You are here
Discovery at Wisłoujście Fortress by University of Gdańsk archaeologists
Over two thousand artefacts, remains of a barracks and foundations of St. Olaf’s Church have been uncovered by a group of 12 archaeologists from the University of Gdańsk during a dig in the Szaniec Wschodni (Eastern Sconce) at the Wisłoujście Fortress in Gdańsk. The results of the two-week archaeological work have been presented by the spokesman of the Museum of Gdańsk, Andrzej Gierszewski.
Wisłoujście Fortress is a complex of defensive buildings on the right (eastern) bank of the Dead Vistula, erected at the spot which in the Middle Ages housed coastal watchtowers which controlled the mouth of the Vistula. The complex comprises two forts: a four-bastion brick Fort carré (built in 1586-1602) and the surrounding five-bastion ground, at present referred to as the Eastern Sconce (Szaniec Wschodni) from 1624-1626. Wisłoujście Fortress is one of the branches of the Museum of Gdańsk and occupies an area of circa 12 hectares.
During their work, archaeologists excavated two trenches at the location where St. Olaf’s Church and a barracks had been marked on Jan Strakowski’s 1673 map. According to Gierszewski, St. Olaf’s Church is one of the most interesting churches situated within what is today the city of Gdańsk which changed its location at least ten times.
"There are few churches dedicated to St. Olaf in the Teutonic Order’s dominion in Prussia and Pomerania. They were established mainly in the 12th-14th centuries so the ministry in Wisłoujście might have been run long before its first mention in 1403. The chapel - +Olai Kapelle+ - is referred to for the first time in 1476. There are two theories. It is assumed that the establishment of the chapel was connected with the activity of the Brotherhood of St. Olaf at St. Mary’s Church but also it may well be a distorted reference to the Chapel of St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors and fishermen … The remains of the last church, known from photographs and maps, were discovered to the south-west of the location of this year’s dig, near the site of today’s rectory”, said Waldemar Ossowski, Director of the Museum of Gdańsk, quoted in the press release.
Head of the archaeological works, Dr Joanna Dąbal from the UG, admitted that research carried out in the Wisłoujście area was a challenging task. "The area has been heavily transformed by humans and before we reached the 17th-century layers we were looking for, we had to document the buildings erected here in the 19th and 20th centuries. Strakowski’s maps proved exceptionally precise. Thanks to them we were able to find not only the fundaments of the church but also numerous metal objects such as bullets, metal adornments, knives, a cleaver as well as a great number of coins and one jetton. However, we mostly found ceramics and although we would come across only single fragments, we were delighted by the local produce with depictions of the Gdańsk coat of arms ", explained Dr Dąbal.
Archaeological work at the Wisłoujście Fortress will be continued for the next three years as part of the Archaeobalt project, co-financed from EU funds within the South Baltic 2014-2020 programme. The enterprise, at a cost of over 2 million euros, will be implemented by five entities: leader of the project ─ the University of Gdańsk and partners: the Museum of Gdańsk, the Museum of Bornholm, Aarhus University (Denmark) and Lund University (Seden).
Source (in Polish): PAP - Nauka w Polsce, Robert Pietrzak