Where did they come from? What was their purpose? Were they a place of cult, a calendar, or maybe rather a family tomb of some ancient tribe? Throughout the years, archaeologists, historians, astronomers, and even botanists have on numerous occasions explored the area that surrounds them. And even though nowadays knowledge of them is quite substantial, the question still remains… what exactly was the purpose of stone circles?
Odry is a small Kashubian village located in Chojnice county (powiat), near the picturesque town of Czersk. It is here that the Odry Stone Circles Nature Reserve is located. It is the largest in Poland, and second largest in Europe concentration of stone circles and kurgans (burial mounds). These mysterious stone constructions and mounds date back to the turn of the 2nd century. They are what remains of the Gothic and Gepid tribes that inhabited this region for a while, after their great migration from Scandinavia to the Black Sea.
A bit of history
The burial ground, which stretches for 8 hectares, consists of 10 stone circles and 30 kurgans, a total of 600 graves. Throughout the years, scientists have developed numerous theories as to their origin and purpose. In the year 1874, Abraham Lissauer, an archaeologist born in Kościerzyna, estimated that tools that had been found on site came from the Neolithic era. Fifty years later, professor Józef Kostrzewski attributed the formations to Early Slavs. Nazi researchers, on the other hand, claimed the circles to be a Germanic sanctuary. Finally, in 1962, dr Jerzy Kmieciński claimed that the burial ground was the remains of activity of Scandinavian tribes, which had left Pomerania after about 200 years.
A substantial collection of items found during on-site excavations is displayed in the Museum of History and Ethnography in Chojnice. The exhibition contains most valuable archaeological findings, which document the material and spiritual culture of Gothic tribes, such as ceramics, jewellery, utensils and tools. The exhibition also includes a model of the burial ground and reconstructions of graves.
Spirits, aliens, and positive energy
This place has been a subject of extensive research by both professional researchers, and amateurs. Astronomers also visited the site, trying to establish whether placement of the stones was connected with pre-historic observation of the skies. The site was even visited by dowsers, according to whom the circles and kurgans form the so-called “places of power” that focus the energy from the Earth and Cosmos. Amateurs of geomancy recommend this place as a zone of “particularly positive energy”.
According to some communities, circles in Odry, as well as in other locations of similar type, are strictly (though not entirely explicably) connected with otherworldly life forms. Witnesses claim having observed strange night sky phenomena, as well as other events; “movement” of entire constellations, or temporary disappearance and reappearance of people are just some of them.
Ghost hunters will also have plenty to do here. According to a legend, a Slavic prince whose coffin had been made entirely out of amber was buried somewhere among the stone circles, or in one of the kurgans. Past treasure hunters attempted to find the precious grave, but the spirit of the asleep prince interfered. It is said that from that point on, the spirit has been reappearing among the trees to guard its secrets from those eager for fame and riches.
Legally protected stones
For hundreds of years, also biologists have been convinced about unique qualities of the mystery ruins. In 1958, the Odry area was designated a legally protected nature reserve, created not only with archaeological findings in mind, but also to protect around 90 species of lichens that grow on rocks. It would be nothing out of ordinary if it weren’t for the fact that they occur only in high mountain areas. Also, some of them occur only in Scandinavia.
How to get there
The reserve is located about 1.5 kilometres north-west of Odry village, on the southern bank of Wda river. You have to follow Zawodzińskiego street to the forest. There, after about 200 metres, turn left, according to the sign, onto a forest road that leads to Miedzno village. After another 500 metres, turn right, onto a road that leads to a parking lot next to the entrance gate. In summer, you will have to pay an admission fee.
Other places of interest:
Leśno (Brusy commune, Chojnice county) – reserve and burial ground located south of Leśno village, in a forest by Leśno Górne lake, near a footpath. It can be reached from the village (via road next to the cemetery, about 1.5 kilometres south), or from Leśno-Brusy road (after entering the forest south from Leśno, you need to take a left turn, onto a track marked with a signpost)
Piaszno (Tuchomie commune, Bytów county) – the local site is located about 1.2 kilometres south of Piaszno. You can get there by taking a road around the observation tower, through the farm courtyard.
Trątkownica (Somonino commune, Kartuzy county) – the burial ground in Trątkownica is located on the right bank of Radunia river, about 3 kilometres from the village of Babi Dół. It can be reached from Żukowo-Kościerzyna road, by turning west onto a wide, forest track just after passing Babi Dół. Local inhabitants call these stone circles “a Stone Wedding” . If you want to know why, better ask them yourselves.
Węsiory (Sulęczyno commune, Kartuzy county) – the Gothic cemetery is located about 1.5 kilometres south of a village on the north-western shore of Długie Lake. The parking is located about 800 metres from the site, which requires taking a walk during the final part of the trip. The effort put in it, however, is well worth the while.