Medieval treasure trove ‘belonging to princess’ found in cornfield following tip off from village priest

The 900-year-old riches which include coins and jewellery were discovered in the small village of Słuszków. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Thousands of 12th century treasures dating back nearly 900 years have been found in a cornfield near Kalisz.

The medieval riches which include coins and jewellery rumoured to have belonged to a Ruthenian princess and sister-in-law of 12-century Polish king Bolesław the Wrymouth were discovered in the small village of Słuszków.

The extraordinary discovery was made after hearing local legends about hidden treasure from the village priest.Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Inside a pot hidden beneath the earth, archaeologist Dr Adam Kędzierski from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences found 6,500 silver coins arranged in linen pouches, silver ingots, fragments of lead and two gold rings and two wedding bands.

The extraordinary discovery was made after hearing local legends about hidden treasure from the village priest.

On one of the rings there is a Cyrillic inscription which reads: “Lord, may you help your servant Maria.”Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Dr Kędzierski had been in the village to take photos of a site where in 1935 archaeologists discovered what was then Poland’s largest ever coin haul.

But during his research he began talking to the local priest, who told him of rumours he had heard from the pre-war treasure hunters.

The medieval riches are rumoured to have belonged to a Ruthenian princess and sister-in-law of 12-century Polish king Bolesław the Wrymouth were discovered in the small village of Słuszków.Atlas of Wrocław Architecture, ed. J. Harasimowicz

Dr Kędzierski said: “According to the official version, the treasure was hidden at the intersection of three plots of land, located in the northern part of the village.

“This news turned out to be false, so this year, attention was focused on the field closer to the road. This place was indicated by Father Stachowiak."

The discovery was made by archaeologist Dr Adam Kędzierski from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Two days later the archaeologists found the treasure.

He said: “A pot filled to the brim with denarii was found. This is an extremely valuable discovery for archaeologists, historians and museum workers.

The treasures date from the turn of the 11th and 12th century.Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

“It is one of the most intriguing treasures in Poland. The treasure found in the field in Słuszków near Kalisz comes from the turn of the 11th and 12th century."

The treasure was so big that on the night of excavations local volunteer firemen were called in to guard the site.

Inside the pot the archaeologist also found 6,500 silver coins arranged in linen pouches.Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

On one of the rings there is a Cyrillic inscription which reads: “Lord, may you help your servant Maria.”

Based on this, Dr Kędzierski believes that the ring may have belonged to a Ruthenian princess named Maria.

Dr Kędzierski  said: “This is an extremely valuable discovery for archaeologists, historians and museum workers.Tomasz Wojtasik/PAP

He said: “We know that at that time the wife of Bolesław the Wrymouth was a Russian princess named Zbysława. According to the literature, she was supposed to have a sister Maria, who was married to Piotr Włostowic.

“It is commonly acknowledged that Maria was the daughter of Svyatoslavovich Isiaslavovich, Prince of Kiev.”

Following her husband’s abduction of Prince Volodar of Przemyśl, it is thought that the coins found may have been part of a dowry that Maria received and that she may have hidden it.

Further excavation work at the site is now planned.Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Kędzierski said: “Her husband's position and possessions could have led her to deposit the treasure, to which a wedding ring was later added.

“Perhaps the deposit was made in 1145/1146 during her escape from Poland. The hypothesis is unverifiable, but very attractive, because it explains the presence of coins from before the marriage.”

Further excavation work is now planned.