enough funds to finance the project that cost more than 6 million forints.

The hole under the wall

The restoration effort took a few weeks and we could not be more proud of the results. The whole under the whole was filled the old door leading to the toalette got a new frame and the whole section is now sure to withstand the weather for another couple centuries.

Above: The medieval toalette after the restoration

In 2012 we are concluding another successful year. We managed to hold another great excavation summer camp where kids and adults alike had a great time and learnt a lot about the castle, history and each other. In addition we saved another piece of history for the future generations of visitors. This is the 5th part of the medival fortress (in bold below) that has been preserved to date. We will not stop here and continue raising the bar and raising more funds to preserve our national heritage and to provide an unparalleled cultural experience for our members.

Links:

Toalett wall
Toalett wall

This summer the association is gearing up for yet another eventful excavation and restoration season. In July our volunteers helped the archeologists from Miskolc to research the only remaining wall of the oldest part of the castle. This wall happens to contain the medieval toalett. The wall is in such bad shape that unless it is conserved it may fall into the valley under it next winter.

We managed to raise enough money to carry out a detailed research on and around the wall as well as strengthen the structure later this year. The research yielded some interesting details we did not know before. The building was at least 2 stories high, the archeologist located the door leading to the toilet as well as the beams holders for the ceiling.

During the week we managed to clean the wall of vegetation and thanks to the research ditch opened just behind the wall now we know that there was a 5-2.5 meter cellar below the building.

In August we will host our international archeologist camp to gain new knowledge of how our predecessors lived in the castle 500 years ago. The work will focus on the outer and middle gate towers, the so called "snail" that was used to transport goods up the hill and in the outer barley.

In September we are scheduled to conserve the toalett wall. We will post pictures when the work is done.

This work could not have been achieved without the help of our donors! Our association greatly appreciates your help!

Diggings around the wall
Diggings around the wall

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Szadvar Castle

Project Leader
San Jose, CA United States

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Map of Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary