- Amanda Sumner
On the left bank of the Mēmele River, in Ceraukste municipality, in the fields of Aužeļi and Turki homesteads, we see an artificial mound, named “Pilskalns” (“Hillfort”). Indeed, this is a typical hillfort, constructed on a headland, which has formed between a ravine of a brook and the steep bank of the Mēmele. The headland is separated from the flat field to the north by a ditch, which is currently 2 m deep, and a 4 m high earthwork. The southern side of the earthwork slopes gently onto the hilltop. The hilltop is triangular and surrounded by steep slopes.
The Kurzeme – Kaunas governorate border used to pass across the hillfort. The current border with Lithuania is several kilometres south of it.
The hillfort has a black cultural layer, containing charcoal, burnt clay, and pottery sherds. A World War I German trench follows the Mēmele side of the hill. It is a remnant of the German army fortifications during the occupation of Zemgale in 1916. The hilltop has been dug across with trenches in two places. The northern side of the earthwork has also been damaged during the war. Otherwise, this hillfort is well-preserved and is considered one of the most picturesque hillforts of Zemgale.
There is no information on whether the hillfort played any role in the freedom wars of Zemgale. This hillfort has been described by J. Döring in 1876 and 1882 (Kurl. Sitzungsberichte 1876) and excavated by Baron von Drachenfels in 1883 (Kurl. S. b. 1883) who found a large amount of charcoal, animal bones, a small sickle, and several Polish coins dating to 1621. The excavation account concludes that the sickle and the coins are a later intrusion into the cultural layer. Arbusow thinks that this hillfort corresponds to the “Nogaylen” castle district, mentioned in a 1416 text (Kurl. S. b. 1895).
It is an acceptable hypothesis that this hillfort and the Kamārde hillfort were built to protect the borders of Mežotne against Lithuanians because all three hillforts contain contemporary cultural layers. As mentioned previously, the ancient boundary of Zemgale also leads from here in a straight line to the Kamārde hillfort.
Brastiņš, E. Latvijas pilskalni. Vol. 2, Zemgale un Augšzeme. Riga, 1926.