Noratus (Noraduz ) an ancient settlement abundant with many monuments of Bronze and Iron Age is five kilometers north-east from Gavar on the right bank of Gavaraget in Gegharkunik Marz. A present-day village was founded in 1829 and is located at the height of 1934 meters above the sea level. Noratus is famous for its countless cross stones (khachkars) and for that very reason, it was therefore named a forest of cross stones. A cross stone is a unique art of stone carving and has a very “Armenian” expression and content. An unparalleled collection of art works of stone displayed in the outdoor museum creates a mysterious impression about Armenia. It is believed that a medieval fortress and village of Gegharkunik founded and built by Gegham Nahapet was then called Noratunse (new houses).
Preserved medieval structures date back to 9-17 centuries. Noratus cemetery built to save the souls of the dead is very prominent and significant and it is all covered by innumerous cross stones which served as a tombstone. Ancient monuments and fragments of obelisk and cross stones of early stage are preserved. The majority of 13-17 century cross stones are grouped to make a family cemetery. The area is covered with small or projected in a rectangular shape sepulchers and numerous cross stones. The oldest stones dated to 1211 and scattered in the village are dedicated to the construction of the bridge. A number of talented craftsmen and stone carvers, such as Melikset, Nerses, Kiram and others created in Noradus. At present, Noratus cross stones field is considered the biggest complex of the Armenian khachkar art after the destruction of the Jugha cross stones. One of the legends describes the enemy’s invasion into the region and their battle against them with the prince Gegham. Here is the story. Armenians, having a small number of soldiers, inventively dressed the cross stones in military uniforms and created an illusion of a large and powerful army from the distance. The enemy fled in terror and Gegham together with his soldiers defeated the adversary. Saint Holly Mother Church built by Prince Sahak in the 9th century is in the center of Noratus village. St. Gregory Church is in the north-east, which probably dates to 9-10 centuries. Bronze belt, arrowheads, bracelets, beads, iron dagger, clay plates and other items were discovered, when the sepulchers of Bronze and Iron era were excavated in the Shor-Gyol area near Noratus. Despite the fact, that for centuries many foreign non-Christian invaders intended to destroy Armenian values and traces of global civilization from the Armenian land, the tradition of cross stone carving had never been forgotten and this art is still an indispensable part of our Armenian culture.