Two axes from the Battle of Grunwald discovered

Archaeologists working in Poland have found dozens of artefacts from the area of the Battle of Grunwald, including two well-preserved battle axes.

The Battle of Grunwald, also known as the Battle of Žalgiris or the Battle of Tannenberg, took place on 15 July 1410, and saw the allied forces of the Poland and Lithuanian defeat the Teutonic Knights in what is considered one of the largest battles fought in medieval Europe.


Seventy archaeologists took part in this year’s dig on an undisclosed site near the battlefield, where the also discovered a fragment of a medieval short sword along with dozens of arrow and spearheads. Previous research has uncovered over 1,500 artefacts, of which at least 150 can be directly linked to the battle. These are mainly pieces of offensive and defensive weapons, arrow and quarrel heads, pieces of swords and knights’ belts, horse spurs and Teutonic coins.

The axes, described as an archaeological sensation, would have been used in hand-to-hand combat and are in such good condition that they even have the rivets that attached them to the hafts.


“In seven years of our archaeological research, we have never had such an exciting, important and so well-preserved find,” explains Dr. Szymon Drej, Director of the Museum of the Battle of Grunwald. “The context of these finds, preliminary dating to the 15th century and the typology of axes clearly indicate that they are directly related to the Battle of Grunwald of July 15, 1410.”

The most valuable find to date has been two Teutonic clasp with the Gothic inscription ‘Ave Maria’, used to fasten coats, and a medieval seal with the image of a pelican feeding its young with blood.

According to the museum, by comparing the locations of these finds with the map of the area they were able to confirm that the Teutonic camp had been located in the place where the post-battle chapel, consecrated in 1413, was built on the order of Grand Master Heinrich von Plauen. It also helped determine the location of the main battle, not on the Stębark – Łodwigowo line, as it was previously believed, but closer to the village of Grunwald.

The archaeologists are also searching for mass graves associated with the battle. So far, burial sites have only been found inside and near the ruins of the battle chapel. During archaeological excavations in the 1960s and 1980s, bones of around 300 men were discovered, but several thousand died during the battle.


Top Image: Battle axes presented at the press conference on the finds from this year’s search in the fields of Grunwald, May 29, at the Museum of the Battle of Grunwald in Stębark. Detectorists and archaeologists searched nearly 60 hectares of fields around Grunwald. The finds include two well-preserved battle axes used in the battle. PAP/Tomasz

Article courtesy PAP – Science in Poland