Topic outline

  • Archaeological Project Ducal Tower in Siedlęcin

    Archaeological excavations at the ducal tower in Siedlęcin have been carried out by the Insitute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University since 2008.

    The tower is one of the most interesting examples of profane architecture in Poland and this part of Europe. The research revealed a connection between the tower and Duke Henry I of Jawor, member of the Piast dynasty.

    History of the Tower
    The research revealed a connection between the tower and Duke Henry I of Jawor. Dendrochronological survey helped determine the tower's age, dating its creation to 1313.
    Description of the Tower
    The tower was erected here probably due to the closeness of hunting territories and trade routes running nearby.
    Alchemical signs, hidden wall paintings, underground chambers, whose functions remain unknown - these are only some of the many questions awaiting answers.
    • Archaeological excavations of the Jagiellonian University

      The object of the research is the tower itself as well the area in its close vicinity. Both nondestructive and medieval techniques have been used to reconstruct the endangered outer wall.

      The excavations
      Since it has never been reconstructed and survived in its original shape until today, the tower is of enormous value to archaeologists. On the other hand, the tower's immediate surroundings were rebuilt and destroyed several times. To a great extent, their original shape remains a mystery.
      The Manor House
      The present manor house is situated where the tower's outer walls once stood. During the later period there was a terrace, currently non-existent, which adjoined the manor house.
      The manor house interior
      During the previous seasons of excavations we were able to identify the former kitchen, servants' room, the oldest outer wall and pavements dating from different periods.
      The causeway
      Conservation works involving the reconstruction of the 16thcentury causeway demand employing stonemason techniques and materials similar to those applied originally for the building's construction. The research makes it possible, among other things, to determine the composition of the materials used and techniques employed and try to reconstruct the original shape of the construction.
      The grange
      Old maps show the existence of additional buildings in the tower's immediate vicinity. The research is aimed at finding the remains of these buildings as well.
      Other methods
      Archaeological research is supplemented by other means as well such as data obtained from non-invasive techniques like 3D scanning and GPR (ground-penetrating radar).
      Future excavations
      • The paintings

        The author of the paintings is unknown. Neither do we know for certain who the commissioner was. They are the oldest profane wall paintings in Poland. However, the completion of the project was stopped in unexplained circumstances and they survived underneath the layer of plaster as the work never finished.

        They depict, among others, the legend of Sir Lancelot, King Arthur's knight. This is the world's only wall depiction of this legend.

        The paintings
        The tower's interior entice tourists, historians, art historians and medievalists alike.
        St Christopher
        The patron saint of knightly loyalty and good death is a central figure of the surviving paintings. Without a doubt, placing this particular figure in the centre was aimed at conveying the message to the viewers.
        Memento mori
        Knight and Maid, Knight and Dame, and four figures in the graves below them. Blurred and illegible inscriptions around them: GOT-HAT-SICH-ERKORT-WEN-SIN-ZORN. DER-EST-VON-GOT-WEL-R-TOT-GE-WICHT. GOT-TAT-UNS-MILTE-BARM-HERZIK-ENLOSE. ...VON-L...ST-WER..ST-GUT-GNADIK-UNS-ELEDER-WERDEN.
        Sir Lancelot
        Two parts illustrating the exploits of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere

        • Sources

          Marek L., Nocuń P., Knights of the Round Table of the Tower in Siedlęcin, Silesia (w:) Acta Militaria Mediaevalia t. IX (red. P. Kotowicz), Sanok – w druku.

          Nocuń P., Wall Paintings in Siedlęcin Castle, Poland-Fourteenth-Century Pictorial Representations of Lancelot's story, "BBSIA" LVI (2004), s. 403-422.

          Nocuń P., The Lancelot Paintings in Poland among medieval Arthurian wall paintings in Europe, "Abstracts from the 21st International Arthurian Society Conference, University of Utrecht, July 24-31, 2005".

          Nocuń P., Medieval Dwelling Tower in Siedlecin (Poland) and Its Lancelot Frescoes, "Abstracts from the Fortieth International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, May 5-8, 2005".

          Nocuń P., Wieża książęca w Siedlęcinie (powiat jeleniogórski) w świetle dotychczasowych badań, Z otchłani wieków, r. 64 (nr 1-4), 2009, s. 169-182.

          Nocuń P., The fourteenth-century ducal tower of Siedlecin – the largest and most representative tower house in Silesia (south-western Poland) (w:) „ Towers 1: A House Such as Thieves Will Knock At" red. Richard Oram, Stirling – w druku.

          Witkowski, J. (2001), Szlachetna a wielce żałosna opowieść o Panu Lancelocie z Jeziora: dekoracja malarska wielkiej sali wieży mieszkalnej w Siedlęcinie. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego.

          • Materials

            The materials were gathered during the eighth season of the excavations of the Ducal Tower in Siedlęcin.

            We would like to thank
            Dr Przemysław Nocuń,
            Szymon Walkowski,
            and Katarzyny Ogrodnik-Fujcik

            Completion, editing, animation, graphics, pictures, coding, music:
            Wojciech Pudło
            (E-learning Centre, Jagiellonian Uniniversity)

            Szymon Walkowski,
            Wojciech Pudło

            French to Polish translation:
            Barbara Grimaux

            Polish to English translation:
            Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik