The Gnyozdovo Archaelogical Complex is one of the most significant archaeological sites for a Viking-era settlement. There is evidence that an important 10th century hill fort (gorodische) and settlement once existed here on "the route from the Varangians to the Greeks" (ie from Scandinavia to Byzantium). The site was first discovered by chance in 1867 when workmen involved in the construction of the new railway line discovered 10th century jewellery. Since then many other valuable finds originating from various parts of Europe have been found at the site. However the site is most famous for its kurgans (burial mounds), of which there are around 3000 scattered about.
There is some debate over the ethnicity of the original inhabitants of Gnyozdovo, although the Varangian presence there seems to predominate. Some experts have suggested that Gnyozdovo was a predecessor to Smolensk, while other theorise that Gnyozdovo coexisted with Smolensk, serving as a settlement for the Varangian elite with Smolensk being an predominantly Slavic settlement.
|Location||Vitebskoe Shosse, near Gnyozdovo (approximately 12km from Smolensk)|