For years, the archaeological open-air museum "The Stronghold in Sopot" welcomes people to visit the reconstruction of an early-medieval gord. It functioned in the pre-Piast period, from the mid-9th century until, as it is supposed, the moment of establishing a settlement in Gdańsk at the end of the 10th century. Most probably, it functioned as a watchtower, which was responsible for controlling and observation of the seaside belt.
The "Stronghold" in Sopot
(branch of The Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk)
It has been established that the place had burned down three times and had been rebuilt twice. Its existence throughout centuries was only remembered through a tall rampart in the forest in the shape of a horseshoe, surrounding the interior courtyard from the South and North. After the excavation works, working by basing it on the findings, the houses, gate and, in-part, the palisade of this fortified settlement were reconstructed. Recreated in this manner, required for exhibition purposes, the stronghold, through its decorations, presentations of crafts and organized historic events, bring forth the quality of life and everyday activities of past denizens of Pomerania.
Five buildings were reconstructed within the stronghold. Two of them, the so-called Armoury and the Potter’s Hut, are open to visitors. Weapons and elements of armour are presented in the Armoury. They are an overview of tools of the art of war, from the most common among warriors, such as axes and gambesons, to the rarer which less people could afford because of price or production technology, such as swords and chainmail. The Potter’s Hut is dedicated to everyday-life craft: pottery and weaving.
Additional attractions come in the form of a family of goats. One of the huts was adapted for their needs, an enclosure was added allowing for the goats to present themselves for pictures. They are under no circumstances to be fed, however, they will gladly accept a friendly hand with a pat.
The Pavilion Exhibition
The exhibition Pavilion, which lies at the foot of the stronghold, houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent exposition showing prehistoric Sopot as well as the results of archaeologic surveys led at the stronghold.
The presented findings prove the consistency of settlement in Sopot and the surrounding areas from the moment of the glacier retreat. The oldest artefacts are dated to originate in the Stone Age – these are items made out of flint, including a spearhead from 9 000 BCE and fragments of clay pottery. A unique face urn comes from the 1st millennia BCE with an engraved image of a sun and stars; as well as a bronze necklace. From the Roman Empire Influence period, a piece of imported pottery “terra sigillata” and two coins from the 1st century CE.
The exhibition in regards to the stronghold, we can see many artefacts: fragments of pottery, clay spindle whorls, items made out of iron, bone and amber beads, as well as imported items – the proof of existing trade. The most basic activity of the citizens was pottery, however, the discovered clay and stone spindle whorls indicate the existence of primitive weaver’s workshops. One of the important activities was also blacksmithing, which is further supported by findings of iron items; as well as antler production and amber processing. Numerous animal bones and a large amount of fish remains indicate cattle breeding, animal husbandry and fishing. Besides fish bones, bones belonging to seals were found, who at the time dwelled in the waters of the Gulf of Gdańsk.
Models illustrating things such as obtaining amber, multimedia regarding early-medieval crafts, and for the youngest, the archaeological “sandbox” allowing the possibility to discover fragments of medieval pottery – can all be found at the exhibition.
Reconstruction of the Encampment from the Stone Age
The stronghold’s staff have, for some time, been trying to reconstruct the life of Stone Age man. For this reason, small shelters with few accessories have been raised, a place for flint processing and a hearth. Presented here are flint tools for processing leather and wood, weapons, including a spear thrower, organised shows of stone processing, primitive pottery, lectures about life of nomad groups of hunters and gatherers, or even rockface painting.