Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti
EXCAVATIONS ON THE BISHOP’S RESIDENCE FROM THE EARLY OTTOMAN PERIOD IN CHERVEN

(Summary)

The overall research of the architecture complex of the Bishop of Cherven from the Early Ottoman period was completed in 2006. The excavations were directed towards the revealing of the southwestern surrounding wall of the complex, to its connections with the neighbouring walls, as well as to the studying of the territory between them and Church 11.
It was settled that the terrain has two levels, well determined by the decrease of the rock base. The higher one (with 0,7 – 0,9 m) is formed by a rock ground with size of 6/5 m in front of the western entrance of Church 11. The unevenness of the rock base there is leveled with a stone blockage, which because of the decrease of the ground to north and west is limited by a low support wall. Within the rock base next to the western wall of the church and in front of its western entrance were revealed four rock-hewn burial chambers. The northern two were probably a family vault. The type of the chambers is identical with the ones revealed near the northern wall and inside the church. Their content of mixed human bones of different individuals shows that they have been reused more than once and during the time when after the complex was abandoned a necropolis was formed here. An in situ burial of a middle-aged man without burial inventory was discovered only in chamber 3. In the fill of the site there were spherical buttons from older burials, as well as a skull with a mark on the forehead from a copper or bronze adornment. Another skull had a hole made of a gun-shot.
The lower level is taken by the western and northwestern part of the surrounded territory. It covered a wide yard, whose walking level was made of a leveled rock or stone surface over the lower levels, filled with blockage and mud. In the rock there are round and rectangular holes for vertical supports or technological facilities from earlier periods.
The revealed southwestern surrounding wall of the complex has the same characteristic features like the northern and southern ones. It has a length of 12 m and was made of bad-quality crushed stones with mud joint. It is based shallowly in an embankment which contains materials from the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12th-14th century) and is preserved only in separate sections with height of one row of stones. In its southern end the wall is discontinued and its connection with the southern surrounding wall cannot be revealed. The entrance of the complex was probably located in this corner, because on this place the complex is bordering the main street of Cherven, whose level here is the same as that of the yard surface.
The discovered finds (fragments of ceramic vessels, of candlesticks, bronze relief application with a depiction of Virgin Mary Hodegetria, a tile with an incised cross and an inscription IC—XC/ NI-KA, a gem of semi-transparent stone, coins, etc.) again confirm that this territory has been inhabited since the Bronze Age up to the Early Ottoman period, when the Bishop’s Residence existed here. The archaeological situation shows that it has been destroyed by fire, probably during the campaigns of the Wallachian voivode Mihai Viteazul to the south of the river Danube in the end of the 16th century.

Stoyan Yordanov