Hillforts - Castellieri - Gradine

View of Kunci Hillfort as seen from Labin (Albona)

Kunci (Cunzi) Hillfort

Latitude: 45.098690N  Longitude: 14.137700E

The Bronze Age hillfort of Kunci (Cunzi) Hillfort is extant near the town of Labin (Albona) which was once also a hillfort. The area was settled by Liburnian Illyrians who were unique for being semi-matriarchal and having only female godesses. This area marks the beginning of the territory of the Liburni tribe of the Illyrians. The Bronze Age Hillfort was abandoned around the Iron Age.

The hillfort consists of an approximately 2 meter thick inner wall of loose stone in a 200 meter diameter semi-circular shape in front of a steep cliff and at an altitude of 330 meters. The wall has two zig-zag entrances. There is also a smaller outer wall.

One entrance has been clearly identified. Another entrance was cut in recent times and local youths use the inside perimeter for drag racing with old Serbian-built Fiats. The Croatian archeologist Boris Bačić researched the entrances in the 1960's, but the rest has not been formally explored.

There originally was also a tumulus, which is now lost. During World War II, the Partisans damaged it by building shelters in the wall.


  • Text and photos - © Alex Hunger for The Megalithic Portal - All copyrights reserved. To see the full-size images, go to http://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=a312&file=index&do=showpic&pid=13792

Gradina Kunci: Prolozi pznavanju gradinskih naselja Istre
The Hill Fort of Kunci - Contributions to the Knowledge of Istrian Hill Forts)
by Vedran Kos


According to available information, there are three phases of the settlement process during the Bronze Age that can be distinguished at the hill fort of Kunci. The arrival of the settlers at the site and the founding of the settlement constitute the first phase. The building of the defensive walls mark the second phase, while the characteristics of the third phase are the reinforcement of the entrances and the walls (Baćić 1970, 218 - 219), which may have been caused by the Aegean migrations. The establishment of the hill-fort settlements in Istria is generally dated to the end of the early Bronze Age, or to Phase A2 according to the Central European chronology. According to the chronology by Čović, the period would correspond to Istra II Period (Čović 1983, 117) or to Layer IV of Gradac-Turan settlement (Mihovilić 1997, 43). Among the published ceramic finds only two fragments can be dated to this period1, a foot of a tripod and a fragment of a rim of a bowl with a thickening on the inside. However, the latest research addressing deeper layers has brought to light a large number of knee-shaped and X-shaped handles typical of the period in which the hill forts were established (Hänsel, Mihovilić, Teržan 1997, 83 - 85).2 The settlement lived its most intense colonization period in the course of Istra III Period (Phase B2 and Phase C). It is difficult to determine the period of abandonment of the settlement. The latest information indicates that it was still inhabited in the Iron Age, as testified by an iron fibula discovered in Layer 1 in the course of the latest research (Kos 2006, 64 - 68) 3. I hope that further research, which is under way, will bring about solutions to all the dilemmas regarding the hill fort of Kunci.

[Full article in Hrvatski at: http://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&id_clanak_jezik=64149]

Media articles:

In parts, the wall stands over two meters tall, while it has collapsed into loose stones in most areas.
This is the smaller outer wall, 20 meters further out from the main wall.
The original main entrance, which also had a zig-zag shape to foil would-be attackers. The main gate is seen from above with a good stretch of wall in the rear.
In parts, the wall stands over two meters tall, while it has collapsed into loose stones in most areas. The maquis permeates the landscape, but frequent foot travel would have kept the gate clear.

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Created: Wednesday, Septemer 06, 2006; Last updated: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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