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Fig. 1. Veliko Tarnovo. The fortress on Trapezitsa Hill from southeast

48

. 2. . 1. . . 2. . 3.
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Fig. 2. Veliko Tarnovo. Old plans of the North Tower. 1. Plan according to K. korpil. 2. Plan according to P.
Abadzhiev. 3. Plan according to V. Dimov

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. 3. 2007-2008 . ( . ).
1. 1; 2. 2; 3. 3; 4. ; 5. ; 6. , 1; 7. ; 8.
1.1; 9. 1.2; 10. 1.3; 11. ; 12. 1; 13.
2; 14. 3; 15.
Fig. 3. Veliko Tarnovo. Plan of the North Tower after the 2007 and 2008 digs (according to K. Totev). 1. Room
1; 2. Room 2; 3. Room 3; 4. East entrance; 5. North entrance; 6. The blocked wall, the new staircase and the
mortar ramp in front of the staircase in room 1; 7. Pillar holes; 8. Room 1.1; 9. Room 1.2; 10. Room 1.3; 11.
Rubbish pit; 12. A hearth in Room 1; 13. Pavement and staircase in Room 2; 14. Hearths in Room 3; 15. The
place of the North Gate

50

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Fig. 4. Veliko Tarnovo. The North Tower from southeast

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Fig. 5. Veliko Tarnovo. The interior of the North Tower from north

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Fig. 6. Veliko Tarnovo. The interior of the North Tower from south

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. 7. . 1. ; 2. ; 3. ; 4.
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Fig. 7. Veliko Tarnovo. The walls of the North Tower. 7.1. The west wall of the North Tower; 2. The first south wall
and the first east wall of the North Tower; 3. The first east wall of the North Tower with the main entrance; 4. The
second south wall of the North Tower

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Fig. 8. Veliko Tarnovo. The walls and rooms of the North Tower. 8.1. The second east wall and the second north wall
of the North Tower with the entrance; 2. The staircase in the north wall of the North Tower; 3. Room 1 (blocked wall
and staircase) from south; 4. The south wall of Room1 and the entrance to Room 3

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Fig. 9. Veliko Tarnovo. The rooms of the North Tower. 1. Room 2 from east; 2. Room 2 with the north entrance from
southeast; 3. The east entrance of the tower and the door between Rooms 1 and 3 from northwest; 4. Room 3 from
northeast

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Fig. 10. Veliko Tarnovo. Plans of the North Tower (reconstruction by E. Dermendzhiev). 1. Ground floor (first
building period, phases 1 and 2); 2. First level (first building period, phase 1); 3. Third level (first building period,
phase 1); 4. First level (first building period, phase 2); 5. Second level (first building period, phase 2); 6. First level
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Fig. 11. Veliko Tarnovo. Cross-sections and general view of the North Tower (reconstruction by E. Dermendzhiev).
1. Longitudinal cross-section A-A (first building period, phase 1); 2. Longitudinal cross-section B-B (first
building period, phase 2); Transverse cross-section C-C (first building period, phase 1); 4. The North Tower from
southeast

59

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65

, . . - . - : 2008 . , 2009 - .

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The North Tower of the medieval fortress on the Trapezitsa Hill in


Veliko Tarnovo (Summary)
Evgeni Dermendzhiev
The defensive tower standing out in the fortress
located at the north end of the Trapezitsa Hill is
described very briefly by V. Beron, K. korpil
and V. Dimov. This fortress played an important
role in the urban structure of Tarnov, the capital
of Bulgaria from the late twelfth century till the
end of fourteenth century AD (fig. 1). The tower
had not been excavated so far and the existing
plans differ significantly from each other (fig. 2).
One of the main goals of the digs in 2007 and
2008 was to identify the plan and the function of
the North Tower. The excavations were directed
by Konstantin Totev together with Evgeni
Dermendzhiev and Plamen Karailiev (fig. 3).
The foundations of the North Tower are built
into the narrow rocky promontory which forms
the north terminal of the Trapezitsa Hill (fig. 4).
The tower has an irregular T-shape and protrudes
to the south. It has a maximum length of 41.30
meters and a maximum width of 26.50 meters;
the built area is 583 square meters (figs. 5 and 6).
The construction of the tower consists of rubble
masonry, white mortar, emplectum, and horizontal
leveling beams (figs. 7-9). Its preserved height is
from 0.50 to 4.20 meters and the preserved width
of the walls is from 1.80 to 4.20 meters. The
tower abuts the western and the eastern curtain
walls. Some of its walls were increased in height
by stones set in mud.
The North Tower has three rooms. Room
1 (area 75 m2) covers the central and the north
part of the tower (figs. 3 1 and 8 3, 4). Its north
terminal is a massive staircase (fig. 8 2) and within
the south wall is the entrance to room 3 (fig. 8 4).
The natural rock serves as a floor surface overlaid
with mortar. Sometime later, the north part of
room 1 was blocked and in the eastern part a new
staircase was built (figs. 3 6 and 8 3). There are
three holes for pillars to support the ceiling (fig.
3 7) and a rubbish pit cut into the floor (fig. 3 11).
The west part of the room was divided into three
small rooms (fig. 3 8-10). A hearth was also built
(fig. 3 12).
Room 2 (fig. 3 2) has an area of 55 square
meters (fig. 9 1-2). Its north wall has a gate (0.85
meter width and 2 meters height) that served as

66

an exit from the fortress (figs. 3 5 and 8 1). A


pavement and three steps of a staircase were found
from the inside of the gate (fig. 3 13). Several
rows of stones and blocks set in mud were found
along the eastern and western walls of rooms 1
and 2. Room 3 (figs. 3 3 and 9 4) (area 42 m2)
has a floor plastered with mortar over which two
hearths were found (fig. 3 14). The main entrance
to the tower, equipped with a massive staircase
(figs. 3 4, 7 3, 9 3), is 1 meter in width and is
located in the east wall of room 3.
The interior of the North Tower was filled
with rubble as a result of its destruction.
Fragments of medieval coarse ware and sgraffito
pottery (13th - 14th century AD), animal bones,
everyday utensils and coins from the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries were found in the fill.
The North Gate of the fortress was one meter
south of the tower and abuts the west wall of
the tower (fig. 3 15). Due to the high degree of
destruction, it was not possible to find the gate
itself. It was 2.50 meters wide with no overlooking
tower and it was set within the west curtain wall.
It also had a double door. On the west slope of the
Trapezitsa Hill, there are remains of a road cut
into the hillside that led to the North Gate.
First building period, phase 1 (figs. 10 1-3
and 11 1, 3, 4). The North Tower was built in the
early thirteenth century, together with the east
and the west curtain walls and the North Gate.
During phase 2 (mid-13th early 14th century)
(fig. 10 4, 5, fig. 11 2), a new staircase was
built in room 1 together with a reconstruction
of its western part that was divided into 3 small
rooms. After the mid-14th century, the north
transverse curtain-wall was built onto the tower
in order to defend the lower town located in the
east foothill of Trapezitsa. During the second
building period (late 14th century) (fig. 10
6), the tower and the eastern curtain wall were
rebuilt and this time mud was used as mortar.
The rubbish pit and the hearths in rooms 1 and
3 also date to this period. The North Gate was
blocked. The tower fell out of use towards the
late fourteenth or in the very beginning of the
fifteenth century.

The entirely identified plan of the tower


together with the preserved examples of 12th
- 14th century defensive towers in Bulgaria
facilitate the reconstruction of the North Tower
(fig. 11 4). It had at least three levels. There was a
specially designed ground floor in its eastern part,
in which the north entrance was placed (fig. 10
1). The height of the first level was no less than
4.50 meters (fig. 11 1). The stone staircase giving
access to the upper levels was built in the north
part of room 1 (figs. 10 2 and 11 1, 3). At each
level, the tower was connected to the walkways
of the west and east curtain walls. A tiled roof
and defensive platform with crenellations formed
the top of the tower. The three levels add to the
total height of the tower of 15 meters including
crenellations, 18 meters with the roof and up to

25 meters in its eastern part (fig. 11 4).


The function of the North Tower was to defend
the North Gate and the road leading from the
foothills to the gate. The substantial height of the
tower, its large habitation area, its strategic position
on the top of the hill, the defensive function in
respect to the North Gate and the presence of a
road leading to the gate suggest that a part of the
capitals garrison was located in the tower (fig. 4).
It is plausible that some administrative premises
were also located in the tower.
The North Tower, North Gate and the transverse
north curtain wall built later to defend the lower
town form a powerful fortification complex that
protected the entire north sector of the medieval
fortress on the Trapezitsa Hill in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries.

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