Natural Fortress Built to Prevent Outside Invasion
Gochang-eup Fortress was built by the citizens of Jeolla-do to protect themselves from outside invasions in the first year of King Danjong's reign during the Joseon Dynasty (1453).
As also known as Moyangseong, Gochang-eup Fortress was built as an outpost to defend the Honam inland area in connection with Ibamsanseong Fortress in Najujingwan. It was designated as the historical site no. 145 on April 1st of 1965. The fortress has a circumference of 1,684 meters. The fortress is as high as 4-6 meters has an area of 165,858㎡ (50,172 pyeong). It was equipped with three gates, one each to the east, west and north, six castles, trenches outside the fortress and other strategic facilities. Originally the Gochang-eup Fortress had 22 government buildings including Magistrate’s Office and inns, which were all burnt down during a war. Since 1976, fourteen government buildings and some of the fortress have been restored.
There is no definite record as to when this fortress was built, but some of the execution records of building construction, various documents, and letters engraved on the fortress walls, show that the fortress was said to be built from the 32th year of King Sejong’s reign during the Joseon Dynasty (1450) to the first year of King Danjong. Each of the 19 counties and prefectures of Jeollajwa/wu-do took part in building section. Each section of the fortress shows engraved traces of the builders. Among them are Mujangsimyeon and Mujangjong. The East Gate Wall has the letters that read Gye-Yu-So-Chuk-Gam-Dong-Song-Ji-Min, which can be translated that Gochang-eup Fortress, built in the year that the prefectures of Gyeyu and Mujang participated in the construction.
Sinjeungdonggukyeojiseungram and Gochanghyeonseonggwakjo were the documents in which the records of Gochang-eup Fortress appeared for the first time. Sinjeungdongbukyeojiseungram was published in the 25th year of King Jungjong’s reign (1530). However, only two letters ‘Sinjeung’ were marked on Jeungbocheo. During the reign of King Seongjong, Donggukyeojiseungram was edited two times according to the Royal Order by Kim Jongjik and finally was published before the 17th year of King Seongjong's reign (1484) and the year of Gyeyu can be considered as the year of foundation. Mujanghyeon prefecture was established by merging Musonghyeon Prefecture and Jangsahyeon Prefecture in the 17th year of King Taejon’s reign (1417). The year of Gyeyu from the letters Gye-Yu-So-Chuk means after the year of 1417. Therefore, it seems reasonably sure that Gochangeup Fortress was built in 1453, the year of Gyeyu.
Fortress treading has been handed down and preserved as a unique folk custom. The oral tradition states that if you walk around the fortress with a stone on your head once, all diseases will be cured. if you walk around three times, you will go to paradise. The best days for fortress treading are in March on the lunar calendar, particularly the 6th, 16th and 26th, when the gate to the other world opens. The reason for putting a stone on your head and walking around it three times is to harden the fortress, which has been loosened during the winter and thawing season and to prepare for war by gathering stones after walking around the fortress. We can understand our ancestors’ wisdom through the folk play and their way of life, in which people were not mobilized by force, but participated voluntarily.