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By Szymon Zdziebłowski
The foundations of one of the outer bailey towers of the Teutonic castle in the Polish town of Elbląg have been unearthed by archaeologists. Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), the discovery was made during exploration of the south-eastern part of the 13th-century castle’s northern ward.
Built between 1246 and 1260 by the Teutonic Knights, the castle was nearly completely destroyed by the Prussian Confederation in 1454, with only cellars and some of the outer bailey buildings surviving. Elbląg was one of the most important centres of the Teutonic Order in Prussia at the initial stage of the Knights’ presence in this area.
“Discussions about the shape and size of the castle have been going on for more than 100 years,” explains Lech Trawicki, director of the Archaeological and Historical Museum in Elbląg. “Although the ruins of the structure were found during earlier excavations carried out on a limited scale, we have never been able to get a full picture of the layout, size and appearance of the castle. Now, thanks to the GPR surveys, it will be possible.”
It was previously known that the structure consisted of a main castle and two outer wards: northern and southern. The main castle was a large brick structure made on the plan of an irregular quadrangle with four built-up wings around the courtyard with a stone cloister. There was probably a tower in the south-east corner. According to some researchers, the main building of the castle in Elbląg was the largest structure of this type ever built in Prussia.
Professor Fabian Welc, head of geophysical research and director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Cardinal Wyszyński University in Warsaw, comments, “We can assume with high probability that legible anomalies are the outline of the foundations of the south-east corner tower of the outer ward and the eastern part of its southern wing. In turn, to the south there is a moat separating the northern ward and the convent house.”
Numerous architectural details recovered both before World War II and later have been helpful in the visual reconstruction of the castle. They include a huge granite column and sculptures from the castle church portal.
To learn more about the castle, please visit the Historical Museum in Elbląg website
Article courtesy Polish Press Agency Foundation (PAP)