Medieval Sword Pulled From Polish Bog

Archaeologists believe the well-preserved 600-year-old weapon likely belonged to a knight.

Six hundred years ago, an unlucky knight may have fallen into or lost his sword in a bog filled with peat. That's one explanation researchers are putting forth after an incredibly well-preserved sword was found in a peat-filled bog near the town of Hrubieszów, Poland.

A construction worker who had worked in the area for the past 15 years stumbled upon the late 13th or mid 14th century weapon while using an excavator to drain the bog. Aside from the hilt, the sword had been preserved almost entirely and has since been donated to the local Stanisław Staszic Museum.

Bartłomiej Bartecki, director of the museum, told Polish science journal PAP that the two-handed weapon is a "unique find in the region" but 600 years ago, would have been a typical weapon for knights.

(Read about the ancient bog mummies found in Denmark.)

The region was a part of the Kingdom of Poland starting in 1366. A castle was built in Hrubieszów by a Polish governor and would have been a source of employment for knights, according to the History Blog. The exact location of the bog is not being disclosed to prevent looting.

Museum researchers estimate the nearly four-foot sword weighed just over three pounds at the time it was made.

In an interview with National Geographic, Bartecki clarified that while museum archaeologists are yet to discover the identity of the sword's owner, an isoceles cross in the shape of a heraldic shield on the sword's rear bar would have effectively served as the blacksmith's brand mark.

"It's kind of a medieval company name," he said.

At the time the sword was used, the mark would have been covered by a hilt made of wood, bone, or antler.

The sword has been sent to Warsaw where it will be analyzed and renovated. Researchers hope further markings might reveal more about the identify of the sword's owner. Once it has been examined, the sword will be sent back to Hrubieszów where it will be on display in September.

In the coming days, a team of Polish archaeologists will return to the discovery site. No bones were initially found near the sword's location, but the team hopes to find any possible artifacts or other belongings from the knight.

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