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Jersika castle hill

Location: N56° 16` 33.0", E26° 12` 8.35" | Website: visitlatgale.com/lv/objects/view?id=1304

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Jersika castle mound is Jersika castle of ancient Latgali ruler Visvaldis, which was described in Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. The ancient castle which king Visvaldis called the heritage of his ancestors was located on the right coast of Daugava, in front of Dignaja castle. It is located on the coast of Daugava and it stands between two brook ravines. Jersika castle mound was the centre of state structure.

Jersika castle was first mentioned in Chronicle of Henry of Livonia in 2304 during description of events. Later Jersika became the residency of Riga bishop’s vassal, which was established in an ancient Latgalian castle mound. In 1209 bishop Albert assaulted Jersika and made its ruler Visvaldis to become his vassal. When in 1209 German crusaders invaded it, they stole also church bells and icons, which show the Christian character of Jersika. In 1212 when discussions between Polotsk prince and the bishop of Riga were held near Jersika, when it was decided to allow free movement of Russian and German traders through Daugava, Jersika castle was renewed. But as Visvaldis of Jersika kept on showing insubordination to bishop, incite pagan and cooperate with Lithuanians, in 1214 and spring of 1215 Koknese knights repeatedly destroys it, again obtaining a large war loot, horses and cattle.

In 1224 Visvaldis was forced to give the church his remaining part of the land, which bishop Albert later rented to Ikskile castle knight Conrad. In 1239 after the death of Visvaldis and knight Conrad, Nikolai – bishop of Riga – together with the order’s master decided about the further induration. By induration it was meant the construction of a stone wall. Although the planned castle was not built, the castle and the old city are not abandoned.

In written sources Jersika castle was last mentioned in 1431, where Cistercian order asked the pope to approve it as a part of the property also with 50 plow lands in Jersika, which had belonged to the nuns since 1257. Already since the 16th century there are several assumptions in literature where Jersika castle was located. As evidenced by archaeological excavations, the layer or 14th century’s culture in Jersika castle is very little, and it points at less intensive population during this period of time.

The castle mound is located on the right coast of Daugava. A naturally protected area has been chosen – the steep coast of Daugava demarcates it from South, but two ravines of the brooks flowing into Daugava from Western and Eastern side. On the dry land side the castle is protected by 2m high artificially made soil rampart. The plateau of the castle mound is 75x100m. The most intensive population here was from the 10th century up to the beginning of the 13th century.

***Legends***

Once upon a time in Jersika castle lived Visvaldis, under whose command were several thousands of people. There used to be many brooks around this mound, from whom only few are seen today. When running from Germans, Visvaldis hid a large amount of golden money in an ancient mug which he hid in one of the breeches. Later when the castle mound was taken by Germans, the castle was ruled by a baron. Castle laborers who were cleaning this breech found the money stock hid by Visvaldis. As they were only two, they did not say anything to baron. The workers took the mug and hid it in another breech. If the money was not in the breech, then the face of the money taker turned for the rest of his life, eyes turned red and hurt a lot; sometimes it even took someone’s life. The workers couldn’t tell anyone where the money was, because then it meant a sure death. When these workers died, no one knew where the money was, but their descendants got crooked faces and red eyes. Now these people have the fourth generation already with still red eyes and other marks.

Several hundreds of years have passed and no one knows about these treasures, and no one is looking for them. It is thought that if someone would search these breeches, he would find many valuable things that would testify about the life of our ancestors.