Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Medieval longsword discovered in a peat bog in Poland.

It was discovered in late May by excavator operator Wojciech Kot during drainage operations at the bog in the municipality of Mircze, 12 miles south of the town of Hrubieszów in southeastern Poland. 

"The place where the discovery was made is a wetland and a peat bog. It is possible that an unlucky knight was pulled into the marsh, or simply lost his sword" - told PAP Bartłomiej Bartecki, director of Fr. Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów.

 "It is very light - it originally weighed about 1.5 kg. Today it measures about 120 cm" - added Bartecki. In his opinion the sword was very well made; it is well balanced, perfect for fencing.

On the rear bar of the weapon there is a clear sign of an isosceles cross inscribed in the shape of an heraldic shield, probably made by the blacksmith. Bartecki explained that it was a kind of a maker's brand. This symbol was normally not visible, because the bar was covered by a hilt made of wood, bone or antler.

The area first appears on the historical record in the 13th century where it’s mentioned as the site of a few hunting lodges surrounded by forest. The region was part of Ruthenia (aka the Kievan Rus) then and was absorbed by the Kingdom of Poland in 1366 century after the disintegration of the Rus. The Polish governor built a castle in Hrubieszów in the late 14th century. So at least the second half of the century offered good employment opportunity for knights. Or he could have just been riding through and made a wrong turn into the bog.

This astonishing piece was apparently found near to what today is the border between Ukraine and Poland, west of the Bug river. It would be great, however, if that isosceles cross inside an heraldic shield would reveal further information. 
What today is the North of Poland had in the 13th century been object of the ‘Prussian Crusades’ (‘Lithuanian Crusade’ in the 14th c), during which the Teutonic Knights attempted to ‘Christianize’ the pagan Old Prussians and Lithuanians. 
In return, and much less ‘Teutonic’, the influence of the Jagiellonian dynasty increased massively in the 14th c. and in the South they fought the ‘Turkish and Tatar wars’. In 1320, most of the principalities of the western Rus’ had either been vassal or annexed by Lithuania.

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