Anthropogenic soils in a marginal landscape – Fortified manorial sites in the woodland edge zone in western Czechia

This study presents the results of a geochemical and LiDAR survey analysis carried out at the deserted medieval settlement and fortified manorial farm (motte-and-bailey) in Čečín, in Czechia (Western Bohemia, Plzeň-North District). Focusing on the site of the medieval fortification and surrounding areas, different techniques of compositional data analysis have been used in order to detect geochemical signals. The most significant anthropogenic signal was picked up within the area of the fortification itself (i.e. the motte, elements P, Ca, Mn, and Zn); in contrast to this, samples from other areas – part of the bailey/manor, and the nearby fields and forest – did return weaker, or no such signals, as was documented by individual elemental concentrations, and by the results of PCA. The analysis of historical topographical, cartographical and LiDAR data points to continuity in the economic use of the area in medieval and post-medieval times and to the possibly marginal, or secondary role of arable management at this site. One may hypothetically argue that geochemical observations (i.e. the relatively less significant enrichment and concentration of anthropogenic elements at Čečín, compared to other sites) may also substantiate the claim, or interpretation that this landscape, in the vicinity of the manor, was less impacted by farming and fertilization, and its economic functions were other than crop farming (e.g. meadow, pasture, orchard). There have been a few similar sites (i.e. fortified manorial farms) identified in the LiDAR survey of the estate of the Plasy monastery, in the woodland area and in the woodland edge zone, which have been/are currently used as meadows, in the vicinity of hunting lodges. Their historical role – as medieval manorial sites – likely contribute to the fact that they appear now, in geochemical surveys, as ‘fertile’ islands surrounded by temperate forests.

Reference: JANOVSKÝ, Martin Petr; FERENCZI, Laszlo; HORÁK, Jan; KLÍR, Tomáš a HEJCMAN, Michal. Anthropogenic soils in a marginal landscape – Fortified manorial sites in the woodland edge zone in western Czechia. Online. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 2024, 53. ISSN 2352409X. Available at: