Rokytne district

Rokytne district is located in the southern part of Kyiv region. It constitutes 2.3% of the total area of Kyiv region or 661.5 km2. The district lies within the Dnieper Upland. That is why flat and hills, covered with oak, hornbeam, ash and pine-trees prevail in this landscape. Scenic ravines and valleys that merge one into another with their flat slopes make these lands surprisingly inviting and colorful. People liked this land since the ancient times: the archeologists date the first human settlements of Rokytne district back to the sixth-third millennium В. С. The district lands «presented» the researchers with many finds, among which the first place probably goes to the earthenware, which became famous world wide thanks to the decoded pictures on it. During excavations at the burial mounds near the village of Romashky in 1899 archeologist V.V. Khvoiko found a beautifully decorated ceramic pitcher with a double handle. Scientists have carefully studied the pictures on it, making a discovery that led to a better understanding of the way and pace of life of the peoples, described as «Cherniakhiv culture».

They began to use this term following the famous archeological finds of Khvoika during excavations of ancient settlements near the village of Cherniakhiv to refer to a numerous (up to four million people as scientists estimate) group of tribes that lived at the area, spanning from southern lands of modern-day Germany to southern borders of Ukraine. Cherniakhiv culture is much younger than the Trypillia one because it existed during the A. D. 200—500. Regular agriculture practices, an established economy, etc., were prerequisites for a settled way of life and long stay of large groups of people in one place. Roman coins, found during almost all excavations of the settlements of that period, provide reasons to state that in those times the money circulation was quite common and stable, and the trade was active.

The coins hold the first place among Roman imported goods, found in Cherniakhiv lands. Thus, the trade between Cherniakhiv tribes and the Roman Empire had an active balance — they provided the Romans with more goods than they received in return. The most important export item was cereals, since the Romans were in need of grain, which was the staple product for the Cherniakhiv agricultural tribes. But only hard work and careful cultivation practices will ensure good harvests The pictures on Romashkiv pitcher bear basic elements of pagan calendar which is directly linked with annual schedule of agricultural activities. Hence the decoding of its paintings provided an answer to the question as to who, when, and how used to live on the lands of the modern-day Kyiv region in the distant past.

A unique monument to the glorious predecessors of modern Ukrainians, the Ants, is erected near the village of Syniava. If Rokytne is on your travel plan, you should visit this place too. The local residents call the hill near the mentioned sign «the Hill of Bozh». Here is this hill… Legendary Ants, who worshipped idols-gods made from stone and wood, lived with the nature and deified its forces… What is this, who are these mysterious people that remain in the tales of several Byzantine authors, among whom are Jordan, Agaphii, Prokopii, Feofilakt, Simokatt?

The Ants and Sklavins were separate Slavic tribal unions that had their own leaders, troops and an independent policy. Written sources mention the tsars of the Ants — Bozh, Ardahast, Mukosii; military commanders Dobrohast, Pyrohast, as well as others. The Ants grew grain, were engaged in the arable farming, and settled cattle-breeding; they also used the iron plough. They had stable trade, mastered crafts, held an active trade with neighboring peoples. On their lands the archeologists often found amphoras, glass and iron products, Roman coins, etc. Several such coins have been found near the village of Syniava. Historians believe that the sanctuary of Bozh used to sit on the Hill of Bozh. In the distant fourth century A. D. Bozh led the just struggle of his peoples against Goths (eastern German tribes), which were eager to invade those lands of plenty. The Ants gave them a fitting rebuff, because they were used to conducting campaigns over long distances, as well as they were courageous and warlike. When the adversary began to threaten their lands, the King Bozh (known as Boz and Bus — historians called him with different names) led his troops against the Goths, which were at those times led by the King Vinitar. The Ants first managed to defeat the assailants but later the latter returned bringing more troops. The battle was hard, and the Goths managed to capture Bozh. The adversaries violently avenged themselves on the freedom — loving Ants. They had the captives severely tortured and they had Bozh crucified. When the Avars began their invasion into the lands of the Ants, their union gradually fell apart, and there have been no records of them since the seventh century.

But the memory did not sink into oblivion. Tales about Bozh have been handed down in generations. The researchers believe that the author of The Tale of Ihor’s Campaign knew about him. It says, «And now beautiful Gothic maidens have begun their song on the shore of the blue sea. They jingle Russian gold. They glorify the times of Bus. They glorify the revenge of Sharokan». Possibly the name of the village of Busheve is a hint at that name. The village is located several kilometers from the Syniava on both banks of the Ros’ river (wasn’t it Busove some time ago?). Moreover, it was here that they found the remains of a Slavic settlement of the sixth-ninth centuries, and in the neighboring Ol’shanytsia archeologists found two Cherniakhiv culture settlements (second-seventh centuries A. D.) and a treasure with Roman coins.

Every visitor to these legendary places feels an unusual inspiration and a burst of energy. The oak and hornbeam groves of this hillock come to life in early March already, and first spring flowers herald the awakening of the Mother-Nature. Twittering of birds fills the air and blue skies, and the earth breathes with warmth — it is the God’s grace, indeed! Most likely that the celestial beings take really good care of these places!

Even such exotic birds as ostriches feel comfortably near this wonderful place: close by there is a farm at which these huge birds demonstrate their attire.

In the Kievan Rus’ times southern borders of Kyiv lands ran along the Ros’ river. Ancient Rus’ princes always paid special attention to that area because of a constant threat of nomadic attacks. That is why fortifications were built along the Ros’ — the so-called Serpent ramparts. They also ran through the modern-day Rokytne district — on the left bank of the Ros’ through Rokytne and Оl’shanytsia. Their remains can still be found in the Pischane tract.

Yaroslav the Wise established several towns along the Serpent ramparts. In 1031 he settled captive Poles on Porossia. One of those settlements also existed near present-day Rokytne.

The boyar Roman owned Rokytne and Ol’shanytsia. The name of the landowner of Rokytne, boyar Surynov, is known from the other sources. It might be the same person. After Surinov’s death, the estate passed to his widow, Dukhana.

Now the township of Rokytne is the district administrative center. The toponym «Rokytne» is found for the first time in the fifteenth century documents. At that time as the result of repeated Tatar raids the town had been reduced to a decline, the inhabitants and the owners left it. The documents testify that in the late sixteenth century Rokytne became a living place for the Ukrainian Cossacks. In the 80’s it was declared by the Polish crown to be the estate of K. Kosyns’kyi, a leader of the registered Cossacks. A personal conflict between K. Kosyns’kyi and Bila Tserkva elder Ya. Ostroz’kyi for the right to own Rokytne grew into a true war, which is more often referred to as the first Cossack and peasants anti — Polish uprising of 1590—1593. In 1620 the town passed into the hands of the magnate Zaslavs’kyi. Surrounding lands became the subject of acute contradictions between its owner and Prince K. Lubomyrs’kyi, who was appointed as a new Bila Tserkva elder.

At the end of September 1626 after winning the battle against the Tatars at Bila Tserkva, the Cossack troop led by M. Doroshenko encircled a big detachment of Butur-Sultan on the bog in the vicinity of Rokytne, and completely destroyed it. During 1648 — 1712 a company of the Bila Tserkva regiment was stationed in Rokytne. The population of the town was 1,700 and the strength of the garrison was 171 Cossacks. The name of Bohdan Khmel’nyts’kyi is connected with Rokytne. On 21 May 1648 he was here with his Ukrainian troop and a four thousand Tatar troop, led by Perekop Murza Tugai-bei. Het’man blessed four pairs of newlyweds in the newly built Holy Ressurection Church (the village of Syniava). After the battle at Berestechko on 10 September 1651 Khmel’nyts’kyi received an envoy of Het’man Potots’kyi, a Colonel of Polish Troop Makhovs’kyi, who came with the terms of the armistice to Rokytne. During that meeting it was agreed that the negotiations and signing of the agreement between Ukraine and Poland would take place in Bila Tserkva.

In 1686 in accordance with the so-called Treaty on Eternal Peace Poland received Rokytne. As the result of the second Partition of Poland (1793) Rokytne district was incorporated into the Russian Empire and included into the Vasyl’kiv county of the Kyiv province. After 1861, when serfdom was abolished the usual live in Rokytne began to gradually change. The former serfs got accustomed to commodity-money relations more and more. The development of industrial production increased. In the early twentieth century there were over 20 small enterprises in the town and 100 shops. In the summer of 1920 the Soviet rule was established in the district; its first actions gave rise to mass dissatisfaction among the villagers. During 1929—1930 mass collectivization took place and the famine of 1932—33 resulted from the Soviet agrarian policy. Rokytne district is one of those that suffered the most. The old people, who have survived, still remember how their fellow countrymen were dying, and there was nobody to bury the corpses…

The modern-day Rokytne is quite a convenient place for tourists as well as for its residents. There is a history museum, and its display allows learning about the history of Rokytne and the way of life of its residents.

It is quite good to fish on the Ros’ river near the village of Syniava close to the old mill dam: the current and clear water make these waters favorable for many fishes.

The village of Rye Hills is considered to be a separate locality but in fact it borders Rokytne. There is the following explanation to the origins of such name.

Two kilometers to the south of the village Rye Hills there is a considerable elevation, called «The Graves». The folk tales have it that in 1591 — 1593 during the peasant uprising against the Polish nobilty a big battle took place at the site of the present-day Rye Hills. The earth was thrown on the common grave in the shape of graves, which still remain there. Since those times they began to call that place «The Graves». During one of the driest years when the inhabitants suffered from famine, the rye was sown on the graves. The harvest was very good. The graves had been covered with dense rye field and it resembled the hills made of rye. Hence comes the name of the village. Local St Joseph church was built from wood in 1766 and is considered to be an architectural site.

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