in Recent times a team of Polish archaeologists discovered a Medieval sword and a series of other artifacts on the floor of a Polish lake. The sword and the other objects dates back to about 1,000 years ago, therefore they were linked to the Piast Dynasty, a very influential house in the history of Eastern Europe and crucial for the Christianisation of the Polish country itself.
The recovery was guided by the experts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University and the Piast Museum, this latter named after the very Polish Royal Dynasty. The sword has been found on the bottom of the Lednica lake, explored since the 50’s due to its centrality in Polish history.
The 1st Polish state and the Lednica lake area
The Lednica lake and the surrounding area was very important during the Early Middle Ages, for the development which led to the construction of the 1st Polish state. The lake lays near the 1st capital of the Piast dynasty, where it was set the 1st episcopal see in the nearby Poznań. The duke Mieszko I (930-992), first duke of Polani, from which the name Poland, was baptised and officialised as a Christian on an island of the lake.
The archaeologists explored an area of the lake around the historical island of Ostrów Lednicki, site of an important slavic settlement. The investigation was focused on an area where two ancient bridges had been previously found in 2017. These bridges were linking the island of Ostrów Lednicki to the coast, and the most ancient of the two dates back to the 10th century thanks to dendrochronological analysis. The bridges were 30 m long (98 feet) and they were representing for the time incredible engineering works.
The rare Medieval sword, arrowheads and others
Beside the rests of one of the bridges, the team recovered beyond 20 objects, inside the lake: arrowheads, crossbow arrows, 2 axe heads and a scythe all from the 13th century. Andrzej Pydyn, professor of Archaeology and Marine Archaeology specialist declared:
“this is probably the richest season in the last 12 years. Not only for the number of objects, but also for their value and the context in which they have been found”.
The rare Medieval sword, the precious recovery in this site is today a rusted object but it certainly was a highly decorated blade once. The sword is in reality one of the many swords found in the lake throughout the decades, at it explains professor Pydyn:
“The most sensational discovery of this season of research is the 8th sword found in Lednica lake, the 1st one in 20 years”.
The ancient sword was in perfect conditions and still inside its original leather-made scabbard and it seems that it was preserved by the anoxic environment on the bottom of the lake. The weapon has been analysed with x rays and on the sword is has been found a christian symbol, known as the Jerusalem cross. The crosses were common in Western Europe for some time, but they were extremely rare to be found in Eastern Europe, especially this very type of cross.
But how did it end up on the bottom lake?
The sword and other artifacts are exquisite work of craftmanship and they belonged to a member of the Polish economic élite, perhaps foreign from the city. The weapon and the axe could not belong to a common warrior and they indicate that high rank people would certainly head to Ostrów Lednicki. The finds dates back to the duke Mieszko I, the time where the Polish state was forged by the Piast dynasty.
Below: Mieszko I imagined in the 18th century
Mieszko I was an important member of the Piast dynasty who led the area to tighter relationships with Western Europe, it converted it to Christianity in 966, it expanded it all the way to include Pomerania. The sword belonged perhaps to someone who was character of these historical events and it can provides new knowledge about that crucial period for the history of Poland.