Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Crkvina near the village of Vrutci, the remains of a pre-romanesque church and mediaeval burial ground - the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 30 August to 2 September 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The historic site of the remains of a pre-romanesque church and mediaeval burial ground in Crkvina near the village of Vrutci is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of the archaeological site of the remains of a church, a necropolis with stećak tombstones, and the movable heritage items found on the archaeological site and now in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, as listed in the inventory of the Museum's holdings.

            The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 644 (new survey), cadastral municipality Vrelo Bosne, corresponding to c.p. 2088 (old survey), Land Registry entry no. 1542, c.m. Hrasnica, Municipality Ilidža, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protection measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02, 27/02 and 6/04) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, and display the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated:

            The protected zone consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.  In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

Ÿ  all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Ÿ  the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,

Ÿ  the dumping of waste is prohibited.

Ÿ  the site of the monument shall be made good and cleared of self-sown vegetation.




            The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable items for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Permission for the temporary removal of the items from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the items in any way. 

            In granting permission for the temporary removal of the items, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the protection thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




            On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 568.




            Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.




            This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH.


            This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.


Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović



No: 05.1-02-203/04-2

1 September 2004




E l u c i d a t i o n



            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

            At a session held on 1-2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the archaeological site of Vrutci, Ilidža Municipality, to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 568.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.



            In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

Ÿ  Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ  Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.

Ÿ  Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


            The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1. Details of the property



            Vrutci is a village below Mt Igman, about 3 km west of Ilidža.  The historic site of the remains of a pre-romanesque church and mediaeval burial ground is in Crkvina, about 500 m north of the source of the river Bosna and 300 m from the houses in the village, close to the Ilidža – Vrelo Bosne avenue.


Historical information

            The archaeological sites at Butmir, Naklo near Vojkovići, Grac at Ilinjača near Kotorac, Debelo Brdo, Zlatište and numerous hill forts are evidence of continuous habitation in the area of the Sarajevo plain from the neolithic period to the present day. The Roman era has also left important evidence of material culture. In addition to the settlements at Ilidža, Blažuj and nearby Rogačići, individual buildings have been found in Butili by the river Bosna, Osijek and Stup. The remains of monuments from the Roman era have also been found in secondary positions, used as good quality building material during the mediaeval and early Ottoman periods.

            The early 7th century saw the start of a period of Slav settlement in the western areas of the Balkan peninsula.  Details of the life of the inhabitants of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina over the next two centuries are sparse and unclear.  It can safely be said that in the 9th century the region was part of contemporaneous cultural trends, identical to those in neighbouring countries.  There is reliable evidence from the 10th century of well-established micropolitical units known as župa.  Upper Bosnia, Inner Bosnia or Bosnia Proper, the nucleus of the early mediaeval Bosnian state, consisted of seven župas, including the Vrhbosna župa. There is no doubt that once the newly-arrived ethnic group had settled in in the 7th and 8th century, the Sarajevo plain saw the development of the powerful political and cultural centre of Upper Bosnia.  Historians also associate the founding of Katera, one of the two towns referred to by Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the mid 10th century, with the Vrhbosna župa, although the actual site has not been identified.  The construction of a church in Vrutci in the 9th or early 10th century is also evidence of a well organized and economically powerful community or of individual legators.

The Vrhbosna župa, to the western regions of which present-day Ilidža belonged, consisted of the river valleys of the Miljacka and Željeznica and the upper course of the Bosna. With effect from the second half of the 14th century the southern boundary of the župa shifted to Kijevo, whence it ran along the Kasindol brook towards Jahorina. The eastern boundary moved to the river Bistrica along the Miljacka as far as Bulog and via Vučja Luka to Ozren.  Until the beginning of the 14th century the župa came under the direct rule of the bans of Bosnia.  It is a matter of dispute whether, in the 14th and 15th century, it belonged to the king of Bosnia or to the Pavlović family. In the mid 15th century the Kosača's, too, had possession of part of the župa(1). The interests of the king of Bosnia and those of the two local overlords clashed over the boundaries.  From the third decade of the 15th century to its final occupation in 1448, the župa was frequently subjected to Ottoman incursions.

            One of the oldest mediaeval churches in central Bosnia is the church in Vrutci. By analogy, the fragments of the church furnishings can be dated to the second half of the 9th century or the early decades of the 10th (T. Glavaš, 1982, 117).It is listed among twelve holdings of the Bosnian bishopric in a charter dating from 1244(2), and was dedicated to St Steven the Martyr.

            The date and circumstances of the demolition of the church are unknown (3). Following its demolition, a necropolis with stećak tombstones took shape around it.


2. Description of the property

            The church is of imposing size (18.30 x 8.00 m), and belongs to the type of single-nave longitudinal building with rectangular apse in the older stage, rounded within in the reconstructed building.  It lies east-west with a slight divergence towards the north-east. The entrance to the church is at the west end and the apse at the east end. The interior space is divided into two parts: the sanctuary, and an area for the congregation. A rectangular altar stood at the transition from the apse to the sanctuary.

            Archaeological excavations identified the remains of two different stages of building. The basic interior dimensions of the earlier stage are 17.25 x 6.40 m, and of the later, 17.40 x 8.20 m. The entrance is 1.75 m wide. The interior dimensions of the nave are 9 x 6.40 m in the later stage and 9.90 x 8.20 m in the earlier.

            The walls of the older building are from 0.75 to 0.90 m thick. They have survived over the entire length of the building, although to a maximum height including foundations of no more than 0.60 m.  The massive, solid walls, the possibility that there were buttresses at the south-west and north-west corners of the building, the large quantity of tufa and the presence of fragments of keystones in the ruins of the building, suggest that the church was vaulted.  The only part of the altar to survive is the pedestal, consisting of a monolithic stone slab measuring 1 x 1.5 m, faced with tufa blocks, which are in fact the remains of the altar revetment on which the altar partition stood. Small fragments of painted mortar indicate that the interior of the church was painted. Prior to the erection of the later church, the walls of the old one were levelled above foundation level over their entire length.

            Tufa walls up to 0.35 m thick belong to the later stage. These were in very poor condition, surviving only as foundations. The western wall had gone completely, the north wall survived over a length of eight metres and the south wall over about seven metres, to a maximum height of 0.75 m. The partition wall, 0.70 m thick, was made of limestone blocks. In the south-eastern and south-western corners of the nave, parts of a structure measuring 0.50 x 0.50, made of tufa blocks, were discovered, probably the foundations of load-bearing pillars.  The floor of the church was of rammed  topsoil, on which signs of fire were to be observed, in the shape of carbonized wood and soot, probably from the floorboards or upper parts of the structure.  The later building had a timber ceiling and roof frame (T. Glavaš, 1982, 104-105).

            During the archaeological excavation, fifty fragments of stone decorated with pre-romanesque wickerwork design were found. The designs varied from the simplest double-strand type to meshwork of triple strands. Other designs included crooks, pierced ribs and rosettes.  Most of the carved stone fragments came from parts of the altar partition: pluteus, pilasters, capitals and pillars.  Some of the fragments belonged to the ciborium. The fragments collected were too small to provide enough features for even a part reconstruction of their original appearance, let alone a full one.  Only the cross, which stood at the top of the gable of the altar partition, could be fully reconstructed.  White fine-grained sandstone, the homogeneous composition of which makes it suitable for such treatment, was used for carved stone decoration. 

            The mediaeval burial ground consists of a necropolis with stećak tombstones and a large number of graves without tombstones.

            The necropolis with stećak tombstones consists of eighty chest-shaped tombstones lying west-east, with minor deviations towards the north-west or south-west, and set in rows. All are of good workmanship, but are somewhat damaged as a result of the use of poor quality stone. They have no decoration. Some of the stećak tombstones were set on the walls of the demolished church, but none were inside the church.

            In addition to these graves, a large number of flat graves dug into the soil and covered with pieces of tufa were found during the excavations. Nine of these flat graves were excavated, as was one beneath a stećak tombstone (no. 32). Two of the graves that were excavated were dug into the floor at the north-western corner of the nave, parallel with the north wall. The graves had no architectural features of any kind. One of the deceased was laid direct on the topsoil.           Stratigraphic details suggest that the deceased were buried when the church was still in use, or at the latest before it was demolished.  The remaining excavated tombs were set alongside the building or on the demolished walls.  Most of them were made of tufa blocks taken from the building, without the use of mortar.  Three were dug into building rubble. Judging from the remains of carbonized wood found in two of the graves, the deceased were buried in wooden coffins or laid on planks.

            Grave goods:

Ÿ  two broken earrings dating from the 9th to 11th century;

Ÿ  nine coins, all silver piccoli minted in northern Italy, dating from the second half of the 12th to the first half of the 14th century;

Ÿ  other grave goods: a gilded bronze earring with three biconical bosses, dating from the 9th to 15th century; a bronze ring, and pottery.  These were found in the excavations.

            Two fragments of the doorjambs of the church were found in the substructure of the grave below stećak no. 28.

            A Roman altar dedicated to the Roman Triad, probably from the Roman site in Ilidža, was found under stećak no. 29. The inscription on the altar was damaged and is only partly legible (4).


3. Legal status to date

            The pre-romanesque church and mediaeval burial ground in the village of Vrutci is recorded as a cultural monument, listed in the records of monuments of the  Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo.

            The archaeological site is on the Provisional List of National Monuments by the name of Ilidža – Vrutci, under serial no. 568.

            The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists it as a Category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            Between 1960 and 1962 test archaeological digs were carried out in the necropolis with stećak tombstones.  It was then that the remains of the church were discovered. The works were carried out by Š. Bešlagić.

            In 1975, systematic archaeological excavations were carried out, led by Margita Gavrilović.

            From May to July 1999, the following works were carried out under the management of the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo:

Ÿ               clearing and felling overgrown shrubs and scrub,

Ÿ               setting the stećak tombstones upright and conservation thereof,

Ÿ               making an access path from Velika aleja to the site of the stećak tombstones,

Ÿ               making and erecting a notice board.

            The movable archaeological material is stored in the Archaeological Department of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


 5.Current condition of the property

            An on site inspection in July 2004 ascertained as follows:

            As a result of long-term lack of maintenance, the site is neglected and overgrown with high vegetation cover; it is impossible to see let alone determine the condition of the stećak tombstones and remains of the church.  The wider region belongs to a protected waters zone. A notice board has been erected by the access route where the church is wrongly described as a basilica.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

D. Clarity

D.i. material evidence of a lesser known historical era

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.v. location and setting

H. Rarity and representativity

H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

- Copy of cadastral plan

- Photodocumentation

- Documentation of the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo

- Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1971.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Kataloško- topografski pregled.(Catalogical-topographical survey) Sarajevo,1971,  334.


1982.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Izvještaj o probnom kopanju na Crkvini kod sela Vrutci 1960-1961. god. (Report on trial digs at Crkvina near Vrutci village 1960-1961) Jnl of the National Museum, Sarajevo 1982, 87-92.


1982.    Glavaš, Tihomir, Preromanička crkva u Vrutcima (Pre-romanesque church in Vrutci) Jnl of the National Museum, Sarajevo 1982, 93-122.


1994    Klaić, Nada, Srednjovjekovna Bosna (Mediaeval Bosnia), Zagreb, 1994, 112-115


2000.    Fekeža, Lidija, and Gavrilović, Margita, Od dolaska Slavena do pada bosanskog kraljevstva. (From the arrival of the Slavs to the fall of the Bosnian kingdom), Sarajevo 2000, 171-190.


(1) In one of Dubrovnik's unpublished archives there is reference to the fact that in 1455 Stjepan  Kosača's men robbed the Dubrovnik merchant Novaković subtus Blaxul (at Blažuj).

(2) A charter of Bela IV issued in the town of Glaž, in Usora, on 20 July 1244, refers to an episcopal estate that had previously been confirmed as a old holding by the Bosnian Ban Ninoslav. The charter survives in a transcript of the Papal chancery of Gregory XI dating from 1375 and is held in the Vatican archives.  There are divergent opinions on this charter, including the well-corroborated view that it is a forgery (N. Klaić, 112-114).

(3) Coins of the Venetian Doges Giovanni Dandolo (1280-1289) and Pietro Gradenigo (1289-1311) were found in a tomb outside the front of the church, built of tufa blocks taken from the ruins of the church.


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Plan of the archeological site in the village of VrtuciView at the archeological site, year 2004Plan of the church, S. KudraCross-sections, S. Kudra
Archeological materialArcheological material- decorated stone fragmentsJewelry and coins 

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