What old tombs with unusually long bones are talking about

We return to the story of Orašani near Sokolski krši, where another Crnojević church with masonry pillars in front of the entrance was hidden in the hamlet of Selište for five and a half centuries.

After visiting the remains of the village and the church with Vlado Mitrov Radovic, I head back to Dardaza. From there we continue downhill on a macadam road, next to the valley, towards the lower part of Orašan, about a kilometer and a half away.

Prni Dolovi and Kucumecelj

That part is much more spacious than Seliste. Prni Dolovi spreads here, a larger valley surrounded by rocky hills. It is about two hundred meters long. In its center rises a hill with an unusual name – Kucumecelj.

It is just one of the more enigmatic toponyms in this area. Like Drtegljat (hills), Frndula, Trzikeć and Sakurkut (settlements). Prne Dolove is surrounded by a macadam road on three sides.

On the rocky sides, at a slightly higher height, housings can be seen. We take the road towards the west side, towards the lower hill which was well pressed by the forest and bushes. There, under the Loken Cave, are the remains of an ancient church “for which it is not known who built it”.

This is the place of worship that we have already mentioned – in the vicinity of which 60-65 years ago there was a skeleton with unusually long bones, which Vlado attended as a “little boy”.

He deposits earth over a tomb with unusually “long bones” in Prni dolovi

Dry border church

We break through about twenty meters through the bushes and come across a white tombstone. There is little to see from the accumulated leaves. The remains of the church are in the immediate vicinity. It has been dismantled almost to the ground.

These insignificant remains have long been captured by thickets, so it is practically impossible to approach them. But, it is clear that this is a dry-stone building and that it is very old. Not far from it rises a large cer.

Around-around and somehow I reach the wall, which is made of two rows of blocks and a trpan in the middle. It is about 90 cm wide. The church was seven meters long and four meters wide.

I’m trying to find out if there are apses in the east. This is not easy to do due to the very dense shrubs. Yet I make my way just above where the altar should be.

As if out of spite, the wall was demolished in that part. But it is obvious that the collapsed stone does not come from the apse, but from the wall. There is every chance that the apse did not even exist and that the wall on that eastern side went straight – as is the case with the adjacent churches in Gospoštine, Podsokol and Ploča at the foot of Debeljak, which we visited earlier.

After this I go to the west side of the church to see what the situation is there. I come across a rather thick layer of leaves, but the remains of the walls can still be seen. Everything indicates that the entrance was from the west.

An intriguing detail

Vlado is constantly trying to find the place where the tomb where long bones were found was located six decades ago, but he can’t do it because of the thick layer of leaves and earth.

Finally, the tip of the kosier reveals the position of the plate, so it removes part of the coating. In doing so, he repeats the story of the “colossus” that rested there. It is obvious that he cares very much to substantiate this with material evidence, but I stop him and say that it is not necessary and that it is not our job.

After that, he gives up – and suddenly adds that these “deceased were buried in reverse” – with his head turned to the east? Because of this strange news, I return to the remains of the church and look around the west side again.

With a piece of wood, I unravel the leaves in the middle of the west side and conclude again that it was entered from there. Because of that, the detail with burying in the opposite direction becomes even more enigmatic to me.

In 1523, the Turkish enumerator recorded the names Bojko, Božidar, Radonja, Vuksan, Radič, Novak, Brajko, Lazar, Stefan, Nikola, Martin, Radolica, Radičko and Ratko in the Kosier “hamlet of Radilevići”. A similar situation was in the “hamlet” Mikulići where the names Ilija, Nikolica, Vučko, priest Dabiziv, priest Đurđe, Radič, Petrija, Radonja, Vuksan, Živko, Nikola, Vukašin and Jovan were recorded.

Thus, the names of the villagers in 1523 were typical Montenegrin, except that one “Bretalj (?) Đon” was written in “Radilevici a”.

Puzzle

But, the defter can’t help us much on this issue, because it talks about the situation from the beginning of the 16th century – so to speak “from yesterday”. While the tomb and the church date from a much older age.

So, who could be this ancient inhabitant who was buried “in reverse”? And was it really an east-west direction? Or will it be more north-south?

Because, in the wider environment, there are a lot of ancient graves in which the deceased were laid in a north-south direction. By the way, these areas are very characteristic for many names with the ending “aza”, such as the mentioned “U ćeraza” and “Dardaza”, which also originates from a very distant time.

If someone expects an answer to the “big secret” based on this, I will have to disappoint him. This should not be mystified in any way, because there is not necessarily a connection between “deceased” and old names.

Which, again, doesn’t mean she’s gone. After all, it is not just written in the Cetinje Chronicle that Montenegro is “one general assembly of the people”.

Precision

As for the large bones that were found near the church in Orašani, not far from Lokenska Cave, I must mention a detail that I found out later in contact with the two Radovićs for the sake of precision. First, Rajko Radović drew my attention to the fact that the bone from the “colossus” on his shin was actually “measured” by Periša Rajković.

Then Ljubo Radović called me from Rijeka Fiume with some more information about that event. – Our elders talked about how a group of students from the then teacher’s school, some of whom may have already been teachers, opened one of the existing tombs in the presence of some older people.

The so-called pipe bone of the deceased was compared to his leg by Periša Rajković, who was also a tall man. The tomb was opened by Dušan Radović (Vlad’s brother), Periša’s son Radovan and Periša himself, and allegedly several others were present, says Ljubo Radović.

Another case

So, then, is this strange story. But that’s not the end of the stories about the “long hair team”, because this is the right moment to look back at another episode. I heard a very similar story from Desanka Petričević from Vlainja in Meterizi, as well as from Uroš Janković from Češljar.

It is tied to the tomb next to the church in Donji Peleši. Desanka recounts that around 1950 she often listened to the stories of old people on the sidewalks about very long bones found in the graves around the mentioned church.

Tombstones next to the church in Donji Peleši

This detail is related to the event from 1925, when Vido Savov Vujanović, while he was still a boy, found a bronze cross next to the skeleton in a tomb. After that, he took the relic to the house of Stanko Mitrov Jovićević, the father of priest Ilija Jovićević and Dr. Ivo Jovićević.

The presence of a cross in the tomb indicated that a priest could rest there. Anyway, this was very intriguing, so more people went to the church and the tomb to see everything up close.

When they climbed the rocky hill on which the remains of the church stand, they found that the bones of the deceased were unusually large. Uroš says that Stanko M. Jovićević then compared the tibia with his own and found that the deceased’s bone was much longer.

That is the story of this unusual story, which was often told at village gatherings.

The case in Štitari

This is not the end of the stories about “long costumes”. I recently found out about another similar “osteological case” in Štitari.

I headed to that village to see the village church on the hill and check to see if there might be traces of masonry pillars in front of it. Because, Štitari is also a part of the chain of old settlements in which, in Stefanič’s time, in the middle of the 15th century, such a facility could have existed.

However, the church of Štitar was renovated in the 18th century on the foundations of the old temple, and it was significantly extended, so that the remains of the masonry pillars, if there were any, had to disappear.

The dimensions of the original church were clearly visible from the altar side, above the apse. The building has been extended to a height of some half a meter, as is the case with many other churches.

After reviewing this in detail, I went back and found my friend Đuro Čičarević passing through the village, sitting in front of the house.

We met last year when I visited Sokolske krše and Sokol. – Where are you, Djuro, do you remember me? – Oh, where are you! Come on!

Yellow as wax

Through a conversation on the terrace with a beautiful view, I tell Đuro why I was at the church, so I touch on the church in Donji Peleši.

Church on the hill in Donji Peleši in Dobrska Župa

At one point I mention a tomb with unusually long bones that were found there around 1925. Đuro immediately starts the story of the case that happened near the church in Štitar almost four decades ago.

It happened around 1977/78. when he and his brother Luka built a family tomb on the north side of the church, in a clearing, in the direction of the hill. He says that at a depth of about 1.5 meters they came across a rock “that needs to be passed”.

As they were excavating it, they bumped into the tomb between two rocks – without any slab. The skeleton was in “buhavica” – black dry earth. Đuro says that the bones were very well preserved and “yellow as wax”.

The most intriguing part is yet to come, for the deceased was laid in a north-south direction, with his head facing north, while the size of the bones was remarkable.

Đuro says that they “did not measure” the length of the skeleton, but that “it seems to him, according to estimates, that he must have been two meters”. I noticed that he said this with a certain caution, so I asked him – would he say that the deceased was taller? – By God, I would, because I have never seen such lengths “, replied Đuro.

Osteološka puzzle

We seem to have moved away from the story of the people of Orašje, but all this is in the function of clarifying the old “osteological” enigma, which has been waiting for almost a century for a scientific explanation.

Therefore, we will deal with those stories a little more, and then we will continue the report on hanging out with Vlado Mitrov Radović.

(Twenty-fifth sequel in next Sunday’s issue)

We return to the story of Orašani near Sokolski krši, where another Crnojević church with masonry pillars in front of the entrance was hidden in the hamlet of Selište for five and a half centuries.

After visiting the remains of the village and the church with Vlado Mitrov Radovic, I head back to Dardaza. From there we continue downhill on a macadam road, next to the valley, towards the lower part of Orašan, about a kilometer and a half away.

Prni Dolovi and Kucumecelj

That part is much more spacious than Seliste. Prni Dolovi spreads here, a larger valley surrounded by rocky hills. It is about two hundred meters long. In its center rises a hill with an unusual name – Kucumecelj.

It is just one of the more enigmatic toponyms in this area. Like Drtegljat (hills), Frndula, Trzikeć and Sakurkut (settlements). Prne Dolove is surrounded by a macadam road on three sides.

On the rocky sides, at a slightly higher height, housings can be seen. We take the road towards the west side, towards the lower hill which was well pressed by the forest and bushes. There, under the Loken Cave, are the remains of an ancient church “for which it is not known who built it”.

This is the place of worship that we have already mentioned – in the vicinity of which 60-65 years ago there was a skeleton with unusually long bones, which Vlado attended as a “little boy”.

He deposits earth over a tomb with unusually “long bones” in Prni dolovi

Dry border church

We break through about twenty meters through the bushes and come across a white tombstone. There is little to see from the accumulated leaves. The remains of the church are in the immediate vicinity. It has been dismantled almost to the ground.

These insignificant remains have long been captured by thickets, so it is practically impossible to approach them. But, it is clear that this is a dry-stone building and that it is very old. Not far from it rises a large cer.

Around-around and somehow I reach the wall, which is made of two rows of blocks and a trpan in the middle. It is about 90 cm wide. The church was seven meters long and four meters wide.

I’m trying to find out if there are apses in the east. This is not easy to do due to the very dense shrubs. Yet I make my way just above where the altar should be.

As if out of spite, the wall was demolished in that part. But it is obvious that the collapsed stone does not come from the apse, but from the wall. There is every chance that the apse did not even exist and that the wall on that eastern side went straight – as is the case with the adjacent churches in Gospoštine, Podsokol and Ploča at the foot of Debeljak, which we visited earlier.

After this I go to the west side of the church to see what the situation is there. I come across a rather thick layer of leaves, but the remains of the walls can still be seen. Everything indicates that the entrance was from the west.

An intriguing detail

Vlado is constantly trying to find the place where the tomb where long bones were found was located six decades ago, but he can’t do it because of the thick layer of leaves and earth.

Finally, the tip of the kosier reveals the position of the plate, so it removes part of the coating. In doing so, he repeats the story of the “colossus” that rested there. It is obvious that he cares very much to substantiate this with material evidence, but I stop him and say that it is not necessary and that it is not our job.

After that, he gives up – and suddenly adds that these “deceased were buried in reverse” – with his head turned to the east? Because of this strange news, I return to the remains of the church and look around the west side again.

With a piece of wood, I unravel the leaves in the middle of the west side and conclude again that it was entered from there. Because of that, the detail with burying in the opposite direction becomes even more enigmatic to me.

In 1523, the Turkish enumerator recorded the names Bojko, Božidar, Radonja, Vuksan, Radič, Novak, Brajko, Lazar, Stefan, Nikola, Martin, Radolica, Radičko and Ratko in the Kosier “hamlet of Radilevići”. A similar situation was in the “hamlet” Mikulići where the names Ilija, Nikolica, Vučko, priest Dabiziv, priest Đurđe, Radič, Petrija, Radonja, Vuksan, Živko, Nikola, Vukašin and Jovan were recorded.

Thus, the names of the villagers in 1523 were typical Montenegrin, except that one “Bretalj (?) Đon” was written in “Radilevici a”.

Puzzle

But, the defter can’t help us much on this issue, because it talks about the situation from the beginning of the 16th century – so to speak “from yesterday”. While the tomb and the church date from a much older age.

So, who could be this ancient inhabitant who was buried “in reverse”? And was it really an east-west direction? Or will it be more north-south?

Because, in the wider environment, there are a lot of ancient graves in which the deceased were laid in a north-south direction. By the way, these areas are very characteristic for many names with the ending “aza”, such as the mentioned “U ćeraza” and “Dardaza”, which also originates from a very distant time.

If someone expects an answer to the “big secret” based on this, I will have to disappoint him. This should not be mystified in any way, because there is not necessarily a connection between “deceased” and old names.

Which, again, doesn’t mean she’s gone. After all, it is not just written in the Cetinje Chronicle that Montenegro is “one general assembly of the people”.

Precision

As for the large bones that were found near the church in Orašani, not far from Lokenska Cave, I must mention a detail that I found out later in contact with the two Radovićs for the sake of precision. First, Rajko Radović drew my attention to the fact that the bone from the “colossus” on his shin was actually “measured” by Periša Rajković.

Then Ljubo Radović called me from Rijeka Fiume with some more information about that event. – Our elders talked about how a group of students from the then teacher’s school, some of whom may have already been teachers, opened one of the existing tombs in the presence of some older people.

The so-called pipe bone of the deceased was compared to his leg by Periša Rajković, who was also a tall man. The tomb was opened by Dušan Radović (Vlad’s brother), Periša’s son Radovan and Periša himself, and allegedly several others were present, says Ljubo Radović.

Another case

So, then, is this strange story. But that’s not the end of the stories about the “long hair team”, because this is the right moment to look back at another episode. I heard a very similar story from Desanka Petričević from Vlainja in Meterizi, as well as from Uroš Janković from Češljar.

It is tied to the tomb next to the church in Donji Peleši. Desanka recounts that around 1950 she often listened to the stories of old people on the sidewalks about very long bones found in the graves around the mentioned church.

Tombstones next to the church in Donji Peleši

This detail is related to the event from 1925, when Vido Savov Vujanović, while he was still a boy, found a bronze cross next to the skeleton in a tomb. After that, he took the relic to the house of Stanko Mitrov Jovićević, the father of priest Ilija Jovićević and Dr. Ivo Jovićević.

The presence of a cross in the tomb indicated that a priest could rest there. Anyway, this was very intriguing, so more people went to the church and the tomb to see everything up close.

When they climbed the rocky hill on which the remains of the church stand, they found that the bones of the deceased were unusually large. Uroš says that Stanko M. Jovićević then compared the tibia with his own and found that the deceased’s bone was much longer.

That is the story of this unusual story, which was often told at village gatherings.

The case in Štitari

This is not the end of the stories about “long costumes”. I recently found out about another similar “osteological case” in Štitari.

I headed to that village to see the village church on the hill and check to see if there might be traces of masonry pillars in front of it. Because, Štitari is also a part of the chain of old settlements in which, in Stefanič’s time, in the middle of the 15th century, such a facility could have existed.

However, the church of Štitar was renovated in the 18th century on the foundations of the old temple, and it was significantly extended, so that the remains of the masonry pillars, if there were any, had to disappear.

The dimensions of the original church were clearly visible from the altar side, above the apse. The building has been extended to a height of some half a meter, as is the case with many other churches.

After reviewing this in detail, I went back and found my friend Đuro Čičarević passing through the village, sitting in front of the house.

We met last year when I visited Sokolske krše and Sokol. – Where are you, Djuro, do you remember me? – Oh, where are you! Come on!

Yellow as wax

Through a conversation on the terrace with a beautiful view, I tell Đuro why I was at the church, so I touch on the church in Donji Peleši.

Church on the hill in Donji Peleši in Dobrska Župa

At one point I mention a tomb with unusually long bones that were found there around 1925. Đuro immediately starts the story of the case that happened near the church in Štitar almost four decades ago.

It happened around 1977/78. when he and his brother Luka built a family tomb on the north side of the church, in a clearing, in the direction of the hill. He says that at a depth of about 1.5 meters they came across a rock “that needs to be passed”.

As they were excavating it, they bumped into the tomb between two rocks – without any slab. The skeleton was in “buhavica” – black dry earth. Đuro says that the bones were very well preserved and “yellow as wax”.

The most intriguing part is yet to come, for the deceased was laid in a north-south direction, with his head facing north, while the size of the bones was remarkable.

Đuro says that they “did not measure” the length of the skeleton, but that “it seems to him, according to estimates, that he must have been two meters”. I noticed that he said this with a certain caution, so I asked him – would he say that the deceased was taller? – By God, I would, because I have never seen such lengths “, replied Đuro.

Osteološka puzzle

We seem to have moved away from the story of the people of Orašje, but all this is in the function of clarifying the old “osteological” enigma, which has been waiting for almost a century for a scientific explanation.

Therefore, we will deal with those stories a little more, and then we will continue the report on hanging out with Vlado Mitrov Radović.

(Twenty-fifth sequel in next Sunday’s issue)