Μονή Αγίου Γεωργίου ΒρανοκάστρουPart of : Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία και στη Θράκη ; Vol.10, No.Β, 1996, pages 847-863
The monastery of St. George "Vranokastro"
Among the metochia of the Eikosiphinissis Pangaiou Monastery in Eastern Macedonia, we find references in Patriarchal sigils of the second half of the fifteenth century to the “Patriarchal foundation of holy great martyr and trophy-bearer George Diasorites”. In topographical terms, the Patriarchal foundation of St George is connected with Vranokastro, which has been identified as the fortifications located on a spur of Mt Pangaion near to the community of Palaiochori (Kavala) on its east side.Excavations conducted in 1995 and 1996 to the south of Palaiochori, where the placename “Aghios Yeorgios” (St George) had survived in tradition, revealed the ruins of an extensive monastic complex consisting of a precinct, a katholikon, a refectory and other service buildings. The katholikon was a large three-aisled basilica which developed gradually through a number of building phases. The arrangement of the various service buildings allows it to be con cluded that the monastic complex was generally faithful to the architectural articulation of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monasteries. The successive building phases, in conjunction with the finds from the excavation (pottery, coins, metal items, etc.), indicate that the monastery had a long life-span (from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century). Among the most interesting finds from the excavation was a hoard of 876 silver coins (aspra) of the reign of Sultan Selim I (1512-1520).The portable finds from the excavation, and in particular the pottery and the coins, allow the conclusion to be drawn that the monastery of St George dates from before the thirteenth century. On the basis of the architectural type of the katholikon, the masonry of the church and the finding of four Middle Byzantine slabs from the original sanctuary screen, it seems likely that the buildings were founded in the eleventh century. This view is reinforced by the finding in the katholikon of a stone sun-dial inscribed with the date “1069” in Byzantine numerals.There can be no doubt that the monastic complex located “in the village of Vranokastro” is to be identified with the Patriarchal foundation of St George referred to in the sigils. Although originally constructed as an independent foundation, it was conceded by the Patriarchate to the Eikosiphinissa mona stery after the financial impasse it appears to have reached in the fourteenth century.