Grobiņa archaeological ensemble is situated in the western part of Latvia, not far from the Baltic Sea and the City of Liepāja, in the territory of Grobiņa town and its vicinity. In the first millennium AD Grobiņa became a centre of the West Baltic tribe Curonians, but in the 7th century Norsemen appeared in Grobiņa. They developed in Grobiņa and its vicinity agrarian and international trade settlements. The Norsemen communicated with local Curonians and established a peculiar form of ethnic symbiosis represented in artefacts, dwelling sites and burials. Up to the 9th century AD an important Norsemen, Viking and Curonian proto-urban settlement existed in Grobiņa. Grobiņa’s position close to the Baltic Sea, along Ālande river, made it an area that was easily accessible by water. Furthermore, the rich soil meant the area was excellently suited for extensive agricultural activities which could sustain a growing population, not only of the local Curonians, but also the new Scandinavian settlers.
The co-existence of Norsemen and local Curonians has been represented in archaeological findings in flat burial sites (Smukumi, Priediens, Atkalni), burial mound sites (Priediens, Pormaļi) and hillfort Skabārža kalns with its settlement. In Priediens burial mound site a picture stone was discovered, which is the only such finding outside the territory of Scandinavia. It is possible that the Norsemen and Vikings are connected with a wider agrarian territory around Grobiņa. Since 1929, archaeological investigations have been performed in Grobiņa.
The present burial grounds occupy a large territory on the outskirts of Grobiņa and form a natural background for Grobiņa as an urban settlement. The burials are situated in the oldest part of the town, where the hillfort and settlement on the banks of Ālande river are also located. The territory of the settlement is partly covered by the buildings of Grobiņa, but other parts are accessible for archaeological excavation and other investigations. Furthermore, natural erosion and continuous agricultural activities have contributed to a levelling of the surface of the burial grounds of Priediens and Atkalni.
Visual material: Juris Urtāns, National Heritage Board of Latvia and Ieva Švarca