Discoveries of a hoard of coins, tower and a tunnel at Człuchów Teutonic Castle

Archaeologists finished the ninth season of excavations of the Teutonic Order’s castle in Człuchów, North Poland, revealing remains of a rectangular tower which contained many surprises.

Rectangular tower unearthed by archaeologists (by Marek Truszkowski)

Archaeologists carried out excavations at the second inner ward of the castle, revealing remains of a rectangular tower. It is believed that the structure was located on the northern side of the gate between the second and third ward of the castle. Each side of the tower measures 10.5 metres. The structure survived at the level of the basement. Archaeologists managed only to uncover only the highest level of the tower so far, but initial assessment proves that there is a second level below.

The coin hoard in situ (by Maciej Kurdwanowski)

During the excavations a hoard of silver coins was discovered, hidden in the basement of the tower. The coins date to 17th century. They were issued by Sigismund III Vasa, John II Casimir Vasa, George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Leopold V, Archduke of Austria. Archaeologists believe that the coins were hidden during the siege of the castle by Swedish forces around 1655-56 during the occupation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by Sweden. Along them, few thousands of other artefacts were discovered on course of excavations, including glass vessels, parts of weapons, cannon ball, fitting made from antlers, ornamented tiles, and shards of numerous pottery vessels.

Coins found during excavations (by Maciej Kurdwanowski)

The researchers managed to establish three phases of use of the basement, starting from the times of the Teutonic Order, when a hypocaust furnace existed there and heated the structure. The basement was accessible then through a narrow staircase. In the later phase a passage was made in the northern wall and new stairs were placed there, that allowed the basement to be accessed from the second inner ward. The last phase is connected with the collapse of the original vaulting, filling in the lower level and creation of a new barrel vaulting. All lower staircases were walled up then.

Staircase in the tower (by Maciej Kurdwanowski)
Remains of a hypocaust furnace (by Maciej Kurdwanowski)

Moreover, a ventilation shaft leading straight down was discovered, measuring 50 by 54 centimetres. It was excavated to the depth of 5.6 metres below the wall surface. At this depth the soil became waterlogged and endangered further exploration. At this depth a side tunnel was found, which lead down at a 45 degree angle. Its upper part was made with granite blocks. The tunnel is 57 centimetres wide. Archaeologists believe it served as an additional ventilation shaft.

The shaft found in the tower (by Maciej Kurdwanowski)

(after Maciej Kurdwanowski, Marek Truszkowski, TVN24, RMF24, Muzeum Regionalne w Człuchowie & Nauka w Polsce)

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