I had been looking at this hill for a while. I spotted it while looking for new places to walk the dogs in and around Perea.
Today I finally got round to scouting it out and it was exactly what I hoped it would be. Ruins of what I have to presume was at one point a fortification/castle overlooking what is now the town of Nea Rysio near Thessaloniki.
There are some clues that there is a structure on the site as you approach it.
The first thing I saw is what looked like the remains of a stone wall built on the limestone pavement which is underneath the top of the hill.
There are many small and medium sized stones scattered around and considering we (me and Cobra) were at the top of the hill, I could only assume that they were not natural and arrived there as the result of human activity at some point in the past.
The weathering of these stones is massive, not unique among stones I have seen next to ruins in the local area but unique in the context of stones found in and around Welsh ruins.
The stones in Nea Rysio display vastly more weathering versus Wales.
Two possibilities with regards to the use of these stones.
-Either the stones were weathered before they were put into the structure or;
-They have become weathered after the structure has broken down.
On reaching the top of the hill I hit the jackpot.
An archaeological dig has been started at numerous places on top of the hill. Given that these dig sites are not seen on Google Maps satellite view I would guess they were started within the last five to seven years and given the condition of the materials covering the dig sites I would guess the last activity at these dig sites was within the last two years.
The dig sites were very well covered and I didn’t want to remove the covers but from what I could see, the stones used in the structures that have been exposed by the dig, did not show the same weathering as the stones scattered around the site on the surface.
This leads me to believe the structures that were here were not made from stones that were already weathered.
I presume the weathering on these stones has occurred after the structure has fallen into ruin which would mean all the weathering has occurred since the structure has fallen into ruin
How long would it take for these stones to be weathered so much?
I have no idea but I am happy to make a guess!
I have experience of exploring castles in Wales and I don’t recall ever seeing stones around Welsh sites with anywhere near the amount of weathering I see on the rocks and stones in Nea Rysio.
Considering how much better the weather is in Greece I would guess that these stones and therefore the structure is much older than a typical castle found in Wales.
If we consider that Carreg Cennen castle in Wales is from 1462, the castle is just over 500 years old.
Looking at the weather in general and rainfall volume, Thessaloniki receives 445mm of rainfall per year, Cardiff receives 991mm of rainfall per year. This would suggest half as much rainfall weathering occurs in Nea Rysio versus Wales which would double the weathering time from rainfall.
Unless the rain in and around Rysio is more acidic than that found in Wales.
To be conservative lets say the rainfall erosion we see in Nea Rysio took four times as long as the erosion we see at a site likes of Carreg Cennen castle.
Half as much rain and twice as much weathering = Rysio being four times older than Carreg Cennen/1462AD.
Aging the Nea Rysio site according to the stone erosion,
Carreg Cennen is 500 years old so conservatively I would say the site at Nea Rysio would have to be at least four times as old or 2000 years old+.
Not A Castle?
Maybe it is possible that these contours show the outline of lime kilns but granted, these kilns would probably be small. The contours are around 2 meters high only.
If these are the outlines of long gone kilns would it mean the site at Nea Rysio is not a castle? Not necessarily but it could mean that the site was an Acropolis and not necessarily only a castle/fortification.
There is also evidence of a track/road at the site, close to where these “kilns”/contours are located.
These roads lead down to the contours/kilns shown above
These roads seem to lead down from the top of the hill here you would imagine the settlement to be located and down to the outlines of what I am presuming are kilns.
Why are there no roads leading lower than the kilns?
Maybe the road did go lower but they have been built over/ploughed up. I don’t think this is likely.
Maybe the entire production of quicklime was consumed by the settlement itself
Maybe the lime was only used to construct the site and then the kilns were no longer used once the settlement was ready to inhabit.
Maybe the roads were used for something else entirely
Whatever the case maybe, the roads/tracks are wide, even by today’s standards which could mean either they were extremely busy or they were used for moving large objects.
The roads/tracks also have a gentle incline which again could mean they were used for transporting large/heavy objects or a shallow incline simply made them easier to use ie where not physically taxing to go up and down.
Or maybe both, the road was busy and it was used for transporting heavy loads.
Archaeological dig information
So I found information about the dig that is happening at the Rysio site!
This article at Ethnos.gr is saying this site was abandoned in around 600 BC which is before the founding of Thessaloniki.
I think the pictures of the site in the Ethnos article show what I mean about the erosion of the stones which are still part of the structure and which were buried. They show much less erosion that the loose stones on the surface around the hill.
The article says that about 10% of the hill has been excavated. I would say it is a much smaller percentage than that. I think the site has so much to give I can’t wait for it to progress!
And here are some more links to articles and information about the site at Nea Rysio, Thessaloniki, Greece
The hill is also noted as a listed site here
Nea Rysio Summary
All in all a super interesting site.
There is much more excavation to be done on the top of the hill
It would be interesting to see a section of the road excavated
It would also be interesting to see the contours excavated to see if they are actually kilns or something else entirely.
I hope the work at the site continues, I have seen other sites in Halkidiki, the Temple of Poseidon for example, be excavated superficially and then be abandoned. I hope this is not the fate of this settlement and excavation. To be untrained eye it seems to have a lot more potential because we have the main settlement on top and earthworks around the site.