Archaeologists Unearth Coins, Iron Artifacts, Ceramics at Medieval Bulgarian Fortress Cherven

A photo showing the 2015 summer excavations in Cherven, one of the mightiest and richest cities of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD). Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

A photo showing the 2015 summer excavations in Cherven, one of the mightiest and richest cities of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD). Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

A wide range of archaeological artifacts have been discovered by the archaeologists who have carried out brief excavations in Cherven, one of the major urban, religious, and economic centers of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD).

The latest finds from Cherven, whose ruins are located near the modern-day town of Cherven, Ivanovo Municipality (Ivanovo itself is famous for its rock monasteries), Ruse District, in Northeast Bulgaria, include coins, iron artifacts, fragments from ceramic vessels, and construction ceramics, the Regional Museum of History in the Danube city of Ruse has announced.

The 2015 summer digs at the once glorious medieval city of Cherven razed to the ground by the invading Ottoman Turks in the 14th century AD have been really brief – they took place between September 7 and September 15.

This was most probably due to lack of government funding about which a number of Bulgarian archaeologists have complained, even though the release of the Ruse Museum does not mention that.

The fresh excavations in the Cherven Fortress have been performed by archaeologists from the Ruse Regional Museum of History and the Pavlikeni Museum of History.

They have focused on the digs inside the inner city of Cherven where in recent years the archaeologists have unearthed a church dubbed “Church No. 13”, a necropolis, and a craftsmen’s quarter.

Last summer, in 2014, Bulgarian archaeologists and archaeology students from the UK explored a new section of a previously known medieval necropolis in the city of Cherven.

While Cherven was one of the largest urban centers in the Second Bulgarian Tsardom (Empire), it has a much longer history, as its area also features remains from an Ancient Thracian settlement, an early Byzantine fortress, as well as several settlements from the time of the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD).

During the period of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), and especially in the 14th century Cherven became one of Bulgaria’s most important cities.

It has been excavated since 1910, with early 20th century excavations being led by Vasil Zlatarski, one of the most renowned Bulgarian historians and archaeologists from the early years of the Third Bulgarian Tsardom formed after Bulgaria’s Liberation from the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1878.

One interesting fact about Cherven is that so far the archaeologists have found a total of 80 medieval inscriptions about church donors there, more than in the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko Tarnovo, where a total of 60 such inscriptions have been found. This is seen as a testimony to Cherven’s importance during the Middle Ages.

The Cherven Archaeological Preserve is located within the Rusenski Lom Natural Park, along the canyon of the Cherni Lom River, in a truly magical and picturesque landscape.

The ruins of the medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven are found on a high rock while today’s town of Cherven, which was set up by survivors after the Ottoman conquest, is located down in the river gorge.

Background Infonotes:

The medieval Bulgarian city of Cherven was one of the most important urban centers in the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD). It is located in today’s Ivanovo Municipality, 35 km south of the Danube city of Ruse, on a rock overlooking the picturesque canyon of the Cherni Lom River, within the Rusenski Lom Natural Park.

It experienced dynamic urban growth after Bulgaria’s liberation from the Byzantine Empire in 1185 AD, and rose to great importance during the 14th century.

A total of 80 medieval inscriptions about church donors have been there, more than in the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko Tarnovo, where a total of 60 such inscriptions have been found, a testimony to Cherven’s importance during the Middle Ages.

It was a center of Christianity as the seat of the Cherven Metropolitan and a center of craftsmanship. Cherven was conquered and ransacked by the Ottoman Turks in 1388 AD.

After the Ottoman Turkish conquest, it briefly preserved some administrative functions but waned and essentially disappeared as an urban center. Some of its survivors settled nearby into the newly founded village of Cherven.

Cherven was first excavated in 1910 by renowned Bulgarian historian and archaeologist Vasil Zlatarski. It has been regularly excavated since 1961. In the recent decades, it has been excavated by Stoyan Yordanov from the Ruse Regional Museum of History.

Archaeologists have discovered there a large feudal palace, fortified walls reaching up to 3 m in width, two well-preserved underground water supply passages, a total of 13 churches, administrative and residential buildings, workshops and streets.

A famous 12 m-high three-storey tower, known as the Cherven Tower, from the 14th century has also been fully preserved and was even used as a model for the reconstruction of Baldwin’s Tower in the Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Tarnovo in 1930.

Cherven’s site also features remains from an Ancient Thracian settlement, a 6th century early Byzantine fortress, and several settlements from the period of the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD).