Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Necropolis with stećak tombstones in Crkvina in Hutovo, the archaeological site

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Status of monument -> National monument

            Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH” no. 53/08.

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 4 to 11 September 2006 the Commission adopted a






The archaeological site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones in Crkvina in Hutovo, Municipality Neum is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of a mediaeval necropolis with 101 stećak tombstones, part of the remains of a building and the remains of a later Christian burial ground.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 776 (new survey); c.p. 771 new survey, corresponding to c.p. no. 468/12 (old survey); c.p. 763 new survey, corresponding to c.p. no. 235/24 (old survey); c.p. 764 new survey, corresponding to c.p. no. 468/2 (old survey); c.p. 2407 new survey, corresponding to c.p. no. 235/32,33 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 101 schedule I, cadastral municipality Hutovo, Municipality Neum, 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 on the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision the following protection measures are hereby stipulated.     

-          all works are prohibited other than archaeological investigations and research and conservation and restoration works, routine maintenance works, and works designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

-          the most elaborately decorated stećak, which was moved from the necropolis to the churchyard of the Roman Catholic church in Hutovo, shall be restored to its original position,

-          all construction or works that could have the effect of altering the site, and the erection of temporary facilities or permanent strutures not designed solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument, are prohibited,

-          works on the infrastructure are prohibited unless with the approval of the relevant ministry and subject to the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority,

-          the site of the National Monument shall be open and accessible to the public, and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,

-          the dumping of waste is prohibited.


To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, a buffer zone is hereby stipulated, consisting of a strip with a radius of 50 m around the boundaries of the protected site of the National Monument. The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

-          the construction of houses that would alter the immediate surroundings of the necropolis or impede access to the Monument or block the view of it from the road is prohibited,

-          infrastructure works are prohibited until such time as the site has been reconnoitred archaeologically and properly investigated,

-          on completion of these investigative works the Commission shall determine, on the basis of a report on the site, whether the prohibition on building works can be lifted and shall specify the conditions under which building may be permitted,

-          the dumping of waste is prohibited,

-          given the extent to which the necropolis is endangered, the tombstones and the surrounding area shall be hand-cleared of wild plants representing a danger to the structure of the tombstones. The use of weedkillers and other chemical substances is not recommended on account of the proximity of the built-up area and pasturage.


The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for drawing up and implementing a programme for the systematic archaeological investigation and conservation of the necropolis, which shall include a geodetic survey of its current condition, and for drawing up and implementing a programme for the presentation of the National Monument.




The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) 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 heritage 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 temporary removal 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 movable heritage in any way. 

In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to the country, 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 preservation thereof.




The Government of the Federation, the relevant Federal ministry, 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 V 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) 




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.




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. 432.




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.


No: 05.2-2-162/06-3

5 September 2006



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


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.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the historic ensemble of Neum-Hutovo-Inscription of Radovac Vukanović and the mediaeval necropolis with churchyard to the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH under serial no. 432.

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 para. 4 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:

-          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land register entry);

-          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.;

-          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


Crkvina is alongside the side road that forks off from the main road to Popovo plain, the Hutovo-Velja Međa road. The fork is about a hundred metres from the necropolis with stećak tombstones known as Karasivice or Drijenjak, between Upper and Lower Hutovo. A macadam side road leads to the Crkvina necropolis, which is about 400 m to the north-east of the Karusovica necropolis. The necropolis and old, abandoned burial ground are located on uncultivated ground full of dry stone walls.

Historical information

Hutovo is located in a natural pass between the Popovo plain and the main ridge of Mt. Žaba, through which ran all the roads leading from the Adriatic – from Ston, Klek or Slani – towards the interior of Hum land and Bosnia.

In mediaeval times, Hutovo belonged to the Hum župa (county) of Žaba. The earliest record of this county is in the Chronicles of the Doclean priest, usually dated to the mid 12th century. Žaba county included Mt. Žaba, the long spine of which runs east-west from the western end of the Popovo plain to the delta of the river Neretva. The broad foothills of the mountain reach to the sea at the Pelješac (Ston) channel to the south and the Bregava and Krupa river basins to the north (Anđelić, 1983, 38). Until 1399, when the Republic of Dubrovnik purchased the New Lands from Bosnia’s King Dabiša, which were registered in the detailed land register of the Littoral (Republic of Dubrovnik) during King Ostoja’s reign, in 1405, the villages of Ošlje, Stupa, Topolo, Imotica, Štedro, present-day Klek, Gradina in Mala Neretva [where?] Brštanik town/fort was built in or around 1382, and the Slivno area belonged to Žaba county (Anđelić, 1983, 37, 39; Tošić, 1982, 49). Mt. Žaba divides the county into two equal halves: the northern continental area and the coastal area south of the mountain.

Hutovo, which lies on a major road running through the county, is in the northern, continental part, and belonged in mediaeval times to the kotar (district) of Hrasno. This district was subdivided into small areas corresponding to the rural communities of Gornje and Donje Hrasno (now a small group of villages sharing the same name) or to a manorial estate that was probably in Hutovo (Anđelić, 1983, 40-42).   

The early feudal county system with hereditary župans (lords of the county) lasted from the 7th and 8th century right through to the third decade of the 14th, when the territory of Žaba county was equated with the Nikolić’s feudal lands at the time of lord of the county Nikola (after 1327). Although Nikola formally held the title of lord of the county, he became the first feudal lord of Žaba county and vassel of Bosnia’s ban (governor) Stjepan II Kotromanić. The Nikolić’s were the leading landowning family in Žaba county and direct descendants of Hum’s Prince Andrija (1214-1217) who, at the time of the break-up of the Hum state in the early 13th century, held Popovo, the Littoral and Žaba. The Nikolić’s family burial ground, and probably their headquarters too, was in Vranjevo village. Their family tree can be traced over eight generations, right through to vojvoda (duke) Vukačin (1436-1453). The status of the family altered with the passage of time.  At times they were direct vassals of the Bosnian king, but they were more often vassals of the Sanković’s in Popovo and the Kosača’s. The landowning clan of the Šimraks or Šimraković’s are known of in Žaba county in the 15th and 16th centuries (Dinić, 1967, 15). There are also scraps of information about other figures, stewards of the Nikolić feudal lords, in this mediaeval county (Anđelić, 1983, 37-38, 42).

Hutovo is the only place to stand out in Hrasno, the northerm part of Žaba county. It may be deduced from onomastics that it was a mediaeval manorial estate belonging to some nearby, unidentified landowner whose name is preserved in the place-name Hutovo. The estate must have been a large one, probably extending from Popovo to Hutovo blato (Anđelić, 1983, 46). 

The earliest sources pertaining to the Vlah organization in this region date from the early Ottoman period. The villages of Svitava and Hrasno are known to have belonged to the dukedom of Donji (Lower) Vlah, which also took in the Vlah communities in the environs of Stolac and Ljubinje (Ubosko, the Burmazi Vlahs). The Herzegovina sanjak was established in early 1470, but a year earlier the first census of the vilayet of Herzeg, the Herceg’s land, had been conducted.  The sanjak was divided into three vilayets. At first, the area between the Neretva, Tara and Piva rivers, belonged to the Blagaj vilayet and kadiluk, and then to the large Drina kadiluk with its headquarters in Foča. Documents dating from 1473 and 1500 refer to the Primorje (Littoral) vilayet, extending from Gabela to Dračevica, which would mean that it also included the former mediaeval Žaba county (Šabanović, 1982, 156-159,161, 1967; Anđelić, 1983,  43).


2. Description of the property

The necropolis covers an area of approx. 4000 m2, measuring approx. 80 m (north-east/south-west) x 50 m (north-west/south-east), on the outermost slopes of the hill bordering Hutovo to the south-east. The land falls away naturally from the north-west to the south-east. A local macadam road runs through the area occupied by the necropolis, dividing it into a northern and a southern part. There are dry stone walls in many places in the necropolis, especially in the southern part. The necropolis contains 101 stećak tombstones, 32 of which are chest-shaped and 69 slab-shaped. They include large chest-shaped stećak tombstones and slabs of fine workmanship, but the majority are of poor workmanship or even amorphous. They lie north-west/south-east, following the natural lie of the land.

The northern part of the necropolis contains the very poorly preserved remains of the lower parts of a building, believed by the local people to have been a church. Dry stone boundary walls have been built alongside this building.

The remains of a building by the northern edge of the north-west part of the necropolis consist of parts of three walls at right-angles. The north wall is the only one to be preserved over its full length of 4 m and width of 0.6 m. The west wall is 2 m long and the east wall 2.55 m long, with a 0.9 m wide entrance. In the middle of this area is a row of dry-stone laid stones running north-south. The walls are very tumbledown in most places, but the entrance can still be plainly seen. There are piled-up stećak tombstones, moved from their original positions to lie close to this building, some laid one on another and overturned. The largest group of stećak tombstones is outside this building, on and around its ruins; the tombstones are mainly large slabs or low chest-shaped tombstones, of good workmanship, while further to the south are thinner, barely worked slabs or low chests, also of poor workmanship. The chest-shaped tombstones of good workmanship in this part of the necropolis are low, and the slabs are up to 0.3 m in height. All the tombstones of good workmanship are 1.6 to 2 m long and 0.6 to 0.9 m wide.

In this part of the burial ground there are six decorated tombstones, four chest-shaped and two slabs. One of them, with the greatest number of decorative motifs, has been moved to the churchyard of the Roman Catholic church in Hutovo. Two of the chest-shaped tombstones have a rectangular border of oblique parallel incisions on their top surfaces. The top surface of the third chest-shaped tombstone has a border of zigzag lines. The sides of the fourth have a frieze of incised parallel oblique lines. The slab transferred to the churchyard of the Roman Catholic church in Hutovo (which measures 1.85 x 0.65 x 0.30 m) is decorated on the top surface with a number of incised motifs. Within a border of incised parallel oblique lines are four decorative motifs in the middle of the slab: a crescent moon, an eight-lobed rosette, below it a bow and arrow, and between the rosette and the bow a hand with fingers spread.

In this part of the necropolis, from the building northwards towards the road dividing the necropolis into two, is a quantity of scattered stone, some natural, some scarcely worked, and two fragments of some architectural element decorated with flutings. These two fragments are probably architectural remains from (late?) antiquity.

In the middle of this northern part of the necropolis, close to the road, are the remains of an abandoned burial ground with thin, low, narrow, perpendicular slabs marking the graves.  Between them is a grave with a slab and tall cross with partly eroded epitaph, of which however enough remains to identify it as dating from the late 19th century.

To the south of the road lies the part of the necropolis containing several large chests and slabs of good workmanship, though undecorated, most of which have been incorporated into dry stone walls. This part is surrounded by dry stone walls in some places. The tombstones are not set so close together here nor have they been shifted as have those in the northern part.  Here, too, old graves set with short, thin slabs can be more easily made out and in greater numbers. Among these old graves belonging to the abandoned burial ground, one with a small, low cross stands out. The stećak tombstones date roughly from the late mediaeval and early Ottoman periods, 14th to late 15th century. The old burial ground was probably abandoned in the early decades of the 20th century.


3. Legal status to date

The property is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments under the heading Neum-Hutovo Mediaeval necropolis with churchyard, under serial no. 432.

The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 listed the stećak tombstones in the Čapljina area as category III monuments.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

The Crkvina necropolis in Hutovo was visited and described by Šefik Bešlagić in the early 1960s (Bešlagić, 1966, 56).


5. Current condition of the property

During an on site inspection on 21 July 2006 it was found that many of the tombstones have sunk into the ground or been shifted, and are overgrown with scrub. In the southern part of the necropolis, some of the tombstones have been incorporated into a dry stone wall. The local limestone from which they were carved is prone to damage and disintegration caused by exposure to the elements. The remains of the building have clearly been ransacked.


6. Specific risks           

-          natural factors: disintegration of the stone,

-          lack of maintenance: rank overgrowth.



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

G.         Authenticity

G.i.       form and design,

G.v.      location and setting.


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan,

-          Copy of land register entry,

-          Drawings – map of protection zones,

-          Photodocumentation, 83 photographs taken by the Commission on site July 2006,

-          Two photographs, nos. 103, 104, by Š. Bešlagić, 1966.



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


1966.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Popovo, Sarajevo, 1966.


1971.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećak tombstones, a catalogue and topographical survey), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1971, 142-143.


1982.    Šabanović, Hazim, Bosanski pašaluk (The Bosnian pashaluk), Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1982.


1983.    Anđelić, Pavao, “Srednjovjekovna humska župa Žaba” (Žaba Mediaeval County of Hum), Hercegovina, 3, Mostar, 1983, 35-56.

Necropolis with stećak tombstones in Crkvina in HutovoSoutheast part of the necropolisNorthwest part of the necropolisRemains of the northern part of the building
Entrance at eastern building wallStećak tombstones around the buildingStećak tombstones covered with vegetationStećak tombstone located into church yard in Hutovo
Stećak tombstone as part of the wall   

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