History & Culture

The search for the graves of the knights of Grunwald will begin this fall

Photo: PAP 2013/Adam Warżawa
Photo: PAP 2013/Adam Warżawa

Where exactly was the Grunwald battle fought, and is there a chance to find the graves of the knights at Grunwald - archaeologists will look for answers to these questions in autumn. The study will be a joint project of researchers from Poland, Denmark, Norway and Lithuania.

Museum of the Battle of Grunwald has just signed an agreement to carry out research with the Danish historical association Harja from Odense. The search will begin in September.

"Under the agreement, Danish and Norwegian members of the association will assist archaeologists in the search of the exact location of the battle of 1410. Participants in this study will look for the Great Stream Valley, where, according to written sources, allied forces clashed with Teutonic Knights" - told PAP Sławomir Moćkun of the Museum of the Battle of Grunwald.

He added that the Danish partners will cover the cost of research.

Danes and Norwegians who will come to Grunwald will be equipped with metal detectors. The search will be conducted under archaeological supervision.

Moćkun added that Harja Archaeological Association based in the Danish Odense was founded in 1971. It is one of the oldest, largest and most experienced organizations of its kind in Europe. It currently brings together more than a hundred people. It conducts scientific, popular science and archaeological activity, including underwater archaeology.

Director of the Museum of the Battle of Grunwald Szymon Drej told PAP that scientists expect that this year’s search will help verify hypotheses concerning the location of the battle of 1410. So far it is not known exactly where the battle of Grunwald took place. According to written sources (Jan Dlugosz chronicles), one of the most important places of the battle was the Great Stream Valley, and the search will focus on finding this place.

The first serious archaeological research Grunwald was conducted in 1911 and associated with the search for mass graves in the church in Stębark.

According to the most comprehensive source - "Annals or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland" by Jan Długosz - after the battle, noble Polish and Teutonic knights were buried there. Unfortunately, the research did not turn up any traces of burials of which Długosz wrote.

According to director Drej, systematic archaeological research started only in 1958, in connection with the 550th anniversary of the battle. The archaeological research continued with intervals until 1990. The oldest excavations were treated by the communist governments as extremely prestigious . The Ministry of Defence provided researchers not only with helicopters, cars, mobile field phones, divers, but also brought the 160 soldiers to help.

Drej explained that at the time archaeologists selected 30 locations on the alleged battlefield area of 15 July 1410, that is, between the villages Stębark, Grunwald and Łodwigowo, and beyond. It was decided to also explore the areas, which the two armies coming to the battlefield were believed to cross, including primarily the Polish-Lithuanian town Dąbrówno, burned down before the main battle, the Teutonic Knights fortress in Gardyny, as well as the places some historians believed to be locations of Polish-Lithuanian and Teutonic camps.

In the 1960s, about 200 skeletons were discovered in the vicinity of a Teutonic chapel. They bore traces of injuries. Some of the discovered the remains came from secondary burials, meaning that they were transferred from other places. Most likely, according to Drej, they were the remains found over time on the battlefield during the field work and transferred to the "consecrated ground" in the vicinity of the chapel.

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