Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary

by Friends of Szadvar (Szadvarert Barati Kor)
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Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary
Excavation camp with the help of volunteers
Excavation camp with the help of volunteers

Unfortunately, everything comes to an end, so did this Summer. Since our last Newsletter, our volunteers have been able to participate in many exciting programs both within and outside the Association. Those who are interested can read a short report about the events below.

The most important event of the past months was the 'Save the Castle!' Week which was held now for the 14th time since 2006. Apart from some rain, Saharan heat made our work difficult throughout the week. On the first evening, the 'veteran' castle rescuers could talk to the newcomers, and many new friendships developed between them. From the second day on, the archaeological work began. In the beginning, we only managed to throw away the stones and dig into the layer of earth, so that the luckier ones would find the objects lost long ago with joyful cries: pottery sherds, coins, book fittings, canon balls and so on. Once we had the honour to eat hot meal from the "Cook of Szadvar" who gifted us with his delicious food made on the site.

In the evenings of the hard-working days, we were listening to interesting lectures held by invited specialists dealing with various projects: dendrochronology, architecture and military mission. Here we would like to thank the large number of volunteers for their hard work, especially highlighting the enthusiastic help of the students from Debrecen, Jászberény and Ráckeve.

Recently, an exceptional event took place in our country, which had not been seen since 1876. The annual conference of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) was held in Budapest, organized by the Hungarian National Museum and the Eötvös Loránd University. We were given the opportunity to present the work that we have done for the Friends of Szadvar and with the help of the professionals, volunteers and supporters who joined us over the past 16 years. Our presentation took place within the section called "Step by Step. The Rough Road towards Community Archaeology". In this topic, the rescue of Szadvar was an excellent example of a civil initiative from a slightly different angle. We were able to talk about the external and internal challenges to which we are constantly trying to find the answer during these years.

The series called 'Varfoglalok' (Castle Occupiers in English) shot back in April was recently broadcast in a Hungarian TV Channel. The presenter and his 16-person crew visited 20 of our country's fortifications in order to please the viewer with his show, to get out of his armchair and visit these beautiful monuments. Many people helped us make this episode happen, so a big thank you to all participants for coming despite the cold weather! We show you some pictures from the shoot below.

In addition to the above mentioned events, there is always something to do for the association or for Szadvar castle. We will continue our monthly meetings online,  constantly looking for opportunities for development. We recently received a larger donation, which we gratefully want to use for the best possible purpose, for the sake of Szadvar castle and the region.

Thank You for your interest and kind support!

Lunchtime in the shadow of the trees
Lunchtime in the shadow of the trees
Team photo 1
Team photo 1
Team photo 2
Team photo 2
Preparing for filming
Preparing for filming
Arrival by horse-drawn carriage
Arrival by horse-drawn carriage

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Join the Friends of Szadvar!
Join the Friends of Szadvar!

Since the ‘Rescue the Castle Days’ event we had in the spring we are just preparing for our main event in the summer, which is the ‘Rescue the Castle Week’ or otherwise called ‘Archeological week’ in Szadvar. This is the most popular and exiting time we can have in the fortress, the real “Treasure hunt”, the revelation of the bits and pieces of a long-forgotten world – when guards were playing with dices and maids were cooking diner for the rulers of the castle.

This year we will be searching for more foundations and walls deep in the ground between 1 – 5th August (see the layout with the locations highlighted with blue). We expect more than 60 people – students, families, younger and elder people from all around the country to join us and dig trenches between the remains of the medieval walls.

We need to repair and buy some tools: shovels, pickaxes, buckets, gloves, helmets etc. We also support the costs of the volunteers and students who help in the hard physical work under the hot summer sun. We will stay in the village of Szögliget, which is located just under Szadvar, and due to the activities and rebirth of the Castle more and more tourists are coming to the area – which also raises the costs of staying there.

When Friends of Szadvar came first to this place 16 years ago, it was an almost unknown tourist destination. The ruins of Szadvar were literally covered by a deep forest – weathering even under the ground due to the stretching roots of the trees. Today, many people visit this location, 374 stairs lead up to the Upper (high) Castle from the lower fort which is called the pulley (station). We also designed fridge magnets, souvenirs which we can give to the volunteers and visitors, providing more publicity for Szadvar.

This is an achievement we reached with your help and support. There are no words to thank you for that. It is not only a hiking location in a National Park anymore. It is a living piece of history.

We just need to maintain and get more to know about these walls. 20-25% has only been revealed of the known walls… So, we keep digging and revealing what’s beneath the surface on the hill.

Thank you!

The first momentum
The first momentum
Digging the walls on the hillside
Digging the walls on the hillside
Treasure hunt!
Treasure hunt!
Excavation plan
Excavation plan

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The 30th 'Save the Castle days' team
The 30th 'Save the Castle days' team

After the long winter nights, when the Friends of Szadvar can rest and prepare for the next year, we could finally meet each other and the volunteers who joined the 30th ’Save the Castle Days’ event in Szadvar just a few days ago. The pandemic situation at last getting much better, allowing us to come, be and work together at last.

It was great to see that more and more young people can find the volunteering work meaningful and take it really seriously. They represent the next generation of the Castle Saviors – at least we like to think of them like that. This time we managed to involve 14 students from the ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) who complemented the core ’Szadvar team’ and contributed with their hard work to clean the site, especially on the south side of the castle hill. Of course, since they study cultural heritage and history, it was not only a physical exercise for them but an opportunity to see the historical aspects and the insight, how a voluntary project like this works in practice.

Overall, there were close to 40 people working 2 days among and around the stone walls in a pleasant and nice sunshine.

We have also started working on the preparation of the archeological event in the summer. We expect two Hungarian high schools to send their students for the summer event, also representing the next generation. Our archeologist already shared his plan for the location of the trenches all over the inner bailey. Those planned spots now were cleaned and prepared, not only the vegetation was purged from those areas but also the loose stones were moved and piled by the volunteers.

We have also managed to build and install a metal box to collect donations from the tourists who visit the castle hill and the tourist house under it. There is an information sign next to the road which leads up from the ‘Szalamandra tourist house’ to the fortress. It was erected by us a long time ago – you may remember when a few years back we had to renew it. Now we installed the donation box just on that sign, so if anybody is interested about the castle and stop there, they can also contribute with a small donation for saving Szadvar.

Likewise, thanks a lot for all your generous donations during the last 15 years. Your contribution is essential and unbelievably great. It helps not only the volunteers but all the activities we do for saving this piece of our cultural heritage. We are very grateful for all you've done.

Clearing the south side of the castle
Clearing the south side of the castle
Moving the stones in a chain
Moving the stones in a chain
'Chef of Szadvar' offers the lunch
'Chef of Szadvar' offers the lunch
Info & Donation box at the 'Szalamandra' house
Info & Donation box at the 'Szalamandra' house

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This October, Friends of Szadvar has arrived to an important milestone: the association has reached its 15th birthday. After beeing formed in 2006, members and volunteers meet three times every year, which means this last event taking place between 23 and 24 October was the 29th of such occasions. 

After the successful summer excavation camp, time arrived to start organizing the 15th birthday celebration of the association. Leaders have considered important to celebrate the fifteen years of volunteering with a special commemoration and a small and elegant gift for the actual and past members. The preparation process was kept in secret, so the whole event and also the gifts were total surprise for everyone. It was really a touching moment when our President of the association read all the names who joined the organization during the years and gave them an engraved metal medallion and a card as a thank you gift for all the contribution. I think this gest may strengthen the connection among the group which is very important in the management of such an association.

During the last 'Save the Castle' days, a group of 30 students joined us in cleaning a huge area of Szadvar. The students led by their enthusiastic teacher traveled across the country to help us and they did an amazing work. The two sides of the castle became clean again, after they got rid of the unnecessary vegetation which had covered all the stone walls. Finally, they felt very proud and said it was worth to travel hundreds of kilometres by bus. We owe a huge thank you to them!

A couple of weeks ago, we could get excited together as the renovation of the castle got included in the finalists of the Media Architecture Award. The Media Architecture Award, founded by the Architects' Forum (Építészfórum in Hungarian), presents the most outstanding and exciting works of contemporary Hungarian architecture for seventeen years. A jury of international experts has selected the best of more than 160 works this year. The professional jury invited by the Architects' Forum selected the story of the renewal of our beloved castle as one of the finalists in the “Built Environment” category. The winner was chosen by the public by voting online. Finally, on the evening of the award ceremony, the architect-designer of the renovation of Szadvar has won the award, as it was the most popular project among the voters. Our happiness is endless, as more and more people know the castle and our activities, so this shows the increasing popularity of Szadvar castle and its environment.

On the 13th of November, some of our members joined a conference in Szentendre which was dealing with methods and result in Public Archaeology. One of our Leaders gave a presentation about the challenges and results appearing during our work. It was very interesting to see how others fight with such obstacles here in Hungary and in Europe as well. The conference was broadcast live via online, so all who was interested could join.

In the background, we are working on some future projects in small groups, in the hope of presenting them next year. Until then, we would like to thank you for your donation and attention. We'll meet next time!

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National Meeting of Archaeological Communities
National Meeting of Archaeological Communities

In our previous report written in April, you could read in how many different ways our volunteers had been acting during the Covid restrictions in Hungary. Although we could not meet in person, we were not lazy to look for new opportunities, especially on different media platforms. Fortunately, the pandemic situation has improved since April, which led to the realization of our annual 'Save the Castle' week.

Back in May, precisely on the 23th, the opening ceremony of the restored Szadvar castle was held in Szogliget, where many of our members had the privilege to join. As You may know, with the help of the National Castle Programme, several stone wall sections were renewed, plus a save visitors' path has been established on the territory of the castle. The results speak for themselves. Based on the social media posts of visitors and the observations of the local people, Szadvar castle has become more popular day-to-day. After the speeches of the invited government officials and the president of our association, a pleasant reception was held where new friendships were formed.

Thanks to the visitors, more and more people get to know Szadvar castle. In the last few months, we had the great opportunity to speak about our activities on different media platforms: through interviews, tv and radio reports. We would be delightful if more and more people could join us to save our cultural heritage.

In our previous letter we reported that the renovation of the castle received a prestigious award from the Hungarian National Committee of ICOMOS. In the meantime, there was also an award ceremony which was attended by the architect designer of the castle. It is an honour to have been a part of this project!

Following the mitigations in Hungary, the second National Meeting of Archaeological Communities could be held in Szigetújfalu, organized by villages on Csepel Island. After last year's pleasant memories, we were glad to participate again in this initiative. On one day of the multi-day event, archaeological lectures and demonstrations attracted those who were interested. Perhaps due to the Covid situation, there were fewer visitors than last year, but we spend a very enjoyable day on the banks of river Danube. 

Certainly, the most awaited event in our association's life was the annual 'Save the Castle' week, which took place in Szogliget, in early August. The week before the event was a bit stressful, because we continuously asked each other: Will the epidemic and weather factors prevent us from our conservation activities? Fortunately, the weather was stormy only a few times, so the cca. 30 volunteers could enjoy the beauties of archaeology. The first hours and days were spent carrying away the huge stones so that we could finally get down to the last walking level, which contained the lost objects of the people of the castle who had lived centuries ago.

Next time we will hopefully meet in October, meanwhile we are constantly working in the background on different projects and plans. Thank You for reading this report!

Collecting tools and taking them to the castle
Collecting tools and taking them to the castle
Part of the team of this year's Excavation Week
Part of the team of this year's Excavation Week

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Organization Information

Friends of Szadvar (Szadvarert Barati Kor)

Location: Szogliget, Hungary - Hungary
Website:
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Szadvar Castle
Project Leader
Szogliget, Hungary
$14,857 raised of $25,000 goal
 
375 donations
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