The Radimlja necropolis is located in Vidovo polje, three kilometres west of Stolac, on the Čapljina – Stolac road. It is an area characterized by Mediterranean (maritime) climate. It is located in the area where the Radimlja River, a right tributary of the Bregava River, meanders. The monuments of this necropolis were lined up and oriented northwest-southeast.
Limestone was used from the nearby quarry at Ošanićko hill, about 800 meters northeast of the necropolis, where an unfinished stećak has been standing to this day. According to the data from 2000, the necropolis has 133 stećci: 36 slabs, 1 slab with base, 27 chests, 24 chests with bases, 4 tall chests, 5 tall chests with bases, 2 gabled roof stećci, 31 gabled roof stećci with bases and 3 cross tombstones. Out of the 133 stećci, 63 are decorated. The decorations were made in sunk relief, by incision or by combined technique using a hammer with a short cutting blade, while the smooth surfaces were polished by hard stone. The most beautifully decorated forms are gabled roof tombstones and tall chests. The vertical sides of some of the monuments have arcades with pillars and arches.
The roof section of the gabled roof stećak and gable are particularly prominent – raised eaves, zigzag notches or plastic thick lines or knitted rope.
Among the most common decorative motives, which stand out by the quality of workmanship, are scrolling trefoil vines and twisted ribbons as well as symbolic motives, such as the sun (a circle), stars and crescent moon. There are numerous motives of a cross, frequently highly stylized, as well as motives of a shield, sword and of bow and arrow. Images of animals have been found on several stećci while the necropolis abounds in figural scenes. Outstanding among those are male figures with hands raised high up. The figural scenes also include battles, hunting and dancing scenes.
Inscriptions appear on five stećci and provide information on some family members of Hrabren Miloradović, who were Vlach katuns, (Vlachs called Donji Vlasi) and on Radimlja where they were being buried being their family heritage “on Batnogah”.
Radoje Vukovič, nephew of Duke Petar and Radoje, brother of Duke Petar and son of Duke Stipan belonged to the upper class of feudal lords.
Duke Stipan is mentioned in the inscription above the portal of the church at Ošanići as well as on a large stone chair in front of that church. Duke Stipan died around 1470 and Duke Petar is mentioned in the context of 1477 as elder of Vlach katun Hrabren.
According to the inscription, Radoja, second son of Stipan, died in the period after the 70-ies and Radoja Vukovič, nephew of duke Petar, died around the 80-ies or the 90-ies of the 15th century. Vlač or Vlađ Vlahovič and Stipan are mentioned in two inscriptions.
Judging by the shields on their monuments, it may be assumed that they belonged to the military while nothing definite can be said for Vukac Petrovič.
The scribes or stonemasons Bolašin Bogačič, Miogost and Ratko Brativo(-)nič /Brativojevič ) signed their names on those tombstones.
The necropolis with stećci Radimlja is part of the historical area of the town of Stolac, characterized by the presence of material remains of several historical layers. There are significant findings from prehistoric times (the site of the cave Badanj in Borojevići), the Illyrian-Roman period (Hellenistic town of Daorson), the Middle Ages (old town of Vršnik, Vidoški grad, church of sv. Petar and Pavle in Ošanići), the Ottoman period (old bazaar, mosques – Čaršijska džamija, Podgradska džamija), the Austro-Hungarian period and modern times.
The necropolis at Radimlja represents a continuation of the tradition of burial alongside the old graves, as evidenced by a number of Illyrian tumuli nearby. It is closely related to the family of Hrabren Miloradović, which lived here in the 15th century according to historical data and the inscription on the door of the church of sv. Petar and Pavle (St.Peter and Paul) and the inscription on the stone judge’s chair which bears the names of Duke Stipan and Petar Miloradović.
During the Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia (1878-1918), the necropolis was cut in two by the Čapljina – Stolac road. In the second half of the 1940-ies and late 1950-ies, a test pit investigation was carried out prompting and speeding up legal protection of the site.
The Historical area – the Radimlja stećci necropolis near Stolac, was declared a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Decision of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereafter: Commission) no.: 01-275/02 of 6 November 2002.
The Historical area – Radimlja necropolis near Stolac was inscribed on the Provisional List of National Monuments on 22 July 1997 in Sarajevo.
Based on a legal provision and pursuant to the Decision rendered by the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments in Mostar no.: 714/2-67 of 22 December 1967, the „Radimlja“ necropolis with stećci at the site of „Stare grobnice„(Old tombs) – medieval necropolis – was placed under protection as a cultural monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was entered in the register of monuments under two registration numbers: registration no. 70 – Institute from Mostar and registration no. 536 – Institute for Protection of Culture of the People’s Republic of BiH, in the same year.
The Radimlja necropolis is located in Vidovo polje, 3 km west of Stolac. The area includes the following cadastral parcels: 394/9, 363/19, 394/2, 394/174, 395, 396, 397, 363/8, 363/22, 363/23, 363/24, 363/25, 363/26, 693/1, 374/1 in the Municipality of Stolac, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; mixed ownership – state and private.
The site includes stećci situated inside the parcel known as Stare grobnice (Old Tombs), an area located to the north and south of the existing Mostar – Stolac road. The necropolis is lined with cypress trees on the southeast boundary, while the river bed of the Radimlja River is on its west and south sides.
State of the location
Although a part of the necropolis was destroyed during construction of a highway through the necropolis in the early 20th century, the condition of the site can be described as satisfactory, particularly in view of the fact that the decision declaring the site a national monument as well as the establishment of a protected area and wide buffer zone stopped illegal construction near the site.
Upon completion of works on permanent systematic conservation of stećci in 2010, under a project of the Institute for Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Professional Conservation Service of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an inspection established that the stećci at Radimlja necropolis were in good condition, and that the applied hydrophobic protection resisted well to extreme weather conditions and temperature inversions in most cases.
The appearance of new cracks additionally emphasises the need to implement a site maintenance plan, especially in view of the proximity of a very frequent road and therefore risk of air pollution. However, the area is still affected by construction of facilities in the immediate vicinity and by erosion of part of the Radimlja River bank. In 2011 the entire site underwent geodetic survey supported with photographs of individual stećci thus enabling for implementation of a monitoring process.
(i) Pressure of development
The main problem is in unplanned construction at the 2nd degree of protection and one that is also in contradiction with protection measures defined by the decision on declaring. Along with challenging the integrity of the site, construction of a business zone around the complex would completely eliminate the visual identity of the area. These activities were suspended upon cancellation of the plan adopted by the Municipality of Stolac.
Another problem is in the fact that a relatively busy highway, the only communication of the kind between western and eastern parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, passes through this area. This problem would be completely resolved with the construction of a roundabout on the existing road that would run north of the necropolis, and the construction of a planned roundabout to the Adriatic Sea.
Agriculture in this area does not affect the necropolis.
Activities involving release of waste (organic matters or lubricants) were located in the site immediate vicinity. The problem with this risk would be resolved by dislocating the above activities.
(ii) Pressure of the environment
The road and business facilities cause the largest amount of pollution. The impact of traffic on the stećci and their surroundings is evident. Natural phenomena, primarily harmful actions of water on the stone, produce the most evident adverse impact. This primarily applies to stone cracks that are further deepened and washed out by water. Salts that cause stone cracks due to their changing volume pose additional problems.
Mineral-petrographic features of the stone used for production of the stećci can also change, if macro and micro environmental conditions for these monuments change. Factors and processes of stone degradation vary and usually include the following:
Biological corrosion: primarily referring to algae (in powder form) that, together with fungus and lichen, produce a harmful effect on stone surfaces; fungus (stamps on stone surfaces) and algae together form a base for development of lichen, which has the most adverse impact on stone; lichen (multi-component plants) – calcio corrosive types, specific for the stone, are the most harmful; the threat is manifested by the presence of carbon-dioxide and secretion as a result of a metabolic process (organic and inorganic acids), which damages the stone surface and leads to its corrosion; moss (mostly affects porous and wet stone surfaces); ivy (its strong root breaks through the cracks in the stone structure).
Chemical corrosion: caused by interactions between sulphur and carbon dioxide and humidity, it disintegrates limestone. Some damages in forms of florescence, i.e. crystallisation or “flowering” of stone can be manifested in missing parts of the stećci, or incompleteness of decorative compositions occurred during the original creation of the stećci.
Physical corrosion: temperature inversions, combined with insolation and wind rose, specific for this area, and limestone permeability (2.8%) have some impact on the state of conservation of the stećci in Dugo polje necropolis, but certainly not the same as the combined impact of biological and chemical degradation.
Abrasion and erosion: wind has an effect of constant and mild sandblasting, which leads to a gradual loss of decorative compositions on stone surfaces if not properly protected.
An important problem that may occur is buoyancy of capillary water as well as the negative impact of drainage water (problem specific to graveyard areas).
(iii) Natural disasters and risk response readiness (earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.)
Fires pose an actual threat to the site, especially during the summer, when they happen most frequently, and during the spring agricultural works. The fire-fighting association of Stolac and the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Fire Brigade are active in the area of the site. The site is easily accessible to all available fire-fighting equipment. The wider area of the site with the stećci is active in seismologic and tectonic terms. Concentrations and occurrence of strong earthquakes indicate the presence of constant tectonic activity. Nevertheless, earthquakes cannot significantly affect the monuments, nor have they ever happened since the state of monuments is being more specifically monitored. Given the location and to-date monitoring, floods do not pose any threat. Other natural disasters were not recorded.
(iv) Responsible visitation at World Heritage sites
Recent indicators related to the number and structure of visitors at the Radimlja site, following the completion of works on constant systematic conservation of stećci in 2010, indicate an average of 500 visitors a day.
The visitor structure is diverse and the visits are individual or organised (excursions, cultural events, etc.). Cultural events (literature, film and music) also take place on the site of the necropolis. The site is fully accessible to pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and it is also characterised by an exceptional geo-traffic position, due to the fact that it is in the vicinity of the Adriatic Sea and Mostar with the Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar which is inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHL 946rev). Mostar is connected to Stolac and Radimlja by bus services on a daily basis.
Potential conflicts can occur if there should be a misbalance between the need to protect and preserve the necropolis with stećci at Radimlja and intense tourism, which implies the need for good tourism planning, good presentation and interpretation of the property.
The Management Plan leaves the possibility of creating cultural routes integrating this necropolis too in an integral cultural product aimed at developing cultural tourism, promoting the value of this site and exceptionally valuable property in the areas of the Municipality of Stolac and the region.
(v) Number of inhabitants within the property and the buffer zone
The necropolis with its buffer zone is located outside residential areas. There are a few individual residential objects in its vicinity.
Estimate of inhabitants living within the property: 0.
The exact number of tourists and visitors coming to the nominated site annually is not known. Because of easy access to the necropolis and the fact that it lies on a busy communication it is estimated that at least 20,000 people stay at the site every year, mostly between April and November. Statistical data is available only for the Municipality of Stolac – 50,000 visitors. The current tourist offering only meets the basic requirements, and other than the site itself, there is nothing else there for tourists.
At the site there is an information board of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments and a board placed by an Association for the protection of culture with an explanation of this and the neighbouring sites. There is a visitor centre as well as a parking lot formed to the east of the site. Sanitary facilities exist within the centre. In the immediate vicinity (within 30 km and closer) there are several restaurants and shops. Accommodation facilities are almost non-existent as they were completely devastated in the past war.
The rescue service is poorly organised through the entity service of civil protection, local medical centre and infirmary, police station and fire department.
Protection and promotion?
The Public Institution Radimlja which will take care primarily of protection and promotion of the necropolis is currently in the process of establishment. In 2012 a promotional video clip presenting the touristic potentials of the Municipality of Stolac was made with a large part dedicated to the stećci at Radimlja. Published brochures about the necropolis and a monograph on Stolac also dedicate a lot of space to the stećci at Radimlja.
The website www.agencija-radimlja.com was also developed in the scope of the Public Institution Radimlja.