Hillforts in the Eyes of Residents

  • Arvydas Malonaitis
Keywords: hillfort, a survey, respondent, survey data, residents’ attitude


The article presents a summary of the findings from a residents’ survey conducted by the students of the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (former Vilnius Pedagogical University) from 2007 to 2010 as part of their fieldwork practice in regional studies. Based on the data of 74 questionnaires, the article discusses the information that the residents have about hillforts in general and their relationship with the specific hillfort in their immediate environment. The survey was based on the following principles: (1) to be eligible for the survey, residents must have lived in the environment of a hillfort for a longer proportion of their life or must still live in the area of the hillfort, i.e., the hillfort must be constantly in a resident’s field of vision, (2) residents have to be at least 50 years of age at the time of the survey, (3) former or present history teachers cannot take part in the survey, (4) the hillfort in the area the respondents of which are sought has to be sufficiently beautiful and easily recognisable, and (5) hillforts located in an urban area are excluded from the survey. The questionnaire was developed with reference to the current recommendations for survey methodology. It included a total of 70 questions covering various aspects starting from the information about the hillfort and its environment, and childhood memories, and ending with the current relationship with it. Considering the age group of the respondents, all questions were open-ended, and interviewing took place in the form of a conversation. In terms of gender, most respondents were women (58, or 78.4%), whereas men comprised about one-fifth of the respondents (16, or 21.6%). As regards age, residents born between 1931 and 1940 made up the majority of the respondents (31.4%), with six men and 25 women among them. Twelve questions were used to highlight the information about hillforts. The majority of the respondents were fairly well aware of the origin and purpose of hillforts; they knew a lot of hillforts and visited some of them; some were interested in the issues of hillfort origin and read something about it. Fourteen questions were used to identify the relationship with “one’s own” hillfort. Despite the fact that the majority of the respondents viewed the hillfort as a witness of the past, they first of all saw it through their emotional and family prism. The majority of the residents were satisfied with the neighbourhood of a hillfort, which had become an indispensable part of their life and a very strong centre of attraction. The survey pinpointed yet another aspect – the attitude towards a hillfort as a witness of the fights of the past. Although the respondents were not asked about it, this aspect stood out in their answers about the definition of a hillfort, its purpose, the period of its origin, function, its name, legends and stories told by parents and teachers, and its peculiar features.