Na Starih Mrgari (new)
FLOWER-SHAPED DRY STONE MULTICELLULAR SHEEPFOLDS
The ancient building technique of dry stone walling, i.e., using only stones and no binding material, no mortar or concrete, is still preserved in the traditional vernacular architecture of this region. Its most impressive and rarest example is provided by the mrgari – complex multicellular dry stone sheepfolds with flower-shaped ground plans, used for sorting the sheep of various owners.
These giant dry stone flowers, tens of meters in diameter, ornate the common pasture of only three settlements (Baška, Jurandvor, and Batomalj) on the southernmost tip of the island of Krk, still maintaining the traditional custom of communal sheep round-up.
There are ten of them on the island of Krk, three of which have been abandoned. Seven are still in use, while five more can be found on the neighbouring uninhabited island of Prvić. The largest of them can accommodate as many as 1500 sheep, collected from the barren plateaus where they wander freely for the summer part of the year. The flock is herded into the central enclosure and then sorted into the surrounding peripheral folds through lunkies or gaps.
Being built predominantly in single dry walling, the walls are rather fragile and require regular maintenance by their builders, owners and users – the local shepherds. This also brings about changes in their shape, even in the ground plans, as the shepherds see fit and according to their current needs. The mrgari are unique, rare and beautiful. They can survive only if they remain in active use, which also means accepting their constant change.
To the best of our present knowledge, in addition to the southernmost tip of the island of Krk and the nearby island of Prvić, flower-shaped multicellular sheepfolds such as these can be found on only two more islands in the world: on the island of Great Britain (in Wales) and on Iceland.
The Mrgari with their designated number and location in the Baška & Suthern Krk Map and Guide:
1 NA STAROŠĆINI
2 NA REBICI
3 NA STARIH MRGARI (abandoned)
4 NA STARIH MRGARI (new)
5 VA POTHLAMCU
6 NA JAKOŠI
7 NA LIPICI (abandoned and renewed)
8 NA VRATUDIH (abandoned)
9 NA KOVACINU
10 NA LJUBIMERU
Photos by Denis Lešić
Na Starih Mrgari (abandoned)