Šilentabor archaeological site

Upper Pivka valley, Slovenia, has a rich and tumultuous history. There are abundant remains of Iron and Bronze Age hillforts, and Roman military camps, there are ruins of once mighty castles, ancient churches and villages still going strong.

A 750 m hill called Tabor, above Zagorje, got its name from a type of foritified church – ‘tabor’ – that was both religious and defense structure. When the Ottoman armies and auxilliares rampaged around here, the villagers took refuge within the church walls with their meagre posessions, hoping the Ottomans would not bother climbing the hill and scaling the walls for almost nothing of value. Usually, they didn’t.

The church still stands. Dedicated to Saint Martin, it was built in the 11th century, modified in the 15th century and expanded in the Baroque. Its gothic chancel (presbytery) is adorned with beautiful frescoes attributed to artists of Istrian-Karstic style.

(Chancel ceiling frescoes, St. Martin at Šilentabor, 15th century. Courtesy of Park of Military History Pivka)

On the top of Tabor hill there was a castle called Šilentabor, built in 1471 as a fortress protecting the upper Pivka valley against Ottoman incursions. The castle burnt down in 1700, and was completely razed by Napoleon’s armies in the early 19th century.

(Šilentabor castle engraving. J.V. Valvasor, The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, 1679)

But the history of this hill goes further back in time. On the kite aerial photo below you can see some thick lines of trees: they cover the massive ramparts of a huge prehistoric hillfort:

The prehistoric hillfort was protected naturally by steep rock walls along the western and northern sides. Access was easier from the east and south, and there the settlement was protected by a high stone rampart, which is doubled in its southeastern section. The rampart walls are still 3m to 7m high, and the widths of their bases are between 17m and 23m.

The Iron Age hillfort’s walls are strikingly visible on a LIDAR survey of the area:

The hillfort was occupied from Iron and Bronze Age up until the late Roman Empire, as attested by numerous archaeological finds.

These kite aerial photos capture almost 3.000 years of history of Šilentabor, from its beginning in the Iron Age up until today, with st. Martin still guarding the upper Pivka valley from above.

Kite aerial photos taken with Canon A810, attached to a Royal 69 sled kite.

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