Airborne laser scanning reveals a forgotten Medieval knight’s keep

Archaeologists from University of Łódź discovered a previously unknown knight keep thanks to airborne laser scanning. In 2014 one of the archaeologists in the Institute of Archaeology on University of Łódź stumbled upon a land feature near the village Gieczno while browsing through the Digital Elevation Model being a part of Polish Geoportal. This data has been acquired through precise airborne laser scanning that covered most of the country’s area in recent years. The said land feature had an interesting oval shape forming a platform, measuring circa 33 m in diameter with a clear surrounding ditch and a following rather not high rampart.

Palisade
Relics of the palisade (by Jerzy Sikora)

The excavations that followed, lead by dr Jerzy Sikora of the same institution cut with trenches through the surrounding fortifications and the inner space. It was revealed that the feature was in fact a late Medieval knight keep with two phases of development. In the older phase it had a form of a small earthwork surrounded by a 11m wide ditch and the motte surrounded with a wooden palisade. Acquired dendrochronological samples revealed dates between 1286-1316 and 1355-1389.

Inside the bailey the archaeologists  found relics of wooden buildings together with ceramic pottery shards. They indicated that there was a mansion located there, dated to the second half of the 14th century, forming the second phase of the sites occupation, which stands correct with the acquired dendrochronological data. During that time the rampart was elevated and in its central area a wooden tower was probably erected.

Ornamented wooden ball-shaped object, probably a part of a furniture (by Nauka w Polsce)
Ornamented wooden ball-shaped object, probably a part of a furniture (by Jerzy Sikora)

Despite heavy destruction the archaeologists also obtained a large number of artefacts from the fill of the moat, such as a fragment of a leather shoe, belt and a wooden sphere measuring 5 cm in diameter that probably originally was a decorative part of a wooden furniture from the knight’s keep. In the vicinity of the keep, traces of a bailey have been found, among which remains of a clay furnace.

(after Nauka w Polsce & Jerzy Sikora)

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