Archaeologists working in eastern Poland have unearthed several hundred fragments of tiles that once decorated the walls and floor of a late-medieval stronghold.
A team of archaeologists and historians from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences made the discovery over the summer while excavating the remains of a wooden castle in Żelechów, which lies southeast of Warsaw. The castle was likely built in the mid-15th century, only to be abandoned at the beginning of the 16th century and then burnt down in a fire later that century.
Archaeologists have been on the site since 2017, and this year they removed burnt timbers and clay, which revealed hundreds of fragments that once belonged to a cocklestove, a type of heating device that would have warmed the building. They came in a wide range of colours, including green, yellow, white and blue, and were of a style similar to those found at Wawel Castle, the main royal castle of Polish kings.
“Among its remains we found numerous, beautifully decorated tiles with rich geometric, plant and animal patterns,” says Wojciech Bis from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “There were also images of fantastic animals, including griffin, human figures and coats of arms.”
In addition to tiles, the archaeologists found fragments of ceramic vessels. Among them were thin-walled table dishes designed for serving meals and kitchen utensils for the preparation of dishes. They included pots and pans on three legs. In addition, numerous post-consumption animal bones with traces of cutting and chopping were found, mainly from pigs and oxen. This is evidence of abundant feasts at the castle.
Coins were also discovered, including a silver penny minted during the reign of Wenceslaus IV (1378-1419).