Defensive structures of Kyivan Rus

The construction of defensive structures played a significant role in the architecture of Kyivan Rus. Typically, the location of ancient Rus cities was determined by the geography, with natural obstacles such as rivers, hills, and ravines providing protection from most sides.

The unprotected sides of the cities were fortified with defensive structures.

The simplest form of fortification was an earthen rampart topped with a wooden palisade (Chastokil – in Ukrainian) or fence made of horizontally placed logs. The outer side of the ramparts was surrounded by a ditch formed during the excavation of soil for the construction of the rampart.

A more sophisticated construction was the rampart with “gorodni” – wooden log structures filled with soil. This design provided strength, increased steepness, and protected against landslides. Wooden walls, formed by the above-ground parts of the gorodni, ran along the top of the rampart.

Hoardings (Zaborola  – in Ukrainian) were located on the walls – combat platforms for the defenders of the city. These were wooden shed-like constructions projecting on consoles beyond the outer line of the defensive wall or tower.

Battlements for shooting were placed in the front wall, and openings in the floor were designed for vertical defense of the rampart. The tops of the hoardings were covered with roofs. To prevent fires, the wooden parts of the gorodni and hoardings were coated with clay.

Gate-towers (Brama – in Ukrainian) played a crucial role in the defensive fortifications, serving as important links in the defense of cities. Gates were constructed in the form of towers with a passage in the lower part. Walls and ramparts were adjacent to the sides of the gate-tower.

In cases where there was a moat in front of the gate, a narrow wooden bridge was built over it. In times of danger, the defenders of the city sometimes destroyed the bridges themselves to hinder the enemy’s approach to the gates.

In the AW23 BRAMA collection, dedicated to the architectural heritage of Kyivan Rus, special attention is given to references to defensive structures.

The wooden palisade is recreated in palazzo trousers through vertical pleats.

Defensive hoardings are reflected in the dress and top with a massive overhanging collar imitating shingles.

Dranka cape is a reinterpretation of a defensive outpost covered with an impenetrable scale of wooden planks.