Treasure Hunters Rush in Search of Legendary Gold Loaded Carriage at Burun Kale Fortress near Bulgaria’s Shirokovo

Treasure Hunters Rush in Search of Legendary Gold Loaded Carriage at Burun Kale Fortress near Bulgaria’s Shirokovo

A view of the rock "cape" between two rivers where the ruins of the Burun Kale ("Cape Fortress") are located, not far from the town of Shirokovo, Ruse District, in Northeast Bulgaria. Photo: TV grab from BNT 2

A view of the rock “cape” between two rivers where the ruins of the Burun Kale (“Cape Fortress”) are located, not far from the town of Shirokovo, Ruse District, in Northeast Bulgaria. Photo: TV grab from BNT 2

The search for a medieval carriage loaded with gold treasures which is said to be hidden somewhere around the Late Antiquity fortress Burun Kale near the town of Shirokovo in Northeast Bulgaria is the latest craze among Bulgarian treasure hunters.

The local residents in Shirokovo, Ruse District, are concerned over the constant raids by looters around the Burun Kale fortress, reports local news site Ruse Utre.

The unexplored fortress in question is still called by its Turkish name, a leftover from Bulgaria’s period of Ottoman Yoke, meaning “Cape Fortress", because of its location on a rock between the rivers of Cherni Lom and Banski Lom.

However, it is known that Burun Kale was built in the Late Antiquity. Local legends have it that in the late 14th century AD, in the last years of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), before its conquest by the Ottoman Turks, a huge gold treasure was hidden nearby to prevent the Turks from taking it.

The alleged treasure is said to consist of chests of gold loaded onto a carriage known as a result as “the golden carriage".

The legends also mention that the Burun Kale Fortress itself was built by the Ancient Romans as a road station protecting a mail route. It had a deep moat filled with water.

The picturesque scenery of the fortress is complemented by rock niches which appear to have been part of a rock monastery in the Middle Ages.

Rock niches in the plateau where the Burun Kale Fortress is located may have housed a medieval rock monastery. Photos: BNT2

Rock niches in the plateau where the Burun Kale Fortress is located may have housed a medieval rock monastery. Photos: TV grabs from BNT2

Burun Kale Fortress 2aThe gold carriage itself is said to have been hidden inside a huge tunnel dug up specially for the purpose of hiding the treasures from the Ottoman Turks.

Back in January 2015, the police officers from the nearby town of Dve Mogili arrested a group of five treasure hunters digging at the Late Antiquity fortress Burun Kale.

During their interrogation they told the police they had heard the legend of the gold carriage, and were after it.

The local residents are afraid of the looters because, in addition to destroying the archaeological site and its cultural heritage, their gangs also commit theft and robberies.

The area around Shirokovo in Northeast Bulgaria has been raided by treasure hunters for over 20 years but their raids have really intensified in the last few years, and especially in the recent months.

The entire landscape around the town and the fortress is dotted with pits reaching a depth of 2 meters dug up by the treasure hunters in search of the gold carriage allegedly hidden near Burun Kale at the time of the Ottoman conquest.

The Late Antiquity fortress near Shirokovo, however, has not been excavated by archaeologists yet.

Little of its ruins are visible on the surface, other than stones from the fortress wall and mounds which appear to have formed on top of the fortress towers that protected the main gate.

The local residents demand that the police increase their presence and that video surveillance be introduced.

Pits dug up by treasure hunters at the Burun Kale Fortress near Bulgaria's Shirokov in search for the legendary "golden carriage" allegedly hidden in the area in the 14th century AD. Photos: BNT2

Pits dug up by treasure hunters at the Burun Kale Fortress near Bulgaria’s Shirokov in search for the legendary “golden carriage” allegedly hidden in the area in the 14th century AD. Photos: TV grabs from BNT2

Burun Kale Fortress 3 Burun Kale Fortress 4

Background Infonotes:

Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking.

One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from about 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are impoverished low-level diggers.

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The ruins of the Late Antiquity fortress Burun Kale are located near the town of Shirokovo, Dve Mogili Municipality, Ruse District, in Northeast Bulgaria. The unexplored fortress is still called by its Turkish name, a leftover from Bulgaria’s period of Ottoman Yoke, meaning “Fortress Cape", because of its location on a rock between the rivers of Cherni Lom and Banski Lom.

Burun Kale was built in the Late Antiquity. Local legends have it that in the late 14th century AD, in the last years of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), before its conquest by the Ottoman Turks, a huge gold treasure was hidden nearby, in chests loaded on a carriage (henceforth known as the legendary “golden carriage") to prevent the Turks from taking it.

The Burun Kale Fortress is about 400 meters long, and 150 meters wide. The fortress had three lines of fortress walls on its southern side. Two mounds mark the location of the two fortress tower on the outer wall protecting the main gate. Another fortress tower is known to have existed in the northwest section. The middle wall and the inside wall also had robust fortress towers whose location is marked today by mounds.

The picturesque scenery of the fortress is complemented by rock niches which appear to have been part of a rock monastery in the Middle Ages.

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