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Tervete castle mound

Location: N56° 28` 55.3", E23° 23` 4.60"

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Tervete castle mound (Sugar mountain) is located on the right coast of Tervete river and is rising 27m over the surroundings. 9,5 hectares around the mound on the western side used to be a city. It was named Sugar mountain on the 19th century, because the form of the hill looked like a sugar brick. Castle mound was populated already on the 1st century B.C., and also in 12th and 13th century.

When the crusader invasion started at the beginning of the 13th century, Tervete was one of the most powerful Zemgali settlements with fine indurate castle mound. Tervete castle mound used to be the economic, political and military centre of Western Zemgale.

In archaeological excavations (1951-1960) it has been stated that the castle mound was especially indurate during 11-13 century, when the northern side was expanded and horizontal beam wall and towers were built.  

Tervete was led by its ruler Viestarts, who subjugated the most part of Zemgale. For about 20 years Zemgali were cooperating with crusades that were led by bishop Albert, and were their allies in fight against Livs. The collision with crusaders started when Mezotne took the Christianity and German army squad was formed. In 1228, led by Viestarts, Zemgali joined curonians in a crusade against Riga. Zemgale was completely invaded by crusaders in 1254. From 1271 to 1272 Tervete castle mound was invaded by Livonian order, in 1279 Zemgali leader Nameisis evicted Germans from Tervete, but in 1281 Tervete was again invaded by crusaders. But Tervete citizens again got rid of Germans. In 1285 order master went to Tervete but was not able to invade it. Crusaders then foothold on indurate Holy mountain which was located nearby – about 200m from Tervete castle mound, and terrorized a wide territory for a long time. Zemgali and Lithuanians surrounded the Holy mountain, but were not able to invade it; therefore Tervete people burned down their own castle and went to Rakte (Zagare) region. After proscription of Zemgali, Germans destroyed also Holy mountain castle.  


The name Sugar mountain which is the other name of Tervete castle mound came in a very strange way. In one day at a lunch time, some peasant boy went up on the hill and started accidentally lick the ground which was sweet. The evening came, but the boy was still not home. The peasant was suspicious and went up the hill to look for the boy. When he got on the top of the hill he saw the boy, with his mouth full of soil. Peasant also tried it and the soil was actually sweet. The hill is called Sugar mountain since then.