Historical facts

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The village of SLON is the last northern human settlement developed on an ancient Roman road ("via strata") which was built after the 102AD war, partially deteriorated with the passing of time, and restored by the German troops during World War I.
The above mentioned Roman "via strata" crossing SLON was the "backup" road of another parallel "via strata", much larger, built for heavier traffic, at a distance of only 10 km west, on the valley of river Teleajen.

The two Roman roads were paved with stone (some parts may be seen even today), having the purpose to connect Moesia Superior (actual Transylvania) to Moesia Inferion (actual southern Romania and further Black Sea harbours).

The particularity of SLON Roman "via strata" is that the road is the only high altitude road (connecting the peaks Tataru Mare -1476 m, Varful lui Crai -1473 m, etc.) known in this part of Europe, being the shortest way for crossing the Carpathians from south to north.
In order to ensure the security and administrate the "via strata", the Romans have built a number of casters. These casters have been made using stones and bricks, some of which, keeping the engraved stamp of "Legion I-st Italica" may still be found and are exposed in local museums (i.e. the museum of the neighbouring Maneciu Village). One caster is situated in the neighbouring southern village of Drajna (about 10 km south from SLON), and one up in the mountains, about 15 km north from SLON, neighbouring the peak called Varful lui Crai (transl: "The Peak of The Crown Emperor").

The shape of the last mentioned one may very well be seen today, showing the typical Roman infrastructure and facilities, like the Roman bath (there may still be found the burned stones of this bath), and a couple of chambers.

The region where SLON is placed was for a very long period of time, between the XIVth and XIXth centuries, a custom and a trade centre linking southern Romanian kingdom to Austrian-Hungarian Empire (Transylvania was in that time under Austrian-Hungarian administration).
Thus, the ancient name of the whole region including SLON, given under the administration law between 1645 and 1845, was "judetul Sacuienilor" (the county of "Szekely" people). This was because of the general name given to the Transylvanian inhabitants travelling and trading here, some of them being of Hungarian origin (the Hungarian name of this Transylvanian mixture of population is "szekely", translated in Romanian as "secui" or "sacui").

There are a sum of historical documents dated the XIV century (1358) attesting some privileges given by the authorities (i.e. Ludovic the Great) to the traders from Brasov (Transylvania), to freely transport and sell their goods (wine, oil, cheese, wool, etc.) in southern "Szekely County", allowing them to pass the custom through the ancient Roman roads.

This is where some geographical names are coming from; for instance from the barrels of wine and oil (Romainan word "Butii") transported by traders from Brasov, they gave name to the high mountain pass "Tabla Butii" (Translation: "The Plateau of The Barrels").

Because of the intense trade between the two kingdoms, the Austrian ­Hungarian authorities have built in this region some custom fortified points, mentioned in the chronicles from the XVIIth century (i.e. Radu Greceanu's Chronicle), as "the German fortifications".
Some of these fortified XVIIth century Austrian-Hungarian custom points are believed to be erected on, or nearby previously IXth -Xth century fortifications, on the ancient Roman roads.

Thus, Romanian historian Grigore Tocilescu wrote in his study "Dacia inainte de Romani" (Dacia before the Romans), Bucuresti, 1880, p.559 -566, that some engraved marks found on the bricks and stones of SLON fortifications, were not from the pre-Roman era as it was believed before by another historian (Cezar Bolliac -"Trompeta Carpatilor" review no. 737, 1869), but from early­mediaeval period, and the building material was used by the "Germans" for their own custom fortifications afterwards.

The situation was clarified in late 1960' by archaeologist dr. Maria Comsa who performed some deep field research in SLON (she has written a research study: "Studii si materiale privitoare la trecutul istoric al jud. Prahova" [Study and material research regarding Prahova County history], Ploiesti 1969), and uncovered the following:

  • 2 km north from SLON is an early mediaeval fortification in the place called by locals "La Ciuga" (approx. transl: "To the High Hill"). The fortification is build by blocks of stone and bricks, dated the IXth -Xth centuries;
  • further in the north, at a place called "Dealul Grohotisului" (approx. transl: "The Hill of Huge Stones") there is another fortification, having been found there stones and bricks engraved with some marks dating from the IXth -Xth centuries (the presumed pre-Roman marks mentioned by Cezar Bolliac);
  • much further in the north, at a place called "Dealul Cetatii" (transl: "The Hill of The Fortified Citadel") there is another fortification dated the same period (i.e. the IXth -Xth centuries). 

Some other related arguments:

  • "La Ciuga" fortification is officially dated the IXth -Xth centuries, according to Romanian Ministry of Culture; (see Law no. 5 / 6 March 2000)
  • Web links about Slon and related mediaeval fortifications may be found in the  Viewpoints on the Fortress at Tabla Bu?ii in the Light of Archaeological Excavations by Adrian Ionita
  • "La Ciuga" and Tabla Butii are mentioned by Law no. 5 / 6 March 2000, pos. nr. J 12 and J 13 and the village of Slon - belonging to comunality of Cerasu is mentioned by this law as national interest historical patrimony in Prahova county. Regarding the archaeological protected zones, published in "Monitorul Oficial" no. 152 / 12 April 2000, see the law

But the most interesting part is the foundation of the village of SLON itself, and the origin of its name.

Synthetically, this whole region is a mixture of settlers, some of them originally dwellers from the Roman or pre-Roman period -fact proven by the very name of some villages as:

  • the village of CERASU, 2 km south from SLON (the origin of the word CERASU is derived from the Latin word "cerasus", meaning "cherry tree", because the presence of many wild black cherry trees grown on the surrounding hills);
  • the village of BATRANI, about 10 km east from SLON (the origin of the world BATRANI is derived from the Latin world "veteranus", meaning the ancient warriors -the veterans);
  • the village of MANECIU, about 7 km west from SLON (the origin of the word MANECIU is derived from the Latin word "maneo -manere", meaning "to stay, to remain there"), etc.

Because of the mistreatment given by Austrian-Hungarian authorities to Transylvanian people (mostly Romanian by origin) after the 1784 peasants' uprising leaded by Horia, Closca and Crisan, and because they feared for authorities retaliation, some peasants (shepherds, traders, farmers, craftsmen, etc.) have crossed the border to the "safer" southern Romanian kingdom. Most of them have settled as refugees in the nearest region -"judetul Sacuienilor" ("The County of the Szekely people").

It was the period when 38 "Hungarian localities" were formed in this region. This aspect is mentioned by historian dr. Emil Vrabie in his study published in "Magazin Istoric" (History Magazine), April 1984, adding as supporting argument (besides other proves), the very names of the villages as: Maneciu Ungureni (Transl: "The Hungarian Maneciu"), Homoraciu Ungureni (Transl: "The Hungarian Homoraciu"), Posestii Ungureni (transl: "The Hungarian Posesti"), etc., including SLON.

Note that the omnipresent "Hungarian" patronymic name was not meaning that the refugees were all Hungarians, but it suggested that people came from the Austrian -Hungarian Empire, commonly referred to, by colloquial speaking, as "The Hungarian Country" (Romanian transl.: "Tara Ungureasca") or "The German Country" (Romanian transl.: "Tara Nemteasca").

It was the same situation with the northernmost village of SLON, including the name origin, for which we have a couple of theories.

Both of the theories are based on the fact that the word "SLON" is really untypical for Romanian language, meaning nothing intelligible, and having no connections what-so-ever with other common Romanian patronymic. This is because Romanian patronymic names are generally formed by the name of the original founding family (or by the name of the landlord), such as: Dragomiresti (meaning The village of Dragomir family), or Stanesti (meaning The village of Stanescu or Stan family), or even Romania's capital Bucuresti (meaning ­founded by Bucur the shepherd), etc.

The first theory is based on the fact that in the period between the XIVth and the XVIIth centuries, in the nearest region, Austrian-Hungarian authorities have built many custom fortification points -fact proven by chronicles mentioning the "German custom fortifications".

Thus, SLON may be derived from the German word "Zollen" (meaning, "to pay custom taxes"), pronounced with Romanian accent very close to "Slon".

The second theory is much profound in history, based on the formation of a mix of population, i.e. Transylvanian refugees with local ancient dwellers, originating from the Roman or even pre-Roman period, knowing that in the Carpathian high mountainous region, there has been some Celtic influence, due to the invasion of Celtic tribes, which further mixed with local Dacians or Daco-Romans.

Some supporting facts:

  • According to web source http://www.ecovalahia.ro/p_istorie.html, in the neighbourhood of the village Drajna (about 7 km south from SLON), the genuine Dacian flag, symbolising a wolf head, has been found;
  • According to Greek historian Ptolemeus, there was a Dacian city fortification (pre-Roman period) called "Rumidava", placed in the mountainous region of actual southern Romania, which has been localised by researchers, according to historian dr. Napoleon Savescu in, or neighbouring the village of Drajna (about 7 km south from SLON).

Thus, according to The American Heraldic Institute, Sacramento, California (References: Heraldic-Burkes General Armoury-pg-934, Richmond, Herald of England, Lyon Registry of Scotland-Genealogical-ibid-Clan Things of Scotland -pg 197, Onomatological-Reaney-British Surnames) the name of "SLON" is of ancient Celtic origin, also found as a root word in ancient Gaelic as "Sluaghan", meaning “soldier” or “warrior” (variants: "Sluaghain" or "Sluagahadain") and indicates the origin of the version of the Celtic word "Sluagh" which means the "leader of a military expedition".

Or else, in other German related countries as Norway, the root of the word "SLON" may be found from "Slaaen" (The Norwegian "aa" is pronounced as a long "o" so "Slaaen" is pronounced as "Sloan"), where "Slaa" (or Slå) means "to cut the grass", since the village of SLON is high up in the mountain, and mowing the grass is the main activity of the people during the summer period, and this may be probably a deeper, farther origin of the name...

The name may be found today in many Germanic and Anglo-Saxon countries, spelled also: Slughain, Sluaighin, Slone, Slon, Sloyan, Sloyne, Sloan, Sloane and others of which the two spellings last mentioned are the most frequently found in common persons names.

But whichever would be the correct variant of the origin for SLON patronymic, there is only one final conclusion.

The history of this region drives deep back to the Roman or even pre-Roman period, continuously developing through early-mediaeval period and then emerging through the late-mediaeval period with a unique mixture of civilisations and cultures, on the same ancient Roman roads ("via strata") connecting the two Romanian kingdoms, revealing captivating spots as the ancient fortifications, which could be of much interest for any tourist willing to taste the real history within a pure, untouched environment.