Virje – Volarski Breg/Sušine

Settlement, town, county: Virje, Koprivnica-Križevci County

Site type: settlement, melting workshop

Period: prehistory, Late Antiquity, Early and High Middle Ages

Type of excavation: systematic

Institution: Institute of Archaeology (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013) in collaboration with the Koprivnica Municipal Museum (2012)

Excavation manager: Dr Tajana Sekelj Ivančan (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013)

The archaeological site Volarski breg lies on the right, adjacent to the road running from Virje towards Molve in the Koprivnica-Križevci County. The entire area, composed of three very low hills, abounds in surface archaeological sites suggesting that the site, known from as far back as the 1980s, was occupied in several historical periods.

The site attracted the attention of archaeologists once again after ploughing in 2007, when dark spots became visible in the soil, and clusters of broken red daub, slag and ceramic nozzles surfaced to the ground, which indicated that there was more to the site than just a place of habitation. The excavations carried out in 2008 uncovered the remains of a metal workshop with melting furnaces and pits from the Early Middle Ages. The remains of five furnaces for melting iron ore were documented in situ, as well as five round pits with burnt bases, a semicircular feature—presumably the remains of a fence—as well as a number of timber post-holes.

Based on the observed positions of the surface finds from 2008 located north of the trench, it was concluded that this position, too, contained the remains of furnaces and structures, which were immediately endangered by intensive farming. Due to this, an excavation was carried out in 2010, which uncovered the remains of an early mediaeval settlement and a melting workshop. When the investigations at the same position resumed in 2012, they uncovered an area with large archaeological features of a circular plan with a burnt base, filled with discarded slag and daub from the workshop. It seems that their primary function was for making charcoal, indispensible in the process of melting iron ore.

A survey of the surrounding area in 2012 uncovered another position with identical surface finds, upon which minor test excavations were immediately carried out at this new site, called Sušine. The excavations yielded the remains of a settlement from the High Middle Ages, as well as a part of a workshop complex, most of which was covered by the waste dumped from the workshop. A radiocarbon analysis of charcoal collected from contexts investigated in 2010 and 2012 showed that this part of the site contained melting workshops from Late Antiquity. A geophysical survey of a part of the site at Sušine was carried out in 2013. Based on these results, an area of 300 m2 was uncovered. The excavation in the workshop complex uncovered the peripheral parts of the workshop with the remains of furnaces, which probably extended further. A significant part of the area was covered with a dump from the workshop. In the north-western part of the trench, the excavations revealed an elongated prehistoric feature that abounded with ceramic finds from the La Tène period, while in the smaller trench we investigated parts of an early mediaeval settlement.

The total area investigated so far at the archaeological site Virje – Volarski breg/Sušine is 2811 m². There are plans to continue the geophysical, as well as archaeological investigations in 2014.



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