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Stratum plus. 2014. No.6

S. V. Beletsky (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)

A Hatchet from Suzdal Opolye

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Pages: 65-72

In 2011, during excavation of a tumulus at the cemetery of Shekshovo-9 near Suzdal, there was found an iron war hatchet inlayed with silver. Along with a geometric motif, the incrustation included representations of two princely signs — a bident and a trident. N.A. Makarov, I.E. Zaytseva and A.M. Krasnikova who published this find have convincingly identified this hatchet as a “symbol of power”.
The bident is an ordinary type of a familial two-pronged battle fork sign of the Rurik princes; it was consequently used by representatives of the senior branch of the dynasty. The trident belonged to one of the junior sons of Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich. A contemporary of Vladimir Svyatoslavich’s sons among the princes who used the family bident of the Rurik dynasty was represented by Svyatopolk Yaropolchich — the posthumous son of Yaropolk Svyatoslavich adopted by Vladimir. He used the bident in the years of the Turov princedom. The trident on the hatchet can have belonged (and, most probably, indeed belonged) to Vsevolod Vladimirovich who reigned in Volhynia.
Svyatopolk Yaropolchich considered himself as a legal pretender to the Kievan throne “lawlessly” occupied by Vladimir Svyatoslavich who had killed his elder brother, Kievan Grand Prince Yaropolk. The frondeur opposition resulted in Svyatopolk being arrested and imprisoned in a dungeon on charges of conspiracy. Possibly, Vsevolod took Svyatopolk’s side in the confrontation with Kiev and became a participant of the plot.

Keywords: Kievan Rus', Rurik dynasty, hatchet, bident, trident, power symbols (regalia), voivode, conspiracy

Information about author:

Serge Beletsky
(Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Doctor of Historical Sciences. Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dvortsovaya Nab., 18, Saint Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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