Krakus Mound, located on the Lasota Hill in the Podgórze district of Krakow, is a tumulus assumed to be the resting place of the legendary prince Krakus. It is situated approximately 3 kilometres south of the city centre, with the base diameter of 60 metres and the height of 16 metres. The age and the original purpose of the mound remain a mystery.
Excavations conducted in mid 1930s revealed that the mound consists of a solid wooden core covered with soil and turf. Some artefacts dating from between the 8th and 10th centuries were found inside, but no human remains were discovered. According to another hypothesis, the mound is of Celtic origin and dates from the 2nd-1st century BCE.
Archaeological excavations that were carried out here between 1934 and 1937 included the examination of the immediate neighbourhood and digging a shaft tapering down from the top to the base. Traces of settlement from the late Lusatian culture were found. It is presumed that they got there at the time of mound’s construction, which supports the assumption that the mound was created not before than about 500 BC.
In the upper part of the mound roots of a massive oak tree were discovered. Its age was estimated at about 300 years. The tree, as an object of pagan worship, might have been cut down upon the introduction of Christianity in the 9th or 10th century. This in turn leads to the belief that the mound was erected in the period between the 6th and 8th century.
On the other hand, the practice of raising mounds for burial purposes was frequent during the Stone Age. In large parts of Europe burial mounds resembling the shape and location of the Krakus Mound have survived. Generally, the burial function of the mound, despite the lack of archaeological confirmation, is very likely. It might have also been used as a cultic place, or both.
There is also a theory linking the creation of mounds (Krakus’ and Wanda’s) with Celtic presence in the area. Celtic mounds played an important cultic role, as could be the case here. It has been observed that the azimuth connecting the two mounds is consistent with the azimuth of sunrise on May 1. A similar correspondence was found between two mounds near Przemyśl, except that they relate to the position of the sun on November 1. In the Celtic calendar, these were important holidays marking the transition between the two halves of the year. If this is not a coincidence, it could indicate a role of the Krakus Mound as an astronomical observatory, or even as a type of calendar.
Krakus, or Krak or was a legendary Polish prince and founder of Krakow, the ruler of the tribe of Lechitians. The first recorded mention of Krakus appears in “Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae” from 1190. Krakus is also credited with building the Wawel Castle and said to have defeated armies of the Roman Empire attacking from the south.
According to chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek whose testimony is the earliest, allegedly Krakus was one of the princes, or governors of Poles fighting with Gauls in Pannonia or Carinthia. After his return to the Polish land, he was elected king and laid the foundations of the Polish state.
He had two sons (Krak II and Lech II) and one daughter. According to some narratives, his sons killed the dangerous Wawel dragon. In the same story, one of them killed the other after defeating the dragon. Another legend says that Krakus himself killed the dragon. His daughter Wanda became the subject of legend too.
The Legend of Krakus is a bit like the story of the Czech Krok, and the motif of fighting with a dragon was probably taken from the legend of Saint George, although it is known to be the oldest of Polish legends and contains traces of 7th- and 8th-century events.