CULTURE / Settlements / Sand-buried Villages

Since the 16th century the human activity has intensified in the peninsula: large-scale deforestation, intensive pasturage, resin and charcoal extraction, tapping, forest fires. Heathland burnings for beekeeping purposes also contributed to the devastation of flora. Even though some forest clearing restrictions were effective in the 16th century and Šarkuva Forest was announced to be a nature reserve in 1624, however the destruction of vegetation had continued. In 1794, Karl Nanke, the inspector of economics of Prussia, wrote that "...Prussian peasant had no clue about saving the forest". The forests of the Spit especially suffered becoming a source of timber during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Forest coverage in the Spit decreased from 75% (1605) down to 10 % (1834) within the two-century period of deforestation. The old parabolic dunes are overlapped by the new drifting dunes which bury old soils and the remains of forests. Even 14 villages were victimized by sandstorms during the 1706-1846 period. Senoji Nida (1678, 1732), Preidynė (1695), Senieji Nagliai or Agila (1728), Lotmiškis (1762), Karvaičiai (1797), Senieji Kuncai (1825), Gausutė (1830), Nagliai (1846), Naujieji Nagliai (1854), Senoji Pilkopė (1588), Pilkopė (1897), Šarkuva, Smiltynė were buried in sand in the 18th century.

Four settlements and two cemeteries were actually sandbound by the dunes stretched between Juodkrantė and Pervalka, currently - Nagliai Nature Reserve. Once there was Nagliai village whose inhabitants consistently migrated from one place to another and finally abandoned the village. Therefore, in the 180-year history, the village moved 6-7 km to the south and the inhabitants throughout seven generations had been forced to leave their home for four times. The inhabitants of the last Naujieji Nagliai left their homeland only in 1854. Some of them settled at the northern end of Nida establishing Purvyne settlement. Afterwards a part of them moved further to the north and established Preila settlement, and the last ones - Pervalka.  

Resettlements of the villages ended up in the 19th century when intesive dune stabilization works have been launched.


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