An extremely rare medieval gold artefact has been found in the depths beneath a tower of the Wawel Royal Castle in Poland, which served as a residence for Polish kings for centuries.
The artefact, a decorated gold ring, was found by researcher Jerzy Trzebinski during ongoing excavations and investigations at Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, the second-largest city in the European country.
Trzebinski found the gold ring beneath a part of the castle known as the Danish Tower, which is one of the structure’s four residential towers. The castle itelf forms part of a fortified medieval architectural arrangement that sits on top of a limestone outcrop named Wawel Hill, on the bank of the Vitsula River.
It is claimed that the complex is the most historically and culturally significant site in the whole of Poland, featuring several buildings of great importance, like the Wawel Cathedral and the castle.
The former was constructed roughly 1,000 years ago and at one time served as the site where Polish monarchs were crowned and buried. The current castle’s construction is believed to have begun in the 13th or 14th centuries, although the building has been added to over time.
The castle served as the residence of Polish kings for hundreds of years, but it now houses one of the most popular art museums in Poland.
The Site in Poland Where the Gold Ring was Found
The Wawel Hill site comprises part of the Historic Center of Krakow, which was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1978. The historic center, the former capital of Poland, is located at the base of the Wawel complex and features Europe’s largest market square, in addition to several historic houses, palaces and churches.
The golden ring, found in the castle complex recently, was unearthed in an archaeological layer, resting on top of the remnants of a stone structure – thought to be a kind of defensive shaft.
The gold artefact, which researchers believe dates from the 11th or 12th centuries, displays a decoration composed of two opposing anthropomorphic faces.
“Wawel never ceases to amaze us. Recently, an extremely rare discovery has been made in the form of a golden early medieval ring,” a statement from the castle museum said.
The museum added that the find was a “unique discovery”, mainly due to the fact that very few medieval golden rings have been found in Poland. These types of adornments from this perios in history, and this region, are generally without decoration, or feature only simple geometric patterns.
“The specimen uncovered at Wawel is unique because of its decoration,” the museum said. “This is the only example where human — and, in general, figurative – images are depicted on an early medieval ring from Poland. You have to admit it is impressive.”
The gold ornament also makes no references to Christianity, a religion which began to establish itself in Poland in the 10th century. Researchers think the two opposing faces may be a reference to the two-faced god Janus, from Roman mythology.