The real ancient capital of Russia was not Kiev or Novgorod, but a city near Lake Ladoga called Ladoga. According to researchers Ladoga grave “prophetic Oleg” – Prince of Novgorod and Kiev, located on the banks of the Volkhov river near the entrance to “Staraya Ladoga”. It is here that there is a 30-meter mound, which is called “Oleg’s Grave”. According to local beliefs, an ancient underground passage from the catacombs leads inside the mound.
That is why the Old Ladoga, founded next to the ancient settlement, has been undergoing constant archaeological work for 2 centuries. But, since the XIX century, historians have known that just a few kilometers from the ancient capital near the mouth of the Volkhov there was an ancient fortress.
Until recently, it was completely destroyed during the Great Patriotic War and during the Soviet era. To the amazement of archaeologists, the cultural layer of the ancient settlement was discovered during excavations in 1997. Scientists managed not only to discover the remains of the fortress, but also to make a sensational discovery that radically changed the idea of the ancient history of Russia.
It turned out that the old Russian state arose much earlier than the officially recognized one in the IX century, since Lyubsha was built at least a century earlier according to the results of carbon analysis. The Lyubsha fortress was built at the beginning of the VIII century, and a few years earlier than the year of the foundation of Ladoga. It remained only to understand who exactly and how the fortress was built on the shore of Lake Ladoga.
Since 1997, permanent archaeological excavations have been carried out with the help of voluntary donations. Many amazing discoveries have been made on the site of the most ancient Russian fortress. There are many questions that are still difficult to find answers to.
Excavations have shown that there was once a wooden prison on the site of Volkhov, built by the Finno-Ugric tribes who settled here for a long time. And in the VIII century, a stone-earth fortification was built on this land, which the Finno-Ugric people did not know how to build, which means that it was built by the Slavs.
At the beginning of the IX century, the original fortress was replaced by a stone one. And a century later, at the beginning of the tenth century the built fortification has ceased to exist due to natural changes in the terrain. The found fortress was named after the nearby small tributary of the Volkhov Lyubsha.
In the chronicles, Lake Ladoga was called Lake Nebo, or in Finnish “sea”. The ancient name of the lake gave the name of the Neva River flowing from Ladoga. The ancient Scandinavians called the lake in their own way Aldoga, thereby emphasizing the strong waves characteristic of this largest body of water in Europe. Lake Ladoga received its current name only in the XIII century.
The excavations carried out for a long time allowed us to understand the original picture of the development. Lyubsha stood on the shore of the lake on a high hill, one side of which was sloping. The settlement was protected by a rampart about 100 m long, fortified at the base with a tree, and covered with stone on top. The area of the built fortress was about 1500 m. The top of the shaft was cut off and represented a flat area about 3 m wide, on which crates filled with sand and stone were installed. On the outside, the rampart was covered by a small embankment, behind which it was possible to hide from the enemy’s arrows in the defense of the fortress.
In addition to the strengthened structures during the excavations it was discovered many household items, jewelry and so on. Ancient arrows were also found, which led to a new look at the level of development of crafts among the ancient Slavs. The Slavs who lived in the fortress had numerous contacts not only with their nearest neighbors. They communicated with the Baltic peoples or the Volga tribes, and with the eastern lands. However, why the fortress did not grow into a city is not yet known for sure. Researchers based on the analysis of two ancient settlements: Ladoga and Lyubshy-put forward a hypothesis about the change of terrain under Lake Ladoga.
Today, the Lyubsha Fortress rises about 10 m above the lake shore, but this was not always the case. Once it stood exactly on the bank of the Ladoga at the beginning of the Volkhov, blocking the way along the river into the depths of the Slavic lands. Then, as a result of the movements of the earth’s crust, Lake Ladoga sank several meters at once and the fortress was on top of a hill, as a result of which it lost both its functionality and the harbor that was quite convenient and necessary for conducting trade. But there was such a harbor on the Volkhov just 2 versts from the mouth of the river, where a new city was built, called the lake.
In the first third of the IX century, the Slavic lands were attacked by the Swedes, who also took the fortress. Since there was a fire here. But the locals, united with neighboring Finno-Ugric tribes and fraternal Slavs, managed to expel the Vikings from their native land. However, when the external enemy that united the Slavs was destroyed, internal strife began, and Rurik was called to overcome it. He re-built the Poconos, but became unnecessary Lyubsha fortress to re-build did not. So the fortress of Lyubsha began to gradually collapse.
Today, the destruction of the fortress is completed by soil erosion, lack of money and lack of attention to this unique monument of ancient Slavic culture. However, today’s Russians have a unique opportunity to see their history firsthand, for which it is enough to go to the shore of Lake Ladoga, to the ancient Volkhov River.