BURIAL GROUND, EXECUTION GROUND, AND ST MATTHEW CHAPEL ON LORETÁNSKÉ SQUARE

Prague 1, Town of Hradčany

Loretánské square

Large burial ground and settlement area; the past of the square is reminiscent of tombstones set in the wall of the ramp, the square is divided into two parts and the ground plan of the extinct Baroque chapel is marked in the pavement.

public square, tram station Pohořelec

In the past, the narrative sources not only associated the area of the current Loretánské Square with supernatural phenomena, which were connected with the beginnings of Christianity in Bohemia, but also with drastic stories indicating that one of the Prague execution grounds was located there. Archaeological research, which was conducted in the 1930s in connection with the reconstruction in front of Czernin Palace, uncovered evidence of multiple changes of this area from the Early Middle Ages to modern times, mainly in the eastern part of the square. The research provided evidence of several alternate sections of burying and settling. About 800 graves were discovered. The fact that the burial ground was much vaster than the researched area is further supported by the findings of human remains all around. The earliest burials – cremations – date from the early Slavic period. One burial urn with a woman’s remains was found as well as several shards of typical pottery which give evidence that there was not just one burial. The majority of discovered graves may be dated from the Middle Ages; 200 graves are sure to date from the 11th and 12th centuries but their number is probably twice that. The deceased received very modest equipment for their last journey; most of the graves revealed no charitable gifts. Most of the objects – temple rings, typical jewellery of that time – were found in children’s graves. The area of the future square appears to have been used as a burial ground after the mid-11th century. Over time, the original linear arrangement of graves was changed into a tiered burying. Up to ten levels of graves layered gradually above one another were found. Several coins, rings, beads, and a small touchstone with traces of silver hanging from a neck of a little girl were found in the graves. Marlstones were laid around some graves, and monumental sandstone tombstones were also revealed. The arrangement of graves and priest’s equipment in one of them indicate that a church was situated between the graves from the very beginning. However, no direct evidence of its existence was found.

The burial ground on Loretánské Square is the earliest burial ground in Prague that is situated in an area which was previously settled. The burial function of this part of Hradčany in the Middle Ages is evident by the tombstones set in the wall of the terrace by the access road to Loreto. The earliest pottery dates from the continuous settlement of the Hradčany promontory sometime during the second half of the 9th century. The numerous collections of fragments of a later pottery and remains of settlement layers provide evidence of the intense use of the area in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Assumingly, the burying ceased there after the Hussite Wars. In the 16th century, human remains of people who died a violent death, some being decapitated, were placed in the area of the former burial ground. There was probably an execution ground as well. The baroque chapel of Saint Matthew is the latest structure to have been uncovered during archaeological research. The chapel was demolished in 1788 in connection with the decree abolishing all side chapels. The marked ground plan in the paving of the upper part of the square near Loretánská Street resembles this structure.

Datum vložení: 21.1.2019 | Datum aktualizace: 31.8.2020
Autor: Ivana Boháčová

Použité prameny:
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  • Boháčová, I. – Blažková, G. 2011: Loretánské náměstí v Praze-Hradčanech. Archeologický výzkum I. Borkovského a jeho výsledky. Castrum Pragense 11/1, 2. Praha.
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