Peculiarities of the Świętokrzyski National Park – Brief Overview
The name gołoborza is probably of folk origin. It describes woodless areas of mountain slopes. Gołoborza are built of the Cambrian quartzitic sandstone which is over 500 million years old. Nowadays, they cover about 22 ha; yet, owing to the continuous but slow process of primary succession, this area is decreasing.
Gołoborza originated in the Pleistocene during the last glacial period, from approximately 74,000 to 8,500 years ago. The Świętorzyskie mountains were under the periglacial climate (characteristic of regions immediately on the periphery of a glacier), which determined the strong frost weathering of the quartzitic sandstone.
Today, on gołoborza we can observe the processes of soil formation, thanks to the existence of undeveloped rock soils (litosoils), very rare in Poland on such an altitude, and ranker-type soils. In the areas of gołoborza and their vicinity, we can also see the most primary, the least changed biological communities. They include relict species of plants (lichens) and animals (molluscs). Undoubtedly, gołoborza of the Łysogóry range are the most characteristic natural value of the Świętokrzyski National Park.
Zespół jarzębiny świętokrzyskiej (Sorbetum sanctae-crucianum) – Local Rowan Association
Zespół jarzębiny świętokrzyskiej (Sorbetum sanctae-crucianum)
The habitat conditions in the central part of gołoborza are so unfavourable that only some undemanding mosses and lichens can exist there. Consequently, this area remains woodless for a long period of time.
The first tree to occur on the fringe of gołoborza and deal with these difficult conditions is the photophilous European rowan, also known as mountain ash. Its root system manages to cross the free space between rocks and reach the mineral substratum. The European rowan is always the main or even the only component of the shrub layer and the forest stand growing on the fringes of gołoborza. Hence, the local rowan association, called in Polish zespół roślinny jarzębiny świętokrzyskiej (Sorbetum sanctae-crucianum) has been designated.
The forests of the Świętokrzyskie mountains were extolled by an eminent Polish novelist, Stefan Żeromski, in his “Puszcza Jodłowa” (The Fir Forest) prose poem and other pieces of writing. Upland fir mixed coniferous forest Abietetum polonicum was described for the first time in 1928 on the basis of materials from the Świętokrzyskie mountains.
This unique plant community can be found only in Poland. Its biggest areas are observed in the Świętokrzyskie mountains (including the ŚNP) and in Roztocze region. The forests of this type occur mainly on acid brown and muck-gley soils. The European silver fir is the major tree of the forest stand, being very frequent especially in the lower forest layers. There is a considerable addition of beech, pedunculate oak and sessile oak. Trees such as aspen, black alder, silver birch, and spruce are found less frequently. The shrub layer is dominated by raspberry and red elderberry. European rowan and buckthorn are less numerous.
Geological deposits – peculiarities and abundance
The Świętokrzyskie mountains, along with the Sudetes, are one of the oldest ranges not only in Poland but also in Europe. No wonder, their geological structure can be counted among the biggest attractions of the Świętokrzyski National Park.
The Łysogóry range is built of the Upper Cambrian sandstone (quartzitic sandstone and slate). The highest peaks of this range include: Łysica (612 metres), Agata (608 metres), and Łysa Góra (595 metres). It is worth realising that while wandering this area we are moving on the Palaeozoic rocks which are over 500 millions years old.
The Klonowski range with the mountains: Bukowa Góra (483 metres), Pasraska Góra (412 metres), and Miejska Góra (426 metres) as well as the Bostowski range and the Pokrzywiański range with the mountain called Chełmowa Góra (351 metres) are built of the Devonian sandstone and slate. Undoubtedly, the Zapusty scarp, built of carbonate rocks and located near the Rudki village, can be regarded as one of the ŚNP peculiarities.
The peak of Łysa Góra is surrounded by a stone embankment, piled with quartizitic sandstone boulders. The embankment is about 1.5 kilometres long, and over 2 metres high. Dated back to the 8th-11th century AD, it is commonly believed to have functioned as religious cult circles separating places regarded as holy from the surrounding. It is said that within the area designated by the embankment, religious rites were performed.
According to the Czech Benedictine records from the 16th century, Łysa Góra was dedicated to three deities called Łada, Boda i Leli (Whoosh, Whistle and Weather). At the beginning of spring, people gathered near the embankment in order to say prayers and make offerings to the deities mentioned above.