30 May 2013

Fish in the tower – The sunken fort of Drencova

We already brought on the sunken Ada kaleh Island as a painful memento of the Iron Gate I. Hydroelectric Power Station, installed exactly 40 years ago. This small Turkish Island is the most renown victim of the 33 meter water level rise. Apart from this island, there were many other islands, castles, ruins, towns, roads which disappeared in 1972. This entry is about a small fort, soon to be disappear. East of the village Berzasca, Romania at the small ship-station of Drencova there is a stream called Suva Recka (Dry stream in Serbian). Here we find the ruins of Fort Drencova.

For a long time Drencova station in Caras Severin county was the starting (or ending) point of the Iron Gate gorge for shipsmen. Here began the famous shallows of “Klisszura”, where the goods carried by large vessels had to put on smaller boats to cross the dangerous Iron Gate. Especially in times of low water it was very hard to get through here. Instead of Bersasca, which settlement was not on the banks of the river, they built Drencova station with a port and landing. Later a glasshause and a lumbermill was built in this small settlement with only a few dozen inhabitants. Drencova also had a privileged strategic position on the Danube in the Middle Ages. A royal castle was built here after 1419 against the Turkish invasion, aligned in the Danube border fortress system.
Drencova around 1830

Cartographers of the 1826 Danube Mapping survey described this small (33*29 meters with 2 meters thick wall) fort as “Römischer mauer = Roman walls”. The fort possibly had an ancient foundation, a Roman watchtower, built after the Roman Empire conquered Dacia, or later, when I. Valentinian fortified the Danubian border end of 4th century. Watchtowers like this were common fortifocations along the Danube, the locals often called them as a “maiden-fort” or “flea-fort”, regarding their size. It’s location may confirm the Roman origin. The fort stands right next to a creek, near the Danube in the floodplain. Diving archaeologists should examine the 12 meter deep foundation to clarify this, but to be honest, there is not much chance for it. Prior to the 1972 flooding in this area there was no archaeological excavations by the Romanian authorities.

Built during the reign of King Sigismund of Luxemburg (1387-1437), it’s first mentioned owners were the Teutonic Knights, according the charters. After the knights returned home to the Baltic in 1435, the property went to Frank Tallóczi, Ban of Szörény. Later, at request of János Hunyadi King Albert granted the fort to Mihály of Csorna and Miklós Bizerei. In 1457 we find Drencova in property of the Hunyadi family. After more than 200 hundred years of Turkish occupation the fort became a ruin. When Imre Thököly headed for Beograd, as member of the Turkish relieving forces (!), according to a contemporary description he rested in “a ruined stone tower near Drencova”. In 1879, Lénárd Böhm published a short description about the fort in the Délmagyaroszági Történelmi és Régészeti Értesítő (South-Hungarian Historic and Archaeologic Period), which is the first and last detailed description about the tower of Drencova.

Looking down on Drencova from the west, the square fort is situated next to the Danube

We do not know exactly when and how has the fort has lost its significance. It may became ruin after a Turkish siege, which it could not resist, because of its size. Or - it is quite possible - the guards abandoned this strategic point after their position became untenable. Another – more prosaic – reason for destruction could be that the Danube has washed away the southern corner. Icy floods could also have slowly eroded the “L” shaped – missing – southern section.

Sign shows: Drencova fort Historical monument. Soon there will be nothing to demonstrate
Drencova is today a depopulating settlement, partly swallowed by the river after 1972. Only 4-5 meter high walls emerge from the river out of the total 16 meters. This wall is constantly eroded by water. Waves wash the mortar out of its stones, slowly piercing the once thick walls. Each and every fallen stone weakens the structure.
Only fish and birds can approach the walls besieged by the Danube
Within a few years this 600 year old fort will be swallowed by the Iron Gate reservoir.

No comments:

Post a Comment