Damage to the mound cemetery of Boldyni Hory in Chernihiv as a result of the war
In the Autumn of 2022, the Chernihiv detachment of the Archaeological Landscapes Monitoring Group (head – V.M. Skorokhod, Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) conducted a preliminary survey of the medieval mound cemetery “Boldyni Hory” in the city of Chernihiv.
The mound cemetery is located in the south-western part of the city, on the street Tolstoy, on the edge of the terrace of the Desna River in the tract of Boldyni Hory. D.Ya. Samokvasov conducted studies of the mound group in 1872–1873, 1878 and 1908. The cemetery covers an area of 1.2 hectares and is located between the Tolstoy str. and the edge of the terrace. In the 19th century, the cemetery was also fixed on the north side of the street. The largest barrows occupy the eastern part of the cape. The Gulbyshche and Bezimennyi barrows were partially restored after research. After restoration, the Gulbyshche mound has a height of 6 m (originally 8.6 m) and a diameter of 22 m, and the Bezimennyi mound has a height of 5 m (originally 7 m) and a diameter of 21 m. These two largest barrows contained a rich inventory accompanying the remains of cremation burials. Other mounds of this group have diameters of 5–12 m and a height of 0.5–3 m; contained burials according to the rite of graves in pits. A grove grows on the burial ground. In total, 230 burial mounds have been preserved. According to research materials, the cemetery dates back to the 9th–11th centuries AD.
The site was registered by the decision of the Executive Committee of the Chernihiv Regional Council of Deputies dated 31.05.1971 No. 286 and by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 03.09.2009 No. 928. The “Boldyni Hory” mound cemetery (including “Gulbyshche” and “Bezimennyi”) are monuments of national value, which are part of the necropolis of the ancient city of Chernihiv. The burial mound was partially explored and stands out for its uniqueness and preservation since the 10th century, being located in the southwestern part of the city. The Boldyn mountains are a park part of the city of Chernihiv and a recreation area for the citizens, they are freed from buildings and transport highways. This place has always been a local pearl, an excursion object in the protected archaeological zone of Chernihiv.
The destruction of the monument took place at the end of February 2022 during the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, and Chernihiv region in particular. In the first months of the attack by russian troops, Chernihiv was partially surrounded, and fierce battles were fought on the outskirts of the city. As a result of massive shelling, medieval architecture from the time of Kyivan Rus, religious buildings and a significant number of archaeological sites in the city itself and in the surrounding area were damaged. The territory occupies a hill on the edge of the original terrace of the Desna River, which is quite advantageous for the defense of the city. Fire positions, trenches and dugouts were set up on the territory of the burial ground, which caused damage to some mounds (about 10). 27 trenches and 2 shell hits were also recorded. Damage to individual barrows and the space between mounds can cause further erosion of the site, displacement of artifacts and burials themselves, damage to the aesthetic view of the area. The risk of looting by treasure hunters and subsequent destruction of individual mounds increases.
In order to preserve the mound cemetery of Boldyni Hory, it is proposed to carry out scientific archaeological research of the damaged mounds of the 9th – 11th centuries AD for the purpose of fixing the damage, studying and restoring the previous forms.