Hay making structures in Slovenia

    How/why/by, whom was it created?

    Research: Drago Kladnik et al. Anton Melik Geographical Institute ZRC SAZU; upload: Bénédicte Gaillard. The entries are still in process


    Dr. Anton Melik was the first researcher of hayracks. He describes the development of hayracks with following words:

    Firstly, a pole was sunk into the ground vertically and was refered as stog. Two of such poles (ostrvi) in a row were gradually supplied with a number of horizontal bars and hung with hay. This device was called koza – kozel – kozolec, taking the name from the term for goat.

    The kozolec first acquired a roof and than a klanica (a broader roof shelter). Two parallel hayracks, when linked with a roof, resulted in the linked kozolec or toplar. However this evolution was never reviewed critically.

    We can find the first evidence of hayracks in Slovenia in the book “Slava vojvodine Kranjske” (1689) by Janez Vajkard Valvasor. It is indicated from the book, that linked haxracsk weren’t widely used at that time.

    In Slovenia, we can find double terminology of hayracks, that is geographically bound, which indicates diversity in the origin and development of the stretched hayrack, as well as linked hayrack. Linked hayrack was developed under the specific circumstances of a moist climate and in order to meet the needs of more highly developed agriculture and animal husbandry. The use of stretched hayrack was simultaneous to use of double/linked hayrack.

    Toplar became indispensable to farming practices, but distribution did not surpass the boundaries of the ethnic territory of Slovenia. According to Cevc, the kozolci sprang up at the meeting point of the Alpine, Mediterranean and Pannonian cultures.

    Haystack in Slovenia

    Haystack in Slovenia

    Hay field in Slovenia

    Hay field in Slovenia

    Hay making in Slovenia

    Hay making in Slovenia


    Hazler V., Hayracks in Slovenia, 2004, Založba kmečki glas

    Cevc T., Čop J., Slovene hay-rack

    How is it used today?

    Hayracks are slowly vanishing from Slovene agricultural landscape, due to the fact, that in most cases, they are no longer functional, however it takes a lot of means to build and / or maintain them.

    It is rare that you can see a hay drying in a stretched hayrack nowadays.

    Toplars are nowadays still used by farmers, especially for storage of agricultural machinery, tools, fodder (hay bales, straw bales, maize, etc.).

    We can still find carpenters that are making kozolec or toplar, some in a smaller version with no function, related to agriculture (e.g. http://www.belaj.si/izdelava-kozolcev/)

    Some are still made in a typical way (eg. http://www.tesarstvo-napotnik.si/galerija/kozolci/ , but their usual role is no longer hay-drying or storage, but more often socialising and providing touristic-culinary services.

    Is it combined with/connected to something typical (traditional)?

    Building type connected to hay making – for animal fodder – so it is connected to animal husbandry.

    About awareness

    Well known to public

    Do you have national approaches towards this landscape type?

    The kozolec is storage for hay, straw and other crops, however drying grain, hay and corn is its most important use. The storage of crops is important, since all crops have to be stored in a different way. This chore is very labour intensive and it will soon become folklore (if not already – my personal remark).

    Traditional harvesting with a sickle or a scythe is only practiced in areas, where there is no possible way to do it in a mechanical way, otherwise, this chore was mostly replaced by modern combine harvesters.

    At the edges of Slovene lands, there are regions where hayracks aren’t used. Drying devices used there are simple and usually of temporary nature, however they are of great ethnological interest as they remind us of a culture of Slavic forfathers upon their arrival in their new Alpine homeland.

    These devices are called stog, ostrvi and a simple kozolec (no roof).

    The real kozolec is the one with a roof. Streched hayracks are made of horizontal bars, that are fastened to a strong wooden, stone or concrete poles/pillars. The roof shelters the drying crops from the rain.

    These poles are usually 4-5 m appart and are called window (they also have several local names).

    One kozolec can be long up to 30 “windows”, the smallest ones are made from one or two. Kozolec is usually 4-5 meters high, which is lower to hayracks that are known elsewhere in the Alps. There is not a lot of historical evidence of hayracks from the past – drawing from Slava vojvodine Kranjske, a fresco paintings from 18th century and some external written sources.

    The Streached cloaked hayrack is widely used in Slovenia. These are made in a way, that between one “window” there are two parallel poles with lesser hight, connected with a roof. The purpose of these cloaked part is to place farming tools and wagons. Thy are found in Gorenjska, Dolenjska region, along Sava river and Savinja valley. This shed is meant for temporary storage of tools, however never a storage for the crops as in “goat hayracks.

    Double stretched hayracks are two parallel stretched hayracks, built in a distance of 4-5 m and linked to each other with transverse poles. These came in use in 20th century. This was an emergency measure, to stabilise sinking wooden hayracks. They are typical for Dolenjska region.

    Linked hayracks – toplarji.

    Toplars were probably a result of economic situation in transition from Medieval to New age, when the agricultural techniques improved. Also there was an improvement of building techniques, which enabled storage of more abundant and diverse harvest and at the same time room for treshing. On the other hand, with arrival of toplars, single hayracks were in decline – they were replaced by barns.

    As the stretched hayracks were positioned mostly on the fields and meadows, the toplars were positioned near stables and barns as they served for storing hay. There are bigger differences between toplars than between stretched hayracks – the size and shape of toplar presents a social status of peasants – the ones of small farmers are simple and small, while those owned by the landowners are of large proportions and are very carefully designed, and can also be ornamented. Toplars were object of its owners pride, sometimes a matter of real attachment.