Sokolec “Falcon Stone” castle


The castle ruins are situated on the north-western slopes of Krzyżna Mountain, at approximately 630 m above sea level.
The castle’s history is uncertain.

Rather unprofessional research and archaeological documentation from 1904, when this region belonged to Germany, suggested that the site initially held a stronghold which dated from the 8th century, and which was linked to the northern Moravian mini-state of Samo’s Realm or Germanic tribes. Objects found in the castle ruins, such as Franconian spearheads from the period, were given as proof. A later theory, adopted after 1945 (and also undocumented), was that it was an early Slavic stronghold.
Cursory research conducted in 1960 did not resolve the doubts regarding the castle’s origin.
The initiative of establishing a watchtower castle in 1207 is attributed to Duke Henry I the Bearded. There is a castle legend about the Duke finding a hawk’s or falcon’s nest on this spot, thus explaining the genesis of the castle’s name (falcon in Polish is “sokół”, hence Sokolec, and the German name was Falkenberg).


The oldest surviving document, from 1372 (or according to other sources from 1369) lists Clericus Bolz (Bolcze), courtier of duchess Agnes (widow of Duke Bolko II), as the castle’s owner; he probably erected the nearby Bolczów castle. However, other sources described the Falcon Stone castle as being built in 1163-1201 by Duke Bolesław I the Tall to defend nearby homesteads and mines.
From 1406 the castle was the property of Hans von Tschirn (Czetteras) of Płonina.
During the Hussite Wars, the castle became one of their bases. The Falcon Stone castle was then infamous as a nest of robber knights. Hans von Tschirn actively supported the Hussites, but in 1434 apparently changed his views, and having invited two Hussite commanders to Sokolec (including the Czech noble Biedrich ze Straznice) handed them over to the Wrocław bishop and townsmen of Świdnica on the night of 11-12 August 1434. The Hussites are said to have destroyed the castle in retaliation. Hans was a very colourful figure, and together with his son Konrad took part in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, fighting on the side of the Teutonic Knights.
In 1442 the castle was taken over by the knight Konrad von Nimptsch, and after him by his uncle Hans Wiesze. The castle then passed into the hands of his brother, Heinrich. King Matthias Corvinus is said to have ultimately destroyed the castle in 1475, during the battles for the Czech throne with king George of Podebrady.
King Ladislaus Jagiellon leased out the castle property in 1508 as security to Anton Schaffgotsch of Chojnik, making it clear that the castle was already in ruins.
Count von Schaffgotsch bought the entire property in 1604 from the emperor, thus becoming the castle’s owner. For many years to follow the castle was an issue of dispute between von Schaffgotsch and von Kanitz, among other things in regard to the collection of timber from the forest.
Ultimately the castle became part of the Karpniki estate.
In the first half of the 19th century duchess Marianna, wife of Duke William of Prussia, began showing interest in the ruins. She put the neighbouring land to use, and a cross was installed on the rock above the castle, with the inscription:
“The cross’s blessing for William, his descendents, and the entire valley”.
Duchess Marianna ordered the casting of the cross at the Royal Foundry in Gliwice. It weighs 40 hundredweight (i.e. approx. 2 tons), and comprises three parts. The column protrudes 21 feet (about 6.3 metres) above the granite rock which it is deeply set into, while its horizontal bar spans 18 feet (approx. 5.4 m).
A viewpoint was established on the neighbouring rock, while steps were carved up to both points. The ruins then were larger, and even cellars of some kind are described.


In 1904, following archaeological digs, the remaining ruins were cleared of rubble.
Sadly, the site’s significant destruction and absence of field research makes it impossible to determine precisely the spatial planning and functions of the castle buildings. The castle’s builders made interesting use of the natural terrain, and was erected in stone on a quadrilateral plan (approximately 20 by 32 metres) below the hill’s summit, while the rock mass of the mountain’s summit constituted the periphery’s southern curtain. The other sides of the courtyard, covering an area of around 600 m2, were enclosed in a peripheral wall with rounded corners to the north.
Entry into the stronghold was through the western curtain, and was flanked by two small buildings. Whether or not the castle had a tower is unknown. Traces of earthen ramparts can still be seen outside the stronghold’s periphery.
Only certain fragments of the ground floor walls and external earthen ramparts have survived to our times.
Literature:
1. "Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów. Rudawy Janowickie.". Red. M. Staffa. Wyd. I-BIS. Wrocław 1998.
2. Manuscript of Dora Puschmann (née Ende).
3. B. Guerquin. "Zamki w Polsce".


Translation Jonathan Weber