Sites of Great Moravia: Slavonic Fortified Settlement at Mikulčice – Church of St. Margaret at Kopčany
Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic
Trnava Region, Skalica District
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The church of St. Margaret Antiokhii in Kopčany with the archaeological locality of near-church cemetery and ante nave (narthex) forms a part of the Slavonic fortified settlement at Mikulčice, which is the most preserved immovable monument of early Middle Ages Slavonic state called Great Moravia.
The territory is stretching in present days over the borders of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Fortified settlement, its under site and important part of pre-site are stretching along Morava riverbed in the today's cadastral territory of Mikulčice in the Czech Republic. The tentative List for inscription of the Great Moravia fortified settlement at Mikulčice to the List of World Cultural Heritage was submitted in 2001.
St. Margaret Antiokhii Church in Kopčany and the archaeological territory of near-church cemetery and ante nave with the tombs of members of Great Moravian elite is localized in the territory of Hrudy on the South-Western bulge of the most pronounced dune of Eastern part of Slavonic fortified settlement at Mikulčice. The dune is spreading in prolonged irregular form and its topical places express an outline of the road leading to Eastern gate of the fortified territory at Mikulčice. In the northern part of the dune, there is a burial place and residence. We have frame knowledge only about the internal structure of the dune settlement.
For the inscription to the List of World Culture Heritage, we are submitting the territory in the broader surrounding of the church and the cemetery spreading up to Morava river. It is binding continuously to the Czech part of the Slavonic fortified settlement at Mikulčice. The territory covers areas with the highest probability of occurrence of archaeological artefacts.
The development of St. Margaret Antiokhii Church is characterized by the following three building periods:
1. The one-nave building with irregular rectangular choir, original ante nave with masonry embedded structure resembling a crypt had been constructed in the 9th century from thin sandstone slabs. The original surface treatment of the exterior and interior of the church is in present time the subject of restoration research. In the northern and southern walls, the church had a pair of simple windows and the same window openings in the apse, in western facade above entry opening to the navy of the church, and additional window openings there are, probably, in northern and southern walls of the ante nave. The construction of carpentry, type of original roofing as well as furniture of the church interior are unknown.
2. During 13th century, the ante nave was destroyed, the windows of the northern navy wall were walled in, and gothic windows with reveals in the shape of a nun were built in to both the southern navy wall and ante-nave, respectively. At that time, the original construction of rafters was changed, the roofing was replaced and the gable windows were rebuilt.
3. During 16th century, the large pointed portal in the Western navy wall of the church was manned, the altar was shifted to the navy of the church inside of which the ceramic brick pavement was laid. Later building improvements had the character of maintenance, only.
Archaeological territory near-church cemetery with tombs
The church is encompassed by a cemetery with tombs from 9th up to 18th century. About 80% of tombs have been preserved. The oldest burial layer is formed of graves of persons of the Great Moravia elite. Since the 13th century, the funeral ceremony is related with the village of Kopčany. As to original appearance of the tombs, tomb slabs from coarse sandstone, typical for early medieval cemeteries in the 11th up to 13th century, have been preserved.
The cemetery is the only preserved cemetery in the surroundings of Slavonic fortified settlement Mikulčice with the continuation of funeral ceremonies up to new ages.In the north of the church territory there is localized housing part of village Kopčany and burial place on which inhabitants of Kopčany and of other surrounding villages were buried. The housing quarter of Kopčany forms preserved dipped parts of dwellings and additional housing objects.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The church of St. Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany is the only almost completely preserved church of Great Moravia. It is totally preserved in its mass. The archaeological territory of the near-church cemetery with tombs of members of Great Moravia elite contains approx. 80% of tombs in their authenticable forms.
In the eastern part of pre-fortification of the fortified settlement Mikulčice in the area "Za jazerom pri Sv. Margite", there are resting parts of one Great Moravian residence in the archaeological position very close to the St. Margaret Antiokhii church.
The church of St. Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany and the cemetery are protected since 1995 as a national cultural monument by the Law No. 49/2002 of the Parliament of the Slovak Republic. The law concerns the protection of monuments fund. Both monuments are inscribed in the Central List of Monuments Fund of Slovak Republic under No. 10820/1-2.In the interest of protection of larger territory around the church and the cemetery covering areas with the most probability of an occurrence of archaeological artefacts there is under preparation official declaration of Monument Zone Kopčany. By the declaration the whole broader territory including residential part of village Kopčany and burial place up to Morava river from the Slovakian side will be protected. On the other bank of Morava river, the fortified settlement at Mikulčice is localized. The territory belongs to the Czech Republic.
Comparison with other similar properties
The Slavonic fortified settlement at Mikulčice together with the Church of St. Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany, in the context of both European and world archaeologies, respectively, belong to extraordinarily preserved monuments of archaeological substance of early Middle Ages Slavonic empire Great Moravia. They present a territory the development of which did not continue in later historical periods, in contrast to other similar settlements of the same ages, e.g. Stare Mesto at Uherske Hradiste in the Czech Republic, or Nitra in the Slovak Republic. Therefore it became unique.
The church forms the central object of archaeological finding-place with evidences of existence of original, relatively independent residential unit, the origin and function of which are directly related to the Slavonic fortified settlement at Mikulčice.
A comparable analysis of the Church of Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany with several additional Slovakian localities such as Devin and Bojna is in preparation. In the European fund of Pre-Romance sacral architecture, it is possible to compare the Church of Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany with the church of village Ston in Dalmatia. The Dalmatian church originates in later historical periods. The church was re-built and originally it was built without ante nave (narthex). The Church of Margaret Antiokhii at Kopčany is unusual. Its uniqueness is given also by the existence of the object No.2 in the ante nave.