The beginning of 2024 brought an accidental archeological discovery in Poland’s Hrubieszów region. Mr. Mateusz Filipowicz was exploring the state-owned forests near Hrubieszów when he came across a cache of several iron objects.

At first, it was difficult to identify the items due to heavy corrosion and mud coating the metal.

Everything was clustered together just beneath the leaf litter in an area disturbed by logging machinery and animal activity. This led to the discovery of one object on the surface followed by others nearby.

Several dozen kilograms of rusted and muddy iron were carefully packaged to transport to the forest for cleaning and identification.

It quickly became clear this was an archeological finding. The discoverers contacted the Hrubieszów Museum and within hours, the entire collection was brought there along with a full report of the discovery circumstances and approximate location.

Museum archeologists Bartłomiej Bartecki and Anna Hyrchała conducted a preliminary analysis and evaluation.

Based on documentation from the Monument Protection Delegation (AZP), no archeological sites were previously known from the discovery area.

The collection consists of several artifact types. Preliminarily, they include:

  • 9 iron spear points ranging from 25.5 to 34.5 cm in length and 5 to 6.5 cm blade widths.
  • 2 iron battle axes, one 23.5 cm long with a 7 cm blade and a slightly smaller one at 19 cm long by 5 cm blade.
  • 1 tubular or woodcutting axe (to be clarified after conservation) measuring 17 cm long, 6 cm wide, and 4 cm blade height.
  • 3 very difficult to identify objects, possibly including: 1 iron shield hook (21.5 cm long, 6.5 cm wide) and 2 iron tips or cinders (22 and 25.5 cm long, 4 cm wide).

Who hid so many weapons here and why? That’s a much harder question. But some clues may help archeologists cautiously form theories.

First, these were likely arms used by barbarian tribes during the Roman Empire period. Perhaps warriors from the local Przeworsk culture (1st c. BC – 2nd/3rd c. AD), identified with Vandal or Gothic communities (2nd/3rd – 5th c. AD). Notably, many years ago during construction of the border guard station in nearby Horodło, a Przeworsk warrior burial was uncovered—the culture’s northernmost known site.

The number and character of artifacts, deposition method, and preservation state rule out this being a cemetery or single grave. No bones or pottery sherds were found during field verification as expected at a burial site.

Everything suggests someone intentionally assembled these items, packed them in an organic bag or container (of which no traces remain) and discarded it in the swampy area.

This spot, like in the past, was probably very wet and hard to access. It’s possible the wetlands mentioned in the forest are remnants of large water bodies or river floods.

Local monument authorities were immediately notified and all necessary formal steps were taken. The pieces were transferred by the monument conservator to the collection of the Father Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów, which will proceed with protection and conservation work.

Only after this can the finding be properly determined, along with its chronological and cultural attribution.

For years when guiding visitors, we mentioned ancient Gothic weapons must be somewhere in the Hrubieszów land, as they did not place iron objects in graves. Perhaps these spears, swords, axes and other military gear are finally found…

Who cast this group into the river or swamp? Perhaps Vandals or Goths. Let’s await the final answer – this is surely one of the most interesting discoveries in recent years! Not very appealing now but will be spectacular after rust removal and conservation.


Sources

Lubelski Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków (Curator of Monuments of Lublin Voivodeship)


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