Pola bitew – ważny element dziedzictwa
Battlefields as an important element of heritage
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Battlefields are where historical events took place. They differ in significance, which is either national or global. It is usually difficult to determine the exact area of conflict. This particularly concerns battles that were fought in ancient or medieval times. The more recent a battle, the more abundant historical sources are, and it is easier to determine the field of conflict in question. In order to discover its precise location, historical and other types of research are conducted. This sometimes might shed new light on what historians have established so far. The answer to the question of whether a battlefield constitutesa monument is of course affirmative and there should be no doubt about it. The Polish law recognises, among others, places that commemorate events as monuments, and an area where a battle was fought is most certainly such a place. In Poland there are five fields of battle which are legally protected by being inscribed on the register of monuments. These are: Grunwald (1410), Racławice (1794), Maciejowice (1794), Raszyn (1809) and Westerplatte (1939). As many as three of them – Grunwald, Racławice and Westerplatte – are considered Monuments of History and are of special significance to the State. Which is the best form of protecting a place such as a battlefield? The Act of July 23, 2003, on the Protection of Monuments and the Guardianship of Monuments introduces forms of protection other than the inscription on the register of monuments. These are the creation of cultural parks and the introduction of protection arrangements into local spatial development plans. It might seem that the above measures are more flexible and efficient in preventing the degradation of battlefields. A question arises then: how to legally protect a battlefield without inscribing it on the register of monuments? It seems that the best way is to indicate that such an area is under conservation protection and to list it in the Voivodeship Record of Historical Monuments. In the case of battlefields where elements such as the remains of field fortifications or graves of those killed in battle were preserved, it appears that the best solution is to implement a combined strategy. The area of the battlefield itself can be protected by the conservator and might be included in the Voivodeship Record of Historical Monuments. Other aforementioned monuments can be inscribed on the register of monuments. This will ensure both the protection of the area and the protection of the immovable monuments, though on a smaller scale. There are at least 4 stages of the proceedings that need to be undertaken in order to determine an area where a battle was fought in the past: Stage I – Detailed historical and cartographic analyses. Stage II – Field research consisting in determining where in the modern landscape the characteristic elements of the landform features, hydrography, or roads, related to particular historical events, can be found. Stage III – Archaeological research, which will enable to specify the exact area of the field of conflict, determine the places where particular parts of the battle were fought, or verify the immovable monuments associated with it. Stage IV – Determining the zones under conservation protection. There are several ways to enhance the attractiveness of areas where a battle was fought in the past. One of them is creating a museum dedicated to this particular historical event. Choosing this option, one must bear in mind that the museum has to be modern and present its message in an attractive way. Another, cheaper solution is to stage historical events with the participation of the so-called groups of historical reconstruction. In the years 2008-2011 the National Heritage Board of Poland, initially known as the National Centre for the Research and Documentation of Monuments (KOBiDZ), undertook the task of conducting archaeological research involving 3 fields of battle. The battles in question were 2 battles of the Seven Years’ War fought in Sarbinowo in the Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship (Zorndorf 1758) and in Kunowice in the Lubuskie Voivodeship (Kunersdorf 1759), as well as the battle of Ossów in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship. Battlefields are unique monuments. They are not buildings or other monuments that are noticed immediately. Their boundaries are blurred and it requires a lot of effort to determine their approximate surface. Protecting them constitutes another problematic issue, as their areas are significantly large. Research, exploration and protection of such monuments can all become important factors with regard to social integration among local communities, raising historical awareness or, last but not least, awakening patriotic sentiments.
- archeolog, absolwent Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. W latach 2000-2007 związany z Instytutem Antropologii i Archeologii Akademii Humanistycznej im. A. Gieysztora w Pułtusku. Od 2007 roku pracownik Działu Archeologii KOBiDZ. Obecnie kierownik tego działu w Narodowym Instytucie Dziedzictwa. Jego zainteresowania naukowo-badawcze dotyczą szeroko pojętej archeologii konfliktu. Autor publikacji z tej dziedziny. Członek Conflict Archaeology International Research Network.
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