Howl about that! Dog digs up Poland’s largest treasure haul of the last 100 years
A dog in Lower Silesia has discovered what archaeologists are saying may be the largest treasure find in Poland in the last 100 years.
The sensational haul of medieval bracteates (one-sided coins) was found buried in a clay pot near Wałbrzych by a dog named Kajtuś while he was on a walk with his owner.
Wałbrzych heritage protection officer, Anna Nowakowska-Ciuchera, said: “The person who approached us was on a walk with their dog. At some point Kajtuś started digging in the ground. And that's how he came across the pot of coins. At least this is the version presented to us.”
Although heritage protection officers are not revealing the exact location or the number of coins found, they said that according to a preliminary assessment by archaeologists, such a large haul has not been formally reported for at least 100 years.
The most recent similar discovery took place in Pomerania in 1972, when over a hundred Teutonic bracteates were found.
The coins have been dated to the first half of the 13th century. The location of the vessel and the coins suggests that someone had initially hidden them. Preliminary identification of the coins suggests that they originated in Brandenburg, Saxony and Silesia.
For their age, the coins found in Wałbrzych are in remarkably good condition and the images on them are mostly clear and depict griffins, mermaids and angels, as well as architectural elements such as towers and walls.
“Bracteates were made of thin sheet metal. They functioned as means of payment during the Middle Ages. The use of individual coins was relatively short. It is known from historical data that means of payment in this period were replaced even two to three times a year,” the Lower Silesia Heritage Protection Office said.
Due to this, there are not many preserved coins from this period, as they were melted and pressed into new coins on a regular basis.
The discovery of such a considerable number of coins from this period is, therefore, exceptional.
The name of the coin is derived from the Latin word bractea, which means thin sheet metal. Due to their thickness, they could only be stamped on one side.
The stamp produced a convex print on the top side, leaving a concave negative on the underside.
The idea of stamping coins from thin sheet metal was caused by the low availability of silver and gold and the fact that there were not many mints in operation at the time.
At that time, coins could be minted by kings, princes and bishops. This state of affairs lasted until the discovery of significant silver deposits near Prague, Czech Republic; after this, groschens began to be minted and these slowly replaced bracteates.
The coins will first be studied thoroughly, and then, as they are the property of the State Treasury, they will ultimately be delivered to a museum rather than being sold.