Painted coffins among finds during Collegiate Church excavations

Four crypts are being investigated by archaeologists who started excavation in the Collegiate Church  in Stargard, North-western Poland. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the World in Stargard is perhaps the most valuable architectural monument in the Western Pomerania Region. The excavations are conducted in connection with exchange of flooring in the chapel.

Excavation in the Collegiate Church (by M. Majewski)
Excavation in the
Collegiate Church (by M. Majewski)

Archaeologists from the University of Szczecin and Archeologiczno-Historyczne Muzeum (Archaeological-historical Museum) in Stargard discovered the crypts in poor condition due to dampness and high level of ground waters. The burials are in bad condition and their stone covers did not survive, so the identification of the buried is not possible. But judging from the form of the burials and artefacts found inside them it was possible to date the graves to 17th-18th century.

Painted coffin fragment (by M. Szeremeta)
Painted coffin fragment (by M. Szeremeta)

The archaeologists established that the coffins were placed in a column on a metal framing. Up to 5 or 6 coffins were placed in each crypt. Among the finds are fragments of precious cloths, including silk and pieces wooden coffins. Some of the latter bear remains of painted decoration, including a flower or an inscription in Latin. One of the burials was especially interesting to the specialists as the skull of the individual, a young man, was cut in two, probably during an autopsy procedure.

Painted coffin fragment (by M. Majewski)
Painted coffin fragment (by M. Majewski)

(after Nauka w Polsce, M. Majewski & M. Szeremeta)

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