How did I find Milžinkapis the giant grave? I found myself wide awake one late March morning very restless. I think when you spend time in nature, not just Lithuanian nature you tend to want to make the most of it. For the regular reader out there you will know I’ve spent large amounts of my time in Lithuania in the forests around Vilkyskiai. The forests here stretch on seemingly forever. For me I think its the quietness and the emptiness of the forest that I love the most.
This particular morning I set off fairly early and headed toward a lake (Check it out here) I frequently like to visit, however this time I took a path I never took before, it took me through a clearing where I found myself in a vast empty and open plain with a single hill with 9 beautiful maple trees planted a top of it. What was this?
All I can offer you fine people is what I know, on further research online and speaking to folks in the area all I can say is I didn’t find much about it. So I‘ll give you the legends and the facts, and I will have to hope that makes do.
Milžinkapis – The Legends:
It is believed or rather legend is told, that Milžinkapis the giant grave was constructed by Napoleon’s army (He was also busy over at Raganų Eglė), to commemorate a successful crossing over the nearby Nemunas river. The army is said to have used their helmets or caps as some form of shovel to built the mount with sand.
Another legend says that the hill is a gravesite, once a rich lord who lived in the area was buried here along with his nine faithful servants who were murdered soon after his death. The nine maple trees were planted as a tribute to the nine servants, or so they say.
Milžinkapis – The Facts:
The hill is visible from far away and is a significant and picturesque part of the Šereitlaukis landscape, with natural and cultural importance. Apparently at the end of the 19th century, the then “Prussia Museum” found several pieces of burial material which were dated to be from around the 7th to 13th century old. In 1984 the exact burial place was found and then in 1988 more burial pieces where found which were dated to be from the 5th to 7th century.
Locals all agree that Milžinkapis is in fact an ancient burial ground (if I knew that probably wouldn’t have walked all over it in hind sight) that said its good to know that Milžinkapis the gaint hill is included in the Lithuanians register of cultural properties, and is now a protected heritage site.
So there you have it folks, both the facts and the legends leave more questions than answers sadly, Questions like, Who was the rich master a giant? How did he die? Why were the servants murdered? why a grave here? Why did Napoleon’s army use there helmets and not a shovel? These are the questions that spring to mind….
This was late March so it was early, early spring here in Lithuania so I would love to come back and see the maple trees in full bloom, I really hope to do so this summer. Maybe you know more about this than I do, if you do have any answers or know more about Milžinkapis the giant grave please leave comments below.
Until next time,