Komin, Kocilj, Bisag castle, Trem (around Zelina)

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July 1, 2009

As a preparatory step for the exhibition «Templars in the Zelina Area» to be set up in the Museum St. Ivan Zelina, we have arranged with the Museum staff four days of filed work to determine the key, yet not sufficiently explored points in the cultural landscape that the Templars encountered when they came to the area in 1209 (St. Martin at Prozorje).

This first field trip was devoted to the northern and northeastern section of the Zelina Prigorje (Subnontana), as follows:

1. Komin – the church of the Three Kings. The well-known 17th century church with outstanding Baroque wall-paintings and inventory is currently being restored, and that was an opportunity to try to find medieval traces which should be present at that strategically prefect position controlling the Lonja valley and the two best crossings across the Medvednica Mountain (via Prepolno, and via Bedenica). Komin is a successor to a sizable Roman settlement (Pyrri?) and the current N-S thoroughfare mostly follows an important Roman road (Aquae Iassae – Siscia via Andautonia).

Unfortunately, we seem to have failed again. The best one can do is to confirm that the lower portion of the tower contains some large blocks long time ago recognized as Roman (but they also could be medieval), and that the western part of the aisle (very low interior might be a left over of a medieval building). Not very much indeed.

2. Then we drove up to Bisag and visited Kocilj, a peak at the northern end of a beam bearing the village of Draškovići and running N-S. The peak is rather steep (weekend homes at the top) and strategically very well positioned. Great view toward the North, with absolute control of the Lonja valley up to its source, and of the hills to the east, toward Križevci and the Kalnik piedmont. Kocilj is unexplored and what drew us it is its name, which is the same as that of the 9th century duke of Pannonia Inferior. This may be another argument that Pannonia Savia shared in the vicissitudes of the rest of the Pannonia Inferior in the 9th ct.

3. Bisag. Church of St. Mary Magdalene, nicely placed on a hillock (small hillfort) above the Lonja, and apparently right on the old Roman road. The church has been restored rather heavily, and its late gothic portal is now thickly covered by plaster. We did not get inside but it does not look promising. The western part of the nave is possibly medieval, the eastern end a typical Baroque (post-Gothic) polygonal chevet. Not the position and a possibility of an earlier building.

4. A bit to the north and right next to the Lonja is Bisag Castle, which, in its Renaissance-Baroque guise stood complete until it was burned down by the partisans in the WW2. The huge ruin still stands thickly covered by vie etc., making the ingress impossible. Should be cleaned in winter. This wasserburg is surrounded by a truly impressive moat fed by the Lonja, almost exactly circular, indicating that the place was once a circular lowland hillfort. A must to explore and restore. It controls the N-S traffic of the Lonja valley and also the crossing via Bedenica over the Mountain.

5. We returned to Komin and started toward the gap at Prepolno, and turned left through Zadrkovec to its highland hamlet of Trem (known as of 1412). It is a strategically perfect position totally inaccessible and controlling the Moravčak creek valley, with an eye on Komin. The peak is now under heavy vegetation (very steep sides) and the village (just a handful of homes) is a bit lower, to the East. As Trem (Kreml) indicates the presence of a large blockbau (or a house with a tower, a representative building, a hall), this may have been the seat of a local early medieval (early Slavic) lord (župan of the Mravče/Moravci) county, especially as a Mr. Houška, Director of the Museum, believes (and we tend to agree) hat another hill, further up into the Mountain and above the source of the Moravčak, used to accommodate the county castle of Moravče. Not illogical at all, as the immgrants would first name the water-course. Hey came from Moravia (along the river Morava, and some of their brethern settled in what is today northern Serbia along the Morava river!). The Moravčak valley is a definite must for further intense exploration.

6. We crossed the Prepolno Gap and descended into Žitomir (another “Ukrainian” place name), and from a back yard of a l,ocal family known to Mr. Houška we claibed the steep slope of Stari Dvor (Old Castle. Old Residence). It is a long slope, mostly cleared and cultiavated, with a fantastic view of the mountain ranges to the north, deep nto Slovenia, and probably, on clear days, beyond. The Holy Mountain of the Ivanščica is right opposite to the North. There is a likelihood that some kind of abode stood at the top of the slope, or on the spurs stemming out from it, and on the lower section, to the north of a large solitary pear tree, there is a lot of broken stone, unearthed through plowing. The visual links and the name (“Dvor” may be Perun’s place, as well as the place of the mid-summer wedding of his children, Ivan and Mara) make the site an interesting place for both excavation and mythological landscape combinations. Note: the Prepolno gap is almost seen but not quite.

6. We returned to Prepolno (the church of St. Mary of Sorrows is a baroque building but its tall proportions and format are medieval, there is apparently a Gothic fragment somewhere underneath the coat of plaster) and climbed the Barbarišće, a long, gentle beam climbing toward the south, S-W. At it highest spot, to the right of the road there is a grass plateau, next to which, in the forest there should be traces of the old chapel of St. Barbara. Given the summer vegetations we were unable to ascertain. The view is fantastic – Kalnik to the east, Varaždin-Toplica Mountains on the N, Ivanščica (view is obstructed by tress but as you can clearly see the Ivanščica from a somewhat lower position, it must also be seen from the top), the Prepolno gap, the Moravčak valley) an absolutely stunning landmark and possibly a relay point in a mythical landscape. St. Barbara, is a thunder saint, after her martyrdom her evil pagan father was killed by a lightning, so she could, possibly, replace Perun – an attractive idea to explore further.

We resume the survey next Monday.

 


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